This week, we were really lucky to be able to catch Josephine Chan in her favourite place – her yoga studio. Author of Prenatal Yoga under MPH’s Parenting series (now available in all MPH outlets for RM35.90), she is a firm believer in the benefits of practicing yoga regularly during pregnancy. Being a regular practitioner of yoga during your pregnancy has been proven to ease your body into labour and certain exercises have been proven to speed up the postnatal healing process of your mind and body.
One of the most common ailments to afflict expectant mothers are lower back aches. According to Josephine, this is caused by the inverted arch your back starts to take on when the weight of your developing baby increases. In order to counter this problem, she has agreed to show us five of her top yoga poses to help lengthen your spine again and provide instant relief.
Stand with your feet apart (slightly further than shoulder length) and slowly lower yourself down into a squat position. As you’re lowering yourself into it, remember to keep your back straight. You can hold this position for about 1-2 minutes or 5 breaths with natural breathing. If you’re in your third trimester, you can perform this move with your back resting against a wall.
2. Turtle Pose
Sit with the soles of your feet gently pressed together. When you’re sitting up, straighten your back first before slowly leaning forward. Slide your arms underneath your legs from inside to the outside and hold onto your feet. As you hold on to your feet, bring yourself forward. Hold this position for about 5 minutes or until your back ache has been relieved.
3. Child pose
Position yourself on your hands and knees with your feet touching each other. Slowly lower yourself down onto your feet and while maintaining a straight back, keep your arms in place above your head until you’re touching the floor. Maintain this position for at least 1-2 minutes, or until your back ache has been relieved. Alternatively, you can fold your arms and use them to rest your forehead on for added comfort or a small cushion.
4. Wide-leg stretch
Sit up with your back straight and keep your legs apart as wide as you can manage. Slowly bend over as far as you can – you can bend your knees if the stretching becomes too painful. Remember, this exercise is to help lengthen your spine, so flexibility isn’t the focus here! This position will also help loosen up your hamstrings, so take care not to overexert yourself and risk injury to your hamstrings.
5. Wall stand
This one requires the help of yoga blocks. By positioning two yoga blocks between your back and the wall – one between your shoulder blades and another on your lower back – this will help your back to maintain a straight posture instead of an arched one and realign your standing posture. Try to keep the blocks as flat against the wall as possible.
These poses can be done anytime you’re free and the best part is that you don’t need to have a set routine! You can hold each pose for about three to five minutes whenever you have the time, and they are guaranteed to provide instant relief to your back.
If you’re interested in what else Josephine has to offer on prenatal yoga, you can email her at [email protected] or drop by for a visit at Surya Yoga. For more information, check out the studio’s website here.
Image credits: Josephine Chan.
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