3 Yoga Poses for Labor

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As a birth doula and yoga teacher, I believe that yoga for labor is one of the most rewarding forms of yoga. Your labor could be a breeze or it could be a marathon. Either way, these sure fire hip-openers can help give you the edge.

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1. Cobbler’s Pose/Butterfly.

Take your Cobbler’s Pose to new heights by not only lengthening and strengthening your upper back, helping to improve your posture, but the lift also allows the hips to fall open towards the sides, going deeper into your groin muscles and stretching the pelvis to open for birth. Place the soles of the feet together in front of your body and walk the hips back an inch to rest in a forward pelvic tilt. Keep the outer edges of the feet pressed to the earth as you roll your shoulders open and back and lift your hips from the floor

  • enjoying a deep stretch in the entire back from crown to tailbone.

2. Low Lunge Pose.

Lunge is a terrific pelvic floor stretch as well as a strengthener for your thighs. In addition, it stretches the hip flexors which lead into the back and can alleviate some of the tension in your tight lumbar. I often recommend my Doula clients to try this pose while standing in labor, as it may help to open up the pelvic floor on one side more than another, which is useful for babies who like to thumb suck in utero and cannot descend with a little arm in the way!

3. Downward Facing Dog.

The Downward Facing Dog is a standard pose in most classes, but done properly with birth in mind, can also become your new best friend. Begin the pose by sitting on the heels with the arms outstretched on the mat as far in front of you as you are comfortable. Keep the fingers soft and the shoulders pulled into the back with a long neck. Shift your weight into your toes and lift the knees slightly from the floor. Keep reaching with your chin as you straighten the legs, letting the heels descend, and the shoulders pulled back into the spine. The head will naturally fall towards the floor as your hips elevate, keeping the length and the strength in the shoulders behind you, where it belongs. As you lift the hips, lift the tailbone and stretch the hamstrings from heels to hips forming a perfect triangle with your body. In this position, the baby can fall out of the hips and low back, offering relief in later weeks as well as encouraging a breech baby to shift with the relaxation of the internal ligament structure.

*Consult with your medical professional before starting any new physical regime during pregnancy or labor.



Yoga Poses to Ease Digestive Discomfort

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If you’re one of the many American who suffers from occasional digestive discomfort, yoga offers a natural way to get relief. Just as you would adapt your diet to address your needs, try including some of these poses into your regular practice.

Cat-Cow – Marjaryasana-Bitilasana

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  • Improves posture and balance
  • Strengthens and stretches the spine and neck
  • Stretches the hips, abdomen and bac
  • Increases coordination
  • Massages and stimulates organs in the belly, like the kidneys and adrenal glands.
  • Relieves stress and calms the mind

 

Downward-Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress
  • Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
  • Strengthens the arms and legs
  • Relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue
  • Therapeutic for high blood pressure
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis

 

Extended Puppy Pose – Uttana Shishosana

  • Releases tension in you upper arms, shoulders, and neck
  • Expands the whole front of your chest
  • Stretches out your abdominal muscles
  • Gently stimulates your back muscles in preparation for further backbends
  • Opens up your hips and stretches your hamstrings

 

Bridge Pose – Setu Bandha Saravangasana

  • Streches your chest, neck, spine, and hips
  • Strengthens your back, buttocks, and hamstring muscles
  • Calms your brain and central nervous system
  • Alleviates stress and mild depression
  • Massages abdominal organs and improves digestion/li>
  • Relieves the symptoms of menopause
  • Reduces anxiety, backaches, headaches, and insomnia

 

Wind-Relieving Pose – Ardha Pawanmuktasana

  • Stretches the neck and back
  • Pressure on the abdomen releases any trapped gases in the large intestine
  • Blood circulation is increased to all the internal organs
  • Relieves constipation
  • Strengthens the back and abdominal muscles
  • Massages the intestines and other organs in the abdomen
  • Eases tension in the lower back
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