As a prenatal yoga instructor, I connect with countless moms-to-be on a weekly basis. A large percentage of my students are new to yoga, and often mention a part of their inspiration to begin is that their care provider suggested yoga as a great form of exercise during pregnancy. This advice is aligned with the research that shows a regular yoga practice helps reduce stress and anxiety; improve sleep; increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth; and decrease back pain, nausea, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches and shortness of breath. To maximize these amazing benefits it is best to work with a knowledgeable teacher who has training and education in the application of yoga for pregnancy.
The Recliner — melt, visualize, breath
One of the cornerstone principles of a prenatal yoga practice is the concept of creating space. On a physical level space is made by modifying postures so there is room for the baby - think open twists and wide-legged child's pose. As space is cultivated in the body, it is also created in the heart, mind and spirit. We are after all ,according to yogic theory, multidimensional beings with intrinsically connected layers. Savasana offers another opportunity to cultivate space as mom relaxes deeply and the body, mind and nervous system unwind.
One of my go-to relaxation poses for moms has come to be named “Recliner” and uses two round bolsters, two blocks and a blanket. I’ve literally watched moms melt into this posture. It is a great place to do some guided visualization and breath work as well.
Recliner is ideal for a prenatal student because it opens the chest, allows mom to recline without being directly on her back thus avoiding potential risk to flow of the vena cava, and it supports the sacrum.
Pregnancy not required!
Pregnancy is not a prerequisite for practicing Recliner asana in a restorative practice or as a savasana variation. I encourage you to explore the shape, whether pregnant or not, with interest in the spaciousness that results from being so supported.
To create this shape, you’ll need two bolsters, two blocks and a blanket:
-Stack one block at tall height toward the back end of your mat and the other block at medium height in front
-Place a bolster against each of the blocks, making sure the top portion of the bolster is well supported
-Fold the blanket to make a little seat and place the rounded edge toward the bolster
-Sit on the blanket with your knees under the second bolster and the back of your pelvis up against the bolster
-Place soles of the feet together so the knees are wide over the bolster
-Recline back and melt the shoulder blades and back toward the supporting bolsters beneath you
-Extra support…If you’ve got the props for it, a bolster can also be positioned under each forearm to make this pose extra supportive.
Jillian is a yogini based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She leads weekly public yoga classes for adults and specializes in yoga for kids and families. Her studies have led her to complete trainings at YogaWorks, Karma Kids and Yoga Playgrounds. Jillian feels blessed to practice and teach yoga and is particularly passionate about empowering her students with tools to navigate the modern world with ease.