[images][image][image][image][image][image][endimages]Prior to becoming pregnant, I didn’t use props in my yoga practice. Yoga blocks, straps, blankets and bolsters were things I knew were beneficial, yet not something that I reached for daily. As I enter by third trimester with my first baby, I have never loved props more! The way that blocks allow the ground to be lifted allows forward folds to be accessible with a growing belly, as well as a restful savasana as laying on your back becomes frowned upon.
Here are my top 5 favorite yoga postures to do with a block or strap (there are thousands more, so please feel free to share your favorites too!)
In my second trimester, I fell in love with runners lunge. I realized that my first trimester was full of sitting and laying down (hello, fatigue!) and now my body was ready to move. Runners lunge allows an opening through your psoas muscles that get tight with a day full of sitting. This also allows a reactive stretch through your quadriceps. Using the strap, your body gets a gentle (and safe) twist and shoulder opening.
Here’s how to move into the posture: Prep this posture by wrapping the strap around the back foot. From low lunge, walk the front foot wider, yet keep under your knee joint. Plant opposite hand, and reach back to grab your strap, bending at the knee. To go deeper, walk your hand up the strap closer to your foot. Stay engaged in the glutes and core to support lower spine.
Goddess pose is an absolute pregnancy love. Prepping for birth, the relaxation techniques of your inner thighs and groin muscles are taught throughout this posture. The stretch can be supported as your belly grows with the assistance of a block, or two! Keep conscious of your heels in this posture, and allow your heels to stay on the mat (if they lift up, allow the block to be at a higher level).
To prepare, start in a wide legged forward fold. Walk your feet wide and angle feet outwards. Squat down and place sit bones onto a block. Cultivate your outer glute muscles to open through inner thighs, and enjoy the hip opening here. Make sure this feels safe on your knee joint, and breathe into this posture.
As my belly started to grow, my balance continuously was being challenged. Standing on one foot became something that wasn’t as easy as before! To be safe within this posture while pregnant, I suggest using multiple blocks to provide support.
Moving into this posture, have the blocks prepped at the top of your mat. From low lunge, allow each hand to grab each block. Ground down with standing foot, and lift back leg to be in line with hips and shoulders. Lengthen through the spine and feel the opening through the hamstrings and calves.
This supported spine strengthening posture allows us to strengthen the muscles along the spine in a safe and sustained way. This will also open up the front hip muscles, as you can lengthen the legs towards the front of the mat, being mindful of your stomach muscles.
From laying on your back (if this is comfortable with no leg sensations), plant heels under knee joint. Press into your heels and place block at sacrum (make sure it’s not on your lower back). Rest tailbone on block, and relax deeper into this posture. Feel free to reach hands over head for a nice lengthening of your chest muscles as well. Safely lift hips to remove block, and roll over onto your side into fetal position for a few breaths.
Savasana, or corpse pose, is something that my body and mind craves daily. I couldn’t imagine taking this posture out of my practice, so I am thankful for props that allow me to continue this! This posture can be supported through bolsters, blankets, etc, and here is a good starting point with four blocks.
When coming down to your final resting posture of your yoga practice, take a moment to set up your block support. One block will go length wise down your spine to support your upper back. A higher block with rest behind this block, to support the weight of your head. Two other blocks are placed under each thigh, so that you can move into Supta Baddha Konasana and continuously open up your hips as you lay in savasana. Allow palms to face up and eyes to close so that your body can relax and your mind can move into a meditative state. It might take a while to get your body to feel comfortable, so take the time to find your comfortable supported space so that your body can relax.
I hope you can continue to move and use your body as your precious baby grows! Remember that you are the only one who is able to listen to the needs of your body, so make sure to only practice what feels good for you. I will see you on your mat, and Namaste!
Lacey Shelton is a California-Based Yogi with a baby girl on the way! Follow her adventures through pregnancy and life at @LaceyCalvertShelton