Why Start a Home Practice?
While it can be daunting to consider establishing a home yoga practice, if you begin simply, your practice will evolve organically over time and bless you with the gifts of yoga. Like a newborn, your home practice needs attention and care. With steady dedication, it grows.
Quiet, sacred alone time is necessary for every mother. Even if it’s for a few minutes only.
Years ago, when I first began practicing at home, I chose an area on my living room rug where I’d spend about 20 minutes stretching in the early morning, before waking my school-aged children. At the time, yoga was new to me. As a stay-at-home mom, I'd go to one or two classes each week. In the early morning hours, I'd practice what I could remember having learned in class and what felt good in my body. Eventually I added breath practices as well as props. Since then, I've continue to nurture my practice and, in return, it continues to nurture and sustain me. An early, influential teacher would often say, "Come to class, to learn how to practice at home." While my home practice has changed over the years and has manifested differently during the various stages of my life, my love and appreciation for yoga and its gifts continue to inspire me.
What You Need
At first, no props are needed. You have only to clear space in your home, in your day and in your mind.
How to Begin
Consider what areas of the body you’d like to address. For example, if you feel tightness in your shoulders, think about the shoulder openers you’ve practiced in class. Raising your arms up overhead a few times may be an ideal way to start. If, on the other hand, you feel tightness in your hips or strain in your lower back, you could explore a sequence on all fours. Come to my prenatal classes @yogaworks on the UES to explore various movements and poses. This way, you put the memory of sequences in your body. Then, when practicing at home, as in labor, trust your body to tell you what you need, when you need. One movement often leads to another.
Ultimately a well-rounded practice extends, flexes and rotates the spine. A safe, active practice first warms up the body to energize it, after which calm and quiet can be experienced.
Best Poses During Pregnancy
Whether seated, supine or standing, the following poses will help relieve tightness and open your hips: wide straddle (upivista konasana), triangle (uttita trikonasana), cobbler’s pose (badha konasana) and ankle to knee which also may relieve sciatica.
Opening your shoulders regularly and consistently is beneficial, especially as pregnancy weight increases. It's also essential for a new mom who's nursing. While you can explore shoulder openers anywhere and anytime, after a shower, when muscles are more relaxed, is ideal. For example, raise your arms up overhead (urdhva hastasana). There's gomukasana and eagle arms to explore too. There are also several shoulder openers using a yoga belt.
As Your Pregnancy and Practice Progress
In time, consider adding props to expand your practice. Props can be especially helpful as pregnancy progresses. A pregnant mamma needs support.
Using 2 blocks, stack them one on top of the other and sit, to take an open twist, rotating your spine from side-to-side. Then, explore a few cycles of pelvic floor awareness. Using 2 blocks and a bolster, enjoy supported cobbler’s pose and legs up the wall.
incorporate breath practices to quiet the busy mind. Some helpful techniques during pregnancy and the early postnatal period include: womb breathing, alternate nostril breathing and viloma one.
Receive the Benefits of a Regular & Consistent Practice
By exploring movement, stillness and breath, a woman cultivates intimacy with herself. By addressing the needs of her body, she cultivates awareness and mindfulness, helping her to tune in to her inner wisdom. Regular and consistent practice helps alleviate anxiety, fear and irritability. With a home practice supporting her, a woman thus moves through pregnancy, labor and motherhood with grace, calm and compassion for herself and for others.
Begin simply. Practice for a short amount of time. Like a child who is nurtured and grows, by caring for your practice, it will grow and take care of you.