The Pregnancy Program
“Yoga alleviates many of pregnancy’s common discomforts,” says Slote, who designed the following series of poses that are linked together with breath and movement. Do this routine 3–4 times per week in the order shown, resting between poses if needed. When you are ready to progress, try doing the entire program from start to finish without resting.
1. Standing Mountain: Stand with your feet farther than hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and toes pointed straight ahead, your palms touching at “heart center” (in front of your chest).
Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Inhale and sweep your arms out and overhead, bending back slightly. Exhale and stand upright, returning hands to heart center. Repeat for 10 full breaths. The continuous flow warms up your body and prepares you for the rest of the program.
2. Supported Triangle: Stand with your feet farther than shoulder-width apart, toes facing front, hands on hips. Turn your right toes in and left toes out. Bend left leg, placing your left hand on the thigh, eyes looking down. Inhale, then exhale as you lift your right arm above your shoulder and turn your head, eyes looking up. Place your left arm on your thigh for support. Hold for 1 full breath as you lower your right arm and straighten leg. Return to starting position, then repeat for 5 full breaths. Reverse feet and repeat sequence on the other side. Strengthens and stretches the entire body and helps prepare you for labor.
3. Supported Squat: Stand with your feet farther than hip-width apart, with a stack of pillows on the floor behind you. Bend knees to lower hips into a deep squat, sitting on the pillows for support. Place your palms together at heart center (shown). Close your eyes and breathe deeply through your nose as you relax your pelvic floor (the muscles surrounding the vagina). Hold for 10 full breaths, then go onto hands and knees for next move. Note: This pose is not recommended if you are experiencing any signs of premature labor. Teaches you to relax the pelvic floor, preparing you for labor.
4. Moving Cat Sequence: Kneel on all fours, abdominals drawn in. Inhale and gently arch your back, tipping your tailbone up, eyes looking up. Exhale and round your back as you tuck your chin in toward your chest. Sit back on your heels into Child’s Pose and relax for 1 breath. Repeat sequence 10 times. Remain in Child’s Pose for 5 slow breaths to cool down. Builds stamina and strength in the arms, back and abs, and teaches you to relax and let go.