Laura Staton and Sarah Perron, co-authors and co-founders of Baby Om, suggest the following three simple poses for easing pregnancy symptoms:
- Hero or Heroine Pose (Virasana): Begin by kneeling on the floor (place a pillow or folded blanket under your knees if you feel uncomfortable). Be sure that your knees are touching and your thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Then slide your feet apart until they are just a bit wider than your hips (keep your toes pointed and the tops of your feet flat on the floor). Exhale and sit back slightly, lean your torso a bit forward, and sit between your feet (you may need an additional block or pillow under your buttocks if they don't rest comfortably on the floor). This pose is a soothing posture for tired and sore legs, and reduces swelling associated with pregnancy; it improves digestion and can also lessen nausea.
- Cobbler's Pose (Badha Konasana): Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you (raise your pelvis by sitting on a pillow or blanket if your hips are feeling tight). Bring your feet in as close to your pelvis as you comfortably can. With your first and second fingers and thumb, grasp your big toes (right hand to right toe, left hand to left toe). If this isn't comfortable, simply place your hands around your ankles or shins instead. Sit in this pose for one to five minutes. According to the editors of Yoga Journal, "Consistent practice of this pose until late into pregnancy is said to help ease childbirth." The pose is also good for alleviating mild depression, anxiety and fatigue, sciatica, and stimulating the abdominal organs.
- Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II): Stand with your feet approximately four feet apart, reach your arms out parallel to the floor. Turn your right foot slightly in and inch your left foot out to a 90-degree angle (perpendicular to your right foot). Exhale and bend your left knee out over your left foot until your shin becomes perpendicular to the floor. Breathe deeply and repeat on the other side. Practice Warrior Pose for relief of backache and sciatica, and to stimulate the abdominal organs.
Remember to always practice poses with caution. Be mindful of your changing body's restrictions. "Pregnancy is not a time to push limits," says Perron. "[This] is a time to work comfortably. Being pregnant brings the focus inward already, so it is a perfect time to concentrate on [these] changes."
A Last Word on Kegels
Don't forget about Kegels, the contracting and relaxing of pelvic floor muscles. (To locate these muscles, try stopping the flow of urine; then mimic this practice in your exercises.) These simple exercises are a pregnant woman's best friend and a new mother's closest companion. Don't stop practicing them after birth, as they are safe to perform even during your recovery period. And the wonderful thing about them is you can practice anywhere and at any time—while you are in traffic, in a meeting, or when washing dishes.