How to modify a Sun Salutation for pregnancy

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For many women, prenatal yoga is the first introduction to yoga. Often, expectant mothers come to yoga classes because their pregnant friends recommended it. They felt the benefits in pregnancy, during labour, and beyond. There really aren’t many contraindications in prenatal yoga, the most important thing is to follow your instincts. You don’t want to put pressure on the abdomen or do deep twists, but your instincts will probably tell you exactly that.

Sun salutation is one of of my favorite sequences to teach in prenatal yoga. It can be modified many ways, depending on fitness level and how many weeks into the pregnancy that a woman is. As the belly gets heavier, swap lunges and updog for wide-legged child’s pose and cat.

My favourite Sun Salutation with modifications for a pregnant woman goes like this:

Root down into the four corners of the feet, hands in prayer.
Inhale, sweep the arms up.
Exhale, roll down, leaving enough space for the belly.
Inhale, flat back, hands on shins. Exhale, hands down, bring the right knee down, left knee down, wide-legged child’s pose.
Inhale, spread the feet, come into cat.
Exhale, down dog.
Peddle out the legs and walk up toward the hands.
Inhale, flat back.
Exhale touch the ground.
Inhale sweeping arms up to standing.
Repeat, alternating the leg that comes first into wide-legged child’s pose.

Repeat the sequence a few times and finish with Viparita Karani (Legs up the wall pose.) Learn this pose in prenatal yoga, to help with water retention and swollen legs, and remember it for when you’re a new mom. 10 minutes with your legs up the wall is as energizing as a nap. Really. Lie on your back, bum close to the wall, but not as close as you might if you weren’t pregnant. Some people like a folded blanket under the bum for extra support. Some women, especially as the pregnancy progresses, will not be comfortable in this posture. Again, it’s important to listen to your body.

Jenny teaches Wednesday night Prenatal Yoga and Friday afternoon Mom & Baby Yoga at Studio Vie, as well as private therapeutic yoga for pregnancy and postpartum. Find her at: www.bonadeayoga.com.