Stress during pregnancy? Yes. But why?

Pregnancy is full of 1) hormonal changes, which impact how our nervous system responds to external stimuli (aka life), 2) physical changes which can trigger both frustration and discomfort, and 3) emotional reactions sometimes caused by significant events in your world (did somebody say pandemic?), sometimes by a Hallmark commercial, and always the combination of feeling scared AND excited to become a parent. That is a lot of a lot – it’s no wonder you’re feeling stressed or anxious during pregnancy!

My not-so-secret secret is that yoga can help. Like a LOT. We need a lot of time together to talk about how yoga physiologically helps us, so I’ll give you the TL;DR upfront: research has shown that consistent yoga and/or meditation practices can help reduce depression and anxiety and help rewire our brain’s responses to stress. (source: Harvard Medical School)

Now, I’m not talking about converting you to a full-blown yogi; instead, I’m recommending a mini-routine to your day/evening, a few physical yoga poses to help calm the emotional overwhelm and stress during pregnancy. For example, I love taking a 60-minute yoga class, but sometimes I just don’t have the time or the energy, so I simply take what I need from some of my favorite yoga poses when I metaphorically want to curl up in a little ball and hide away from the world.

As a pregnant person (especially if your bump is lovely and big), it’s literally difficult to curl up in a little ball, so here are some of my go-to poses modified for a pregnancy belly that I teach in my prenatal yoga classes. 

When should I do these poses? 

It can be at the end of the day when you’re trying to wind-down, or maybe it’s in the middle of the day when your stress is at your highest (hint: or you can come to one of our midday express prenatal yoga classes!). 

Do I need to buy anything?

You don’t necessarily need any props, but if you have the means to invest in a yoga bolster and two yoga blocks, I’d highly recommend having some on hand. If not, you can absolutely use regular blankets/pillows that you have at home.

Supported Seated Forward Fold

Tip – placing your bolster at an angle will help keep it upright so it can directly support your weight!

Alternative props: If you don’t have a bolster, I recommend facing your couch, bed, or chair (whatever height works for you). 

Instructions: You want legs to be far enough apart to allow space for baby and then you’re going to start to lean forward, hinging from your hips. Then once you’ve found a nice back stretch, round over to place your forehead on the bolster, and allow the bolster/couch/chair to receive the full weight of your head and body. That’s the most important part here, is to try and let yourself be fully supported.

Supported Child’s Pose

Tip: If you’re here for a bit, make sure to turn your head to the other side about halfway through your time.

Alternative props: stacking a couple of pillows or blankets to lean over

Instructions: Bring knees out wide with big toes to touch, and either bring the bolster in between the thighs, or nestle yourself around the bolster. Then you want to fold over the bolster and allow the bolster to support you. The important thing here is to allow baby to hang off the back edge of the bolster. If the bolster is too low for you to recline over, then you can put another pillow or block on top and rest your head higher up!

Queen’s Chair

Queen’s Chair – the sweetest spot in all of yoga, prenatal or otherwise!

Alternative props: stacking blankets so they create an angle instead of blocks, sturdy blanket instead of a bolster

Instructions: Place your blocks in an L shape, and place the bolster diagonally against the blocks. You want the bottom of the bolster to be on the ground. Then bring your tush right up against the bottom of the bolster and recline. Then for some extra sweetness, place a blanket over the pelvis for some weight and warmth. Legs can be crossed or out straight here, whatever feels good to you!

Need to see all of this in action? Here’s a video of me putting all of the props into place and getting into each pose.

Namaste, Stephanie

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