Yin Yoga for Pregnant Women

Check out this topic for women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or who just had a baby or for any other issues related to sexuality for men or women.
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damolynn
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Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 2:00 am

Yin Yoga for Pregnant Women

Post by damolynn »

I love the information I find on yinyoga.com. Can you please tell me if there are yin poses for pregnant women? When I practice yoga it helps me relax. But now that I'm pregnant (2nd trimester) I'm not sure which poses I can do with my growing belly.
~ Sunny Mom
(Marin, California)
Bernie
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Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Yin Yoga while pregnant

Post by Bernie »

Thanks for the question: it is one that is often asked. I would be curious to hear from students who have had babies - how did your Yin Yoga practice feel/help/hinder you?

As a guy, I can not speak from personal experience but I can share what a few pregnant students have told me. Firstly, they do love the backbends! It feels so good to move the spine backwards when there is all the weight pulling you forward. But of course, you can't do Sphinx pose as that would put pressure right on the belly. Seal pose however should be accessible as the belly just hangs down, because the arms are locked straight under you. If your belly does feel compressed even in Seal, try a bolster or pillow under your pubic bone and experiment with resting your hands on blocks. Full Swan may also be nice as it is a back bend as well.

Squat, Butterfly and Straddle folds all create space for the growing belly and help to open the hips. I have heard good things from women doing these poses. One caution though: as I have mentioned in previous posts, at this time the hormone relaxin is flooding through your body causing your ligaments to soften and stretch. This is important because it allows the pelvis to accommodate the head of the baby during birth. So you are already becoming more and more open. Now is not the time to be trying to set any new records! Don't try to go too far. With the ligaments already softening, you could easily damage them. A good rule of thumb could be: however open you were before becoming pregnant, only go that far in your poses now. Now is not the time to try to go deeper.

Another traditional backbend in Yin Yoga is Saddle. However, generally women are advised not to lie on their backs when they are pregnant as it can cut off blood flow through the vena cava vein (which brings blood from the uterus to the heart). Saddle is probably not a good idea right now. Strong twists may also not be a good idea, as they increase abdominal pressure, but side bends should be okay.

As you know, Yin Yoga stimulates the meridian lines: this is very beneficial for both baby and mother. Yin Yoga may be the best kind of yoga right now, done intelligently. Work on stimulating all the meridian lines. A flow to do this could be:

Butterfly (Liver, Kidney and Urinary Bladder lines)
Dragonfly - left leg, right leg and down the middle (Liver, Kidney and Urinary Bladder lines)
Square pose (Gall Bladder and Liver lines)
Swan with chest up (All 6 lower body meridians: Liver, Kidneys, Spleen, Stomach, Gall Bladder and Urinary Bladder)
[Remember to do both sides of Square and Swan]
Seal Pose (Urinary Bladder, Kidneys and Stomach Lines)
Wide knee Child Pose (Liver, Gall Bladder and Kidney Lines)
Easy Frog or Tadpole (Liver, Gall Bladder, Urinary Bladder and Kidney Lines)
Shavasana - lying on your left side, not on your back, to avoid pressure on the vena cava vein. You can put a pillow between your knees and/or under your belly for support.

Go easy - remember this is a yin practice. Enjoy the sensations and feel the chi/prana/energy flowing to your baby as well as to the rest of your body.

Let us know how it goes and what works for you (every body is different!) As long as you are watching and alert, you should figure out pretty quick which poses work and which ones don't.

Cheers
Bernie
damolynn
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Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 2:00 am

Update: yin pregnancy poses

Post by damolynn »

Hi everyone,

I'm 5 months pregnant and last night I did the series of 8 yin pregnancy poses Bernie suggested. Then I crawled into bed. I slept better than I have in awhile. And the ache I had been feeling in my upper back was gone. Since I noticed immediate results I'm going to try and incorporate this into my daily routine for the remainder of my pregnancy. I wish I did a regular yoga routine during my first pregnancy. I'm sure I would have had a more enjoyable and comfortable experience!

Thanks again Bernie,

Lynn
~ Sunny Mom
(Marin, California)
Cali_Mom
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2008 3:17 pm
Location: California

Feedback: Prenatal Yin Poses

Post by Cali_Mom »

Hi,

So after doing these poses I'm pleased to report I sleep better, which is much needed and appreciated! Insomnia plagued me during my first trimester and I'm grateful I've found some tools this time around to combat it.

As I head into my third trimester I'm curious if these poses will help with some other issues that bothered me during my first pregnancy. Do they help to relieve:
1). Morning sickness?
2). Acid reflux?
3). Urinating so much (I doubt it but have to ask!)?
4). Constipation?
5). Me feeling so hot (when I'm not pregnant I run cold)?

Also I'm experiencing some challenges during some of the poses:
1). Square pose - I've had ACL reconstruction on both knees (college sports). So this pose is difficult for me. I initially thought I had to sit with my legs stacked on top of one another. But then I found the illustrated poses under Yin Asanas and realized I don't have to. Please confirm.

2). Child's Pose - Should I be resting my nose or forehead on the ground? Both ways are very uncomfortable. If I rest on my nose I can't breathe so I hold my mouth open and I feel tension in my jaw. If I rest on my forehead I feel tension in the back of my neck because I'm holding my nose/chin off the ground. To solve these problems may I turn my head to the left and then the right? Then I can completely relax my muscles.

Thanks so much!
Bernie
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Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Seeking Pregnant Yinsters!

Post by Bernie »

Hi Cali_mom

Unfortunately, being a man who has never experienced pregnancy personally (did watch my wife go through two, but that was way before I discovered yoga and it wasn't my body going through the changes) I can't really answer all your questions. Perhaps the other yoginis out there can help? Calling all yinyoginis: any thoughts on these questions? Can you offer suggestions from your own experiences on hot to mitigage acid reflux, morning sickness, constant urination and constipation via Yin Yoga?

I can answer the final questions you raised:

Square pose: this one is not for everyone...and that is why we have so many other ways to get into the hips in Yin Yoga. You can do Swan, or Sleeping Swan, you can try Shoelace or you can try Winged Dragon or even Deer pose. But, as you discovered, Square pose can work if you let your top foot come to the floor in front of the bottom knee. You are correct, you don't have to have your foot/ankle on the knee!

Child's Pose: your head should be comfortably resting...no need to squish your poor nose in the process. Cool your forehead on the ground, not your nose. If the head doesn't like this position, here are some other options: turn you head to the side, rest your head on your hands, rest your head on a bolster, in fact rest your whole chest on a bolster or large pillow. Some people like to do Child's Pose with their arms between their knees, hands between their feet and their head turned to one side. Certainly as your belly grows over the months, you will want to have your knees apart in Child's Pose and resting your upper body on a bolster will feel nice.

Cheers
Bernie
hannahmarie
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Post by hannahmarie »

Hi,

As I mentioned on another topic on this site.. For me, the back bending poses such as swan and seal became too much of a stretch on the front body at around 3 months pregnant with twins. Saddle with a bolster I enjoyed for longer, 1-3 minutes maximum though however, as from about 6/7 months pregnant lying on my back for more than 5 minutes was very uncomfy and still is (at 8 months).

I had heart burn (acid reflux) quite badly for the middle of my pregnancy, thankfully it seems to have eased a bit :)

Standing facing a wall with your feet about 2-3 ft away and walking your hands up the wall to stretch then your upper back and shoulders is credited with helping. I found that Vinyasa style practice was not suitable for me during this pregnancy, it exacerbated a lot of symptoms including heart burn. So I would say move slowly and gently and be carful not to led the head hang below the heart in a forward bend.. Try to keep it up even when lying flat, as this seemed to help me.

I'm afraid that just trying to eat more raw food as much as possible (fruits and veges) , nothing fried, no bread and staying away from acidic or cooked foods as much as possible seemed to be the best thing. I also found that this helped with morning sickness. Definitely staying away from processed foods as much as possible. When I ate badly, my sickness was much worse the next day.

Another thing worth mentioning is that during pregnancy my legs have become stiff very easily.. to avoid cramping etc try to keep the fluids moving, rotate ankles after coming out of yin poses, shake them out etc. The yin stretches for the legs have really helped prevent the stiffness, So I have been focusing more on the lower body than yin on the spine. I find Yang such as cat/ cow variations work well for keeping my spine mobile. I will return to the deeper yin backbends sometime after pregnancy I am sure...

As for forward folding and compressing the belly.. As Bernie says, it will get to a point where your belly is too big to allow such a thing. I have never 'hurt' myself by compressing my belly.. It's size means that I just can't forward fold in the same way as without it.. I just meet with it earlier. So taking the legs wide has become the only option. I think that using a chair is a good suggestion.

Cooling breath can help with feeling hot (I feel the same!) and gentle Yin stretches are cooling. Constipation; cat/ cow, side bends, gentle twists (a good one whilst preg is standing and letting your arms swing by your sides as you rotate left and right, like on Simon Low's Yin/ Yang DVD. In the YAng portion. Moving with the breath slowly, deep breathing with a long slow exhale, drinking lots of water and again, raw fruit and veg as much as possible. Urinating.. You can (and I reccommend that you) strengthen your pelvic floor muscles daily.. I know it may sound boring but I have found it really essential. That will hold it in, but you will still need to go when you have the chance!

Hope that this helps :)
"Don't sweat the petty stuff and don't pet the sweaty stuff"
hannahmarie
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Post by hannahmarie »

another thing ... I found that even when my belly popped out a little.. I couldn't lean forward in shoelace enough to get the beneficial opening in my hips that I was looking for. So I substituted it with sleeping swan, square pose, or eye of the needle pose. I see the yin poses as existing in groups, so if one version can't be done, you can try another from the same group.

Twists are benefical also, for the whole spine, lower back and SI joint, especially if you are having constipation, but you need to be very slow and gentle. Using a bolster under the knees, not holding too long and keeping the head facing the same way as the legs, rather than turning away from the legs are all things that I have found ease the depth of the twist.

:)
"Don't sweat the petty stuff and don't pet the sweaty stuff"
Mischa
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Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2012 7:47 pm

Post by Mischa »

Hello,

I have been practicing Yin yoga for a few years and really enjoying the benefits of it. I usually hold the poses for 5 minutes or longer depending on the poses and wondering if it's contraindicated to hold some of the poses for such a long time for pregnant women.
Is there any poses that are okay to hold for a long time and any poses that are contraindicated to be hold for a long time. Please let me know.

Thank you
Bernie
Posts: 1195
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

How long to hold?

Post by Bernie »

Hi Mischa

What is the right time for YOU to hold the pose is unique for you because each person is different and each pregnancy is different, but to be safe - err on the shorter side. There are many posts here from women who are yin yoga teachers and who have been pregnant and got a lot from their yin yoga practice while pregnant. You may learn a lot from their experiences which will allow you to determine what is right for you. As the pregnancy continues, it may be more appropriate for you to back off on the duration of the poses, maybe doing poses that you used to hold for five minutes for only three minutes now. The key is how you feel, both during the pose and especially afterwards. Notice the sensations you experience after you come out of the pose and for the next day or two to make sure everything still seems "right" to you.

There are poses that, even when you are not pregnant, invite longer stays and other poses that demand you come out earlier, but in general, when you are pregnant, avoid long compressions of the belly, thus deep and long-held twists are not a great idea. Straddle or Seal poses may still held for a long-ish duration, depending upon how you feel but Reclining Twist and Shoelace with Twists may not be great. For the sitting twist options, trying twisting away from the top leg rather than towards it: this will allow almost as much twist but without the compression of the belly into the top thigh.

Good luck, and do let us know how it goes because there are many other pregnant women who don't have your length of experience in yin yoga would would benefit from learning from you.

Cheers
Bernie
eharlan
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Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 4:01 am
Location: sacramento
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YIN during PREGNANCY

Post by eharlan »

:D Thank you ALL so much for all of the information posted on this topic.
Have scheduled an Autumn Yin workshop and had several MOMs to be asking
about participating. Based on the information provided, I am putting together an information sheet to give to them before signing up and before attending. Some things to consider before the workshop and be aware of during the practice as modifications or adjustments are offered.

OH, I do have an additional question. Are there any other suggestions specifically regarding Yin poses during the 1st trimester of pregnancy.


THANK YOU
Evelyn in Sacramento
Bernie
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Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Yin Yoga in the First Trimester

Post by Bernie »

Here is an excerpt from my book The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga on the first trimester.
  • The baby is just getting nicely settled in now; generally women are told not
    to do inversions so that the embryo can implant firmly into the walls of the
    uterus. We don’t have to worry too much about this in Yin Yoga because,
    aside from the Snail pose and Wall Arch, there are no inversions. In the first
    trimester the belly is not so big that it gets in the way of forward folds or
    twists, but you should start to reduce compression here anyway.

    It is in the first trimester, and again just before delivery, that relaxin is
    released in high concentrations. one area that really starts to soften is the
    pubic symphysis, the cartilage between the pubic rami. this area will need
    to open to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal, but in our yoga
    practice we can inadvertently overstress this area. take care in any poses
    involving abduction of the legs (Butterfly and Straddle) to not go further
    than you could go before you became pregnant.
It would be great to hear from the Yin teachers who are prenatal teachers and are mothers too!

Cheers
Bernie
JackTangles
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Sep 07, 2017 8:54 am

Was just gonna ask

Post by JackTangles »

I have a fiancee who just got pregnant and was wondering how long we'd able to do yin for until it got too uncomfortable. As usual, thanks for the information Bernie!
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