Yoga for Pregnancy

Yoga for Pregnancy by Wendy Teasdill, re-published by Gaia Books, 2005.

This is a reissue of the first edition of Yoga for Pregnancy, published in 1999. The underlying structure and ethos remains the same. The original hand-drawn illustrations have been replaced by full colour photographs of models doing the asanas, and the text has been re-written to accommodate their differing needs as they presented.

The re-construction of this book was a very organic and positive experience: a team of women gathered in a white house in Fortis Green, North London. The models I worked with for this book were all extraordinary women who were able to find their own peace on the Yoga mat as Ruth, the photographer, operated her camera with atomic sensitivity and fractional timing. Sally, the shoot director, not only guided us with cheerful accuracy, but also fed us her own organic health foods to keep us going through the long days. From the make-up girl to the photographer's assistant, everyone contributed to their maximum ability; back at base, Jo Godfrey Wood masterminded the whole enterprise, and Nick Harris, aparently the only man, shuffled backwards and forwards on the LTR with vital fonts and page lay-outs.

As Yoga is such an individual thing, I hope the new look and feel of the book will encourage people to work with who they are and with what they have at any given moment, rather than aspiring to a posture because it's in a book and that's how it ‘ought’ to be done. Of course, I hope people read the words, but also I hope they look at the faces and especially the eyes of the women so calmly doing their yoga postures, and feel inspired to find that peace and tranquillity within themselves.

Below are a few photos from the book, plus a few that we didn't find room for.

Click a thubnail picture for a larger version.

Click for larger imageVirabhadrasana I

Nobody said having a baby was going to be easy - or if they did, they were speaking for themselves and not for you. This posture is named for a follower of Shiva, the archetypal yogi, and means `Warrior.'

This first Warrior posture helps develop strength, self-confidence and ease; by working from a true sense of self, by being grounded by the feet and reaching up to the sky for help, the middle-ground, where the baby resides, is won.

 

Click for larger imageLying flat on the back in the later stages of pregnancy (especially after 32 weeks) is not for everyone: you may feel breathless or dizzy and, if this is so, then don't.

However, as long as you are comfortable and the legs are bent, it can be a wonderful way to relieve pressure on the ligaments attaching the uterus to the spine, thus easing back-ache.

Gentle hamstring stretches, like the one pictured above, helps counter aching legs and varicose veins. Using the Mula Bandha and pressing the sole of the foot gently downwards into the floor with a long slow exhalation, can be helpful in releasing pressure on the lower back. Do not hold this position for longer than five breaths each side.

 

Click for larger imageSupine postures are not necessarily comfortable later in the pregnancy - maybe as a result of the pressure of the growing baby on the vena cava which can impede the blood return from the legs.

In the first trimester, however, when asana is not recommended, simple supine breathing exercises done with the legs bent can be very calming.

 

Click for larger imageVery moderate Trikonasa. Trikonasana is 'Triangle', and the stability of the triangle needs to be maintained to prevent overloading of the leading side, foot and knee.

Lateral stretches are great in pregnancy but be careful coming out - use the arms and the breath to bring you up in order not to pull on the sacroiliac of the back hip.

 

Click for larger imageThis supported squat against the wall gives a lovely long stretch to the spine. The blocks remove stress from the pelvic floor and knees, while allowing the lumbar spine to grow out of the pelvis. This, combined with the shoulder-stretch up the wall, helps create space for both mother and baby, encouraging optimal foetal positioning.

If the fingers tingle above the head, bring them down and place the hands behind the pelvis.

If the head does not comfortably lean against the wall, place a cushion between the head and the wall.

 

Click for larger imageRoaring like a lion releases tension round the neck, throat, face and eyes.

Use Mula Bandha (the root lock, whereby all the muscles of the pelvic floor are drawn inwards and up) while you roar, to prevent undue pressure on the cervix.

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