3 Yoga Poses for Labor
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.
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.
5 Hidden Benefits of Downward-Facing Dog
If you’ve attended a yoga class, you’ve probably done downward-facing dog pose. Downward-facing dog is a foundational pose found in various vinyasa yoga flows, and for many of us, we initially feel the stretch in the arms, the back, and the legs. That’s the obvious, but there are so many other benefits to exploring downward-facing dog. Downward-facing dog is a very challenging pose, as the muscles are working to hold the pose against gravity.
5 Hidden Benefits of Downward Facing Dog:
Strengthens Abdominal Muscles
Envision turning downward-facing dog right side up into boat pose. Just as you would with boat pose, engaging the belly in downward-facing dog strengthens and abdominal muscles that support the spine.
Many tend to forget that downward-facing dog is an inversion! As the hips lift and the head drops below the heart, the pull of gravity is reversed and fresh blood flows, aiding in circulation.
Although downward-facing dog is not a full bend or fold, the pose does allow for slight abdominal compression by drawing the navel into the spine. The pose compresses the organs like the kidneys, liver and the spleen, aiding in digestion.
Tones the hands and feet
Downward-facing dog is weight-bearing pose that prepares hands and feet for standing and arm balancing poses.
Stretching the cervical spine and the neck allows the head and your mind to relax.
So the next time you’re in downward-facing dog, enjoy the obvious and not-so-obvious benefits of the pose!