While strengthening and stretching is an important aspect of a prenatal yoga or yoga for fertility practice, relaxation and healing is an equally (if not more) important complementary element of the practice. Restorative yoga, which consists of supported relaxation postures held for a prolonged period of time (usually around five minutes or so), provides the body and mind with a designated time for healing, rest, and integration.
From a scientific perspective, restorative yoga allows the body’s parasympathetic nervous system to kick in. The parasympathetic nervous system (as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system) is responsible for the resting, digestive, and regenerative functions of the body. In other words, when we are relaxed, our bodies can perform all of the tasks associated with healing, resting, and digestion, required for us to be able to function in our otherwise busy daily lives. By contrast, our sympathetic nervous system is at play when we are running around and full of adrenaline throughout our day, or during “fight or flight” responses.
For pregnant women, whose bodies and minds are constantly working to literally create life inside of them, restorative yoga is a perfect way to help your body rest and regenerate in order to complete this profound and instinctual task of creation. Restorative yoga also allows your mind a rest from the stresses and anxieties you may be feeling during pregnancy and in preparation for birth. For women and couples trying to conceive, restorative yoga has similar effects – preparing and healing the body and mind in order to make space for conception.
During restorative yoga let your breath be natural and easy. If focusing on your breath or counting your breath helps you to calm your mind, give it a try. Instead of fixating on your breath, however, during your restorative practice try to let your breath, body, and mind just be. Of course feel free to modify your breath when incorporating a breathing technique with a pose.
Use the following links to poses and breathing exercises (explained in detail) to get you started on your restorative yoga practice. They are suitable for any woman (or partner) during pregnancy or when they are trying to conceive. It is important to observe your bodily sensations during the poses as this will help you connect with your body and avoid strain or injury. Trust yourself to know when something is not right for you. If at any time something is causing you pain or simply just doesn’t feel right, slowly come out of the pose and rest in a comfortable position. Modifications of the poses, based on common experiences or changes throughout the trimesters, will also be explained.
- Supported Child's Pose (Garbhasana)
- Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
- Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
- Seated Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Upavistha Konasana)
- Final Resting Pose (Savasana)
Read more: Prenatal Yoga