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Yin for Labor Preparation/Pregnancy

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Joined: 01 Oct 2012
Posts: 1
Location: St. Louis, MO

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:55 pm    Post subject: Yin for Labor Preparation/Pregnancy Reply with quote


I am a power yoga teacher who began practicing yin to aid in conception. I am 9 months pregnant and, having practiced yoga throughout my pregnancy, feel great.

However, I am approaching the final weeks of my pregnancy and would like to hear feedback on what poses are good for loosening up the ligaments and tendons around the pelvis in preparation for delivery. At this stage, my belly is quite large and being on my back does not feel good. I'd like to know a few yin poses I could do daily to prepare my lower body (and mind!) along with how long is safe to hold them for (I know over-doing it is a concern at this point).

I focused a lot on maintaining my strength and endurance throughout this pregnancy with a lot of yang activity (biking, hiking, yang yoga), but now I am thinking it is time to really focus on opening and softening through a more yin approach. Help from Bernie or other mommas would be greatly appreciated!
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Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1094
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 2:32 am    Post subject: Yin at 9 months? Reply with quote

You are almost there! Congratulations. I have never been 9 months pregnant, nor even 1 month pregnant, so I can't personally advise you, but I can summarize some of the comments of others who have posted here and talked to me about their experiences.

1) - short holds! Max 3 minutes now.
2) - stay off your back, as you have already noted, it doesn't feel good.
3) - use lots of props: some back bends like Seal or Sphinx may be delicious and still available if you place bolsters under your thighs and arms, in effect creating a pit for your expanded belly
4) - don't try to gain more "flexibility" now than you had before.

For this last point: you will start to get a new surge of relaxin and other hormones that soften your cartilage and other connective tissues: it is easy to go too deep right now and tear yourself open. Just go to where you have gone before, don't try to hit any edges now, and soak in the energy of the practice rather than work physically deeper.

5) - develop your yin-breath: the soft, soothing ocean sound - four second inhales, one second pause, four second exhale, one second pause. This gentle ocean breath will turn off the stress system allowing a more complete relaxation, turning on the rest & digest system.

Let's see if any other yin-mommies will offer their advice too. (And if you haven't already, do read their posts in this section.)

Good luck!

Last edited by Bernie on Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1094
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:13 am    Post subject: More thoughts on Yin at 9 months Reply with quote

Hello mama-to-be

Congratulations on your pregnancy...how exciting! I thought I'd share a little personal experience and add in a few suggestions from a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) perspective.

There are lots of great yoga postures to help open the pelvic cavity and increase mobility in both the hips and pelvis. Postures from the yin repertoire that I found useful in my pregnancy were postures like squats (with or without blocks/props), butterfly, 1/2 butterfly, dragonfly, dragon series, swan (some of which I had to find creative ways of using props). Table top moving the hips in circles (back to front) is great for low back pain and labouring women often find themselves in this pose to help ease discomfort.

My only caveat that I learned the hard way was because a pregnant woman's body produces a hormone called relaxin, I found that early on in my pregnancy (25 weeks) I lingered around a little too long in the dragon series and couldn't walk for weeks and weeks without feeling unstable and in pain. What I often suggest to my pregnant students is to not go as far as they know they can but instead try and take the time to connect with baby. Everyone is different as far as how long to hold a pose but maybe try doing 1-2 minutes and seeing how your body responds. Intention is key so even while you hold back from going to your deepest depths try perhaps imagining that the uterus is being nourished with blood and that your ligaments and pelvis are becoming more open to accomodate a healthy birth. Also try and keep the jaw relaxed as this will also help keep the pelvis relaxed.

I treat a lot of pregnant women with acupuncture and not only does it help increase blood flow to the uterus, it also can help with many pregnancy related issues (ie. constipation, low back pain, hemorrhoids, anxiety even to help induce labour if you are past due). This website is a great resource for pregnant women looking to find some information from a TCM perspective on acupressure points you can administer on yourself (which you can try while holding in some yin postures), dietary advice, post partum information etc... http://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/

Yin yoga was a god send after I gave birth as it helped me find some sense of calm in my mind and body amongst all the noise! All the best in this last leg of your pregnancy and here's to a fast, relatively painless, healthy labour and birth!

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Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1094
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:17 am    Post subject: More from an experienced mother and yin yogi Reply with quote

Great idea to now take time to open and soften Smile

I would recommend definitely being cautious of pushing yourself at all, as this is mainly a time to focus on rest and relaxation.

As far as opening, long exhales in butterfly pose, gently forward folding if it feels good or reclining on bolsters with blocks under your knees, an optional strap (as in bound-angle pose) or even sitting upright (maybe against a wall) and focusing on exhaling out to open the pelvis more. 1-3 mins depending on how long you feel comfy for. Again, i'd really emphasis not pushing you limits and staying with space in your breath. Also kegel exercises can be done (and are helpful for the opening) in this pose.

I used to start my prenatal students off in bound-angle pose reclining on a bolster stacked on many blocks against a wall with breathing exercises or birth meditations, lots of them found those exercises helpful in labour.

Trust your body as you don't need to do much other than practise staying stay strong (sthira) and at ease (sukha) for it to do it's job Smile

All the best,

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