There are so many benefits to practicing yoga as an expectant and new mama – from improved circulation and firming of the skin, to strengthening of the muscles and connective tissue, to stimulating lymphatic flow. You see, yoga is not just about asanas. It’s about softening, a dance of effort and surrender, and deep listening to your body.
“When I was pregnant with my son, my yoga practice was my saving grace. I developed my own prenatal practice that made me feel strong and capable,” doula and prenatal yoga teacher Latham Thomas shares, “I learned how to tune in to what was happening in my body and ease my mind through meditation and deep breathing. Yoga also informed my birth ritual from beginning to end.”
“I was able to relax into my breathing techniques at the onset of contractions, and I visualized the baby moving farther down the birth canal during each contraction. I knew that every sensation was taking me closer to bringing the baby into the world.”
Latham Thomas is the name behind the brand Mama Glow, a lifestyle brand and website that acts as a resource for new and expectant mamas looking to lead a healthy and holistic life. She breathes life into women in an effort to help them rise from the ashes of their former selves and into the divinity of their best selves and she is a birth doula that celebs like Alicia Keys and new mother Angela Simmons swear by. Today, she shares some of her favorite yoga prenatal poses exclusively with xoNecole.
Follow along to get familiar with your inner “Om”:
There are six ways that you can sit for meditation. The most common and most recommended way is the quater lotus method. Sit in your meditation seat with your legs crossed and both feet resting below the thigh or knee opposite of that leg. Sit in silence or with calming music and focus on centering your thoughts and awareness to the space around you. Feel free to chant "Om", it is the chant cosmic consciousness.
Reclined Cobbler's Pose
This pose is a restorative posture that supports the spine and opens the chest and heart area. This is especially comforting for expectant moms who have heavier breasts and need mid-back relief.
"Stack blocks on an angle and lay your bolster over the blocks so it's at a 45-degree angle. Bring your sacrum to the base of the bolster, press hands into the floor and feet into the floor as you gently lie back. Allow the spine to rest over the bolster, relax your neck and head and open your chest. Draw the soles of your feet together and let the knees splay out to the sides. Rest your arms to the sides, palms face up."
Supported Bridge Pose
This is a great pose for postpartum moms as well. You can even do a lighter version of this- the pelvic tilt hours after birth.
"The anatomical focus of this pose is the uterus. The Supported Bridge stretches the chest, neck, and spine and allows you a gentle backbend with total support. Some of the benefits include stimulation of the abdominal organs, lungs, and thyroid; improved digestion; and reduced anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache, and insomnia. This pose calms the mind and helps alleviate stress and mild depression."
This pose stretches the hip flexors, outer hips and groin. There is nothing more elegant than a mom-to-be in this posture.
"From Downward Dog, step the right foot forward and place it just inside your left hand. Tip your knee to the right, until it touches the floor — your shinbone should be almost parallel with the front of your mat. Extend your chest forward, while supporting yourself on your fingertips.
"Try a few rounds of spinal flexion — waves of the spine — for 4 counts. You may also use a blanket or blocks underneath your hip to prop yourself up with a little support in this pose. Hold this pose for a minimum of 5 breaths. Once you are finished, tuck the back toes under, press the hands into the floor and step back to Downward Dog. Repeat on the other side."
This series gets your legs in shape for the final stretch of labor — the pushing phase, or breathing your baby down. Your hips will be ready to deliver by opening the pelvic girdle, strengthening the thighs, opening the chest and strengthening the arms.
"Take the legs wide with knees slightly turned out. Inhale the arms up overhead and exhale, bending the knees, bringing your thighs parallel with the floor. Open the arms out to either side with palms facing forward in Abhaya mudra — no fear. Inhale back up again and repeat up to 20 times."
This gentle stretch calms the brain, helping to relieve stress and fatigue, relieves back and neck pain, and stretches hips, thighs and ankles.
"From Downward Dog, bend your knees and kneel down to your mat and touch your big toes together, press your hips back toward your heels, separate your knees to hips-width and lay your torso down onto the floor or a bolster. Rest your forehead on the mat, with your arms alongside your body and your palms facing upward. Breathe deeply into the back body for 5-to-10 breaths."
What are some calming practices that helped you before, during, and/or after your pregnancy? Let us know in the comments below!
Latham Thomas, aka Glow Maven, is a celebrity wellness/ lifestyle maven and birth doula- transforming not only how women give birth to their babies, but how they give rise to the best version of themselves. Named one of Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul 100- a enlightened group of leaders elevating humanity with their work- Latham is helping women embrace optimal wellness and spiritual growth as a pathway to empowerment. Follow her on Twitter & IG: @GlowMaven