Props are perfect for prenatal yoga, a time in a woman’s life where added ease and support is most welcome!
Lou Lynn, a Vancouver-based Prenatal Yoga instructor discussed with us the innies and outies of prenatal yoga and prop use for moms-to-be.
What drew you to teach prenatal yoga?
I have been teaching yoga since 2006 and practicing for 15 years. I became involved in prenatal yoga after practicing at home throughout my first pregnancy. I delivered my child actively and naturally and I felt yoga really facilitated this. I wanted to share this with other moms and so I began to teach prenatal yoga classes. My classes are a gentle hatha practice that embraces all levels of experience and pregnancy.
What are the benefits of a prenatal yoga practice?
Whether you are new to yoga, or a seasoned yogini, the benefits of a Prenatal Practice can be observed both throughout your pregnancy and during the birthing process. Typically, Prenatal Yoga is a gentle yoga that modifies and uses poses that are safe for pregnancy. It incorporates breath work that can be beneficial to giving birth naturally. Many students say the best part is the connection and sharing that naturally unfolds throughout the Prenatal session. Having a community of moms experiencing the same challenges and joys can be a wonderful support.
What role do props play in a prenatal yoga class?
Props are a really valuable addition to any yoga practice. During my prenatal yoga classes, we make use of many props including large bolsters, blankets, foam blocks and straps.
I find that as pregnancy progresses and a mom’s belly blooms, the props really make a yoga practice not only possible, but they also provide much needed comfort and support. The physical changes of pregnancy that take place within a woman’s body, often means that we need to modify poses and props help to facilitate this.
Are there any specific poses to avoid while pregnant?
Things to avoid would be poses held for long periods of time, yin yoga, poses lying on your belly after the first trimester, deep twists, deep backbends such as wheel, abdominal work such as boat pose, lying on your back for extended periods of time in your 2nd trimester and beyond, inversion poses such as headstand, handstand because of the risk of falling, jumping and also inverted poses such as down dog and full forward bend after 36 weeks because of the risk of babies turning so late in pregnancy. However if you have a breech baby then practicing lots of down dogs may encourage baby to flip the right way. It’s best to seek out a qualified Prenatal Yoga instructor.
Prop Essentials for a Prenatal Practice at home and in class:
Cylindrical Bolster: Handmade at Halfmoon, the Cylindrical Bolster is ideal for a pregnant body and reclining back over it is a wonderful opening for your back and chest. Adding a chip foam block at the base of the bolster will alleviate any discomfort in your lower back. Use a blanket on the top of your bolster to lift your head slightly and relieve any tension in your neck
- In Corpse Pose (Savasana) the bolster can be placed either between your legs if lying on your side to support your hips and pelvis or behind the back, running the full length of your spine. The ability to rest on your back especially late into your pregnancy is a real treat!
- In Child’s Pose (Balasana) place the bolster across your calves and gently sit back on it as you reach forward, allowing space for your belly. Or place the bolster under your armpits to relieve neck and back pain.
- For a Gentle Reclining Twist lie on your back with both knees to one side, stretch your arms wide and support your knees by placing a block or bolster between your knees.
Cotton Blankets: Designed for gentle cushioning and support, Halfmoon’s Cotton Blankets are the ideal padding for many poses.
- In Legs-up-the-Wall pose (Viparita Karani), one or more blankets can be placed under your lower back and sacrum especially after 30 weeks pregnant, to prevent dizziness and prevent cutting off the flow of the artery. Legs-up-the-Wall pose is a favourite for moms-to-be who wish to alleviate swelling in the legs and prevent varicose veins.
- In Corpse Pose (Savasana) a blanket (or two) can be placed under your head for cushioning and and under your belly for support and comfort while lying on your side. For added comfort and support for your hips and pelvis, place a bolster between your legs.
Cork Blocks: Naturally antibacterial, quiet and sturdy, the Halfmoon Cork Block provides great traction and supports many poses safely and comfortably.
- In Easy Sitting pose (Sukhasana) place the block under your sit bones so that your knees are lower than your hips – it makes sitting up tall more comfortable.
- In Seated Forward Bend pose (Paschimottanasana) the block can be used in the same way as Easy Sitting pose to help bring ease to the forward bend.
Loop Strap: Lightweight and durable, the Halfmoon Loop Strap is easy to use with a fixed loop at one end and a buckle to loop at the other end.
- In Staff Pose (Dandasana) place the strap around your feet to enable you to sit up taller. This strengthens your back muscles and gives your shoulders and chest a nice stretch.
- In Cow Face pose (Gomukhasana) you can place the strap between your hands to help hook them together. An amazing stretch for tight shoulders and hips.
- In Reclining Buddha pose (Sayana Buddhasana)- while lying on your side, use the strap to lift your top leg leg high for a great stretch with less effort.
You can find Lou Lynn teaching at her studio in Burnaby – Yoga Spirit. For yoga for the whole family www.littletreeyoga.com.