The word “yoga” literally means to yoke, or join together, the body and mind. At her Golden Bridge Yoga Studio in Los Angeles, Kundalini yoga instructor Gurmukh teaches legions of pregnant women to yoke their body, breath and mind with the soul growing within them. Gurmukh has inspired expectant moms such as Madonna, Cindy Crawford and Reese Witherspoon to approach pregnancy as yoginis, or women who practice yoga.
The simple yet powerful prenatal program shown here is based on Kundalini yoga (“Kundalini” refers to the spiritual energy within the body that yoga unleashes). It was designed by Gurmukh, who is pictured with our model on pg. 90, and adapted by Fit Pregnancy fitness editor Teri Hanson. This routine, which can be done to your favorite music, promotes Gurmukh’s message for expectant women to make the most of this special time. “Bringing a meditative element to your life now makes you more peaceful and more appreciative of the gift you have been given,” she says. “It teaches you how to get in touch with your natural rhythm and energy to harness them for the stamina required during labor.”
Paul Crane, M.D., an OB-GYN at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, has seen that energy in action. “Through its emphasis on concentration and breathing, yoga gives women a physical and emotional practice that can transform nicely into the birth,” he says. “Their birth process often becomes an extension of their yoga practice.”
1. Miracle Meditation
You can do this pose at the beginning and end of the routine. Sit in a cross-legged position with your spine straight. Bring your hands together 6 inches from your chest, pinkies touching and palms cupped. Close your eyes and remain quiet and still. Keeping your breath smooth, imagine placing everything that brings you joy in the palms of your hands. Say a silent prayer of gratitude for each of them. Rest for 3–5 breaths.
2. Pregnancy Yogi Squat
Stand with your feet more than hip-width apart. Place hands in prayer position [A]. Inhale and sweep arms out and up, keeping hands together, eyes looking up [B]. Exhale as you bring your hands back to heart center and lower your body into a deep squat; hold for 1–2 breaths. Keep feet flat on the floor [C]. (If heels come up, place a folded blanket under them.) Tip forward to place hands on floor [D]. Roll up to standing [E], pushing off thighs if necessary. Inhale and sweep arms out, up and back to prayer pose overhead. Exhale as you place hands back to your heart center [A]. Lower eyes and rest for a moment. Repeat for 8–10 squats, progressing to 15.