The Pregnant Athlete

Learning To Embrace My Changing Pregnant Body While Swimming, Biking, Running & Practicing Yoga

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5 favorite prenatal yoga poses.

Week 27 | +20 lbs

Yoga has been my means to counterbalancing my busy and active lifestyle since 2008. Not only has it helped me recover from running injuries over the past six years since I ran my first marathon, but it has also nourished my overall mental and spiritual well-being.  Amazingly, my yoga practice has assumed a deeper role during my pregnancy–it is during yoga that I feel the most connected to my husband and my unborn daughter.  With each inhale, I give life to our baby.  With each exhale, I let go of daily stresses that sometimes seem to have become magnified during my pregnancy. I am fully aware of each of our baby’s movements during yoga, that which I’m completely unaware of during my other active pursuits.

Side stretch during prenatal yoga class shoot, 4/18/14

Side stretch during prenatal yoga class shoot at Sacred Sounds Yoga, 4/18/14

The following are my 5 favorite prenatal yoga poses:

Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)  – We, mommies-to-be that are in our first and second trimesters, typically start class in supta baddha konasana at my studio, whereas third trimester moms taking side-lying pose. We each use two blocks and a bolster to help prop up our upper bodies, and often wrap a rolled up blanket around our feet (see photo below).  I’ve found that starting class in this pose has been the best way to help clear my thoughts, and focus on the connection between our baby and me. I feel closest to our baby in the pose, as I can feel all of her hiccups, kicks and slight movements.

Squat (Malasana) – Malasana helps to increase mobility in the hips, stretches and soothes the back and strengthens the abdomen–all of these benefits have a positive impact on labor and delivery.  Additionally, women are often advised to squat during childbirth. I, personally, have always loved this posture during class, though I often transitioned into Crow Pose (Bakasana) following it pre-pregnancy, whereas I am happy just to squat these days.  I magine I will spend a lot of time laboring in it.

Half Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Half Chaturanga Dandasana) – Half Chaturanga is the only pose that makes me feel like I’m strengthening upper back and triceps, as most of prenatal yoga is focused on either stretching or pain management practice for childbirth.  I love that the posture often makes my upper body sore these days, a signal that I’m really working my muscles.

Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) – Pigeon Pose has always been one of my favorite yoga poses as a runner.  It helps to lengthen the hip flexors, increase the external range of motion of the femurs in the hip sockets, and stretch the iliotibial (IT) band.   For runners, tight hip flexors prevent full rear extension of the leg. To compensate, stiff runners achieve extension by arching their back and tilting their pelvis forward; this shifts the foot strike forward, in front of the runner’s center of mass, and creates an inefficient braking force, as well as a heavy foot strike that takes its toll on ankle, hip, and knee joints, explains USA Triathlon performance adviser Bobby McGee.  I love breathing  into pigeon pose, inhaling to lengthen and exhaling to deepen the stretch, while feeling our baby’s movements in my belly below me.

Child’s Pose (Balasana) – Child’s Pose calms the brain, helps relieve stress and fatigue, and alleviates back and neck pain with the head is supported, often with a block.  I love practicing kegels in Child’s Pose during class. Not only does it feel especially intimate to practice kegels in this posture, as opposed to doing so sitting up, but I am thrilled to feel our baby kick during the practice. It brings a smile to my face every time.

Supta baddha konasana during prenatal yoga class shoot at Sacred Sounds Yoga, 4/18/14

Supta baddha konasana during prenatal yoga class shoot at Sacred Sounds Yoga, 4/18/14

Week 25 (4/13-19) training: 38.1 miles 

Sunday: 13.1 miles
Monday: Spin
Tuesday: Yoga
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: Yoga
Saturday: 20 miles

Week 26 (4/20-26) training: 23 miles 

Sunday: 3 miles
Monday: Spin
Tuesday: Yoga, 3 miles
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 12 miles