With so many physical and emotional changes happening, it’s no surprise that many women have insomnia and other sleep problems during pregnancy. Here are some lovely restorative yoga poses to help you relax your mind and your body before bedtime.
1.Bedtime pranayama (breath work)
Find a comfortable seated position with your back supported against the wall or semi reclined onto your bolster with your soles of your feet together. Start to bring your awareness to your breath and focus on relaxation and comfort here.
- Close your eyes and start to notice your breath.
- Begin by simply slowing down your breath until you can count to 4 on your inhale and 4 on your exhale.
- As you feel comfortable here, progress by slowly lengthening each exhale 1–2 counts each round until you inhale for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 8.
- Visualize yourself letting go of any thoughts or stress and relaxing your body weight into the ground with gravity.
- Continue for 3–5 minutes, you can build up to as much as 10 minutes over time as long as it feels comfortable and relaxing.
2.Puppy pose to childs Pose modification
This is a lovely prenatal modification on the classic downward dog pose, whereby the weight of the growing baby can place too much weight on the wrists for some women to support the full posture so this version of the posture offers a far more restorative and comfortable option in later pregnancy. It is also great for relieving lower back pain and sciatica.
- To get into this pose simply come to all fours on the carpet and insert your rolled towel between your legs to protect your lower back and pop a bolster lengthways in front of your chest.
- Slowly walk your hands forward so that your chest rests down onto the bolster and your hips stay above your knees.
- Turn your head and rest one ear to the bolster for 1-2 minutes and then change to rest the opposite ear to the bolster. Remain here for another 1-2 minutes with your eyes closed and focusing on maintaining a slow relaxed breath.
3.Child’s pose modification
For this version of child’s pose you will need a yoga block or a rolled up towel to place under your forehead. Putting pressure on the “third eye” stimulates the vagus nerve, the body’s main messenger to the parasympathetic nervous system, regulating relaxation, heart rate, digestion, sleep, and well-being.
- To get into this pose simply draw your toes together and allow your hips to draw back down towards your heels and then walk your hands forward and place your forehead on a yoga block on its lowest level or rolled towel if you do not have a block.
- Stay for 2–4 minutes and visualize the thoughts pouring out of your brain onto the floor as you allow your mind to empty here.
- Allow your focal point to draw to the point between your eyebrows center where the pressure of the block rests.
4.Legs-up-the-wall or supported side child’s pose
Both of these poses are highly restorative and deeply relaxing but for those that find it too cumbersome to comfortably lie with legs up the wall without feeling compression of the belly, then supported side lying child’s pose is a great alternative.
Option 1 – Legs-up-the-wall
Lie with your legs up the wall (after 20 place an inclined bolster under your spine and supporting your head so that you are in a semi reclined rather than supine position).
- Make yourself comfortable here with your head and pelvis resting on the ground, a comfortable distance from the wall.
- Once you are comfortable come back to your breathing, slowly lengthening your exhales to allow your nervous system to drop in even deeper this time.
- Make sure you are able to let the breath be leisurely, as you rest in the exhales so that each round you visualize yourself melting deeper into the floor.
- Do 5–10 rounds of the 4-count inhale, 8-count exhales then let go of the pranayama practice and let the breath be natural for about 5 minutes.
- When you are finished, gently roll to your side and slowly head right to bed without turning on any lights or distractions.
Option 2 – Supported side child’s pose
You will need a bolster or rolled towel and a folded blanket and a pillow for your neck. You can lie on either your right side or you left side. Lying on your right side can help open your left nostril for increased airflow, which is believed to activate the right side of the brain and promote feelings of safety, ease, and sleepiness.
- To get into the pose lie on your bed on your side resting your head on a pillow.
- Draw your knees up toward your chest and place the folded blanket or bolster between your knees, lower legs, and feet. Your lower legs should be parallel to each other.
- Bring the rolled blanket in front of your torso to support your top arm and provide a sense of emotional support.
- Close your eyes and stay here for 5 to 10 minutes or until you drift into sleep.
If you want to know more about yoga for relaxation during pregnancy, please ask at reception at your next appointment or feel free to contact reception on 02 9251 8550.
By Portia Selkirk