Soon-to-be mamas, it’s time to keep yourself healthy and strong with baby in the womb. World-renowned yogini Briohny Smyth shares some of her favorite yoga poses from her program, “Beautiful Belly,” and offers tips for all those beautiful bellies out there!
Why Briohny Smyth Likes This Pose When in this pose, soon-to-be mamas don’t get much of a stretch, but for Briohny, Vajrasana is a great place for moms to sit and hold their belly, to feel connected to the life inside them.
"It’s a nice place to center yourself," said the yogini, "You can close your eyes and really focus on your breathing."
How to Do the Pose Sit on your shin with your feet together. Take this moment to bring your hands to your belly and close your eyes. In "Beautiful Belly," Briohny suggests that with each inhalation, you create a space for your baby, and in each exhalation, you imagine giving your baby a hug. For those who walk a lot or do not practice every day, you can always sit on a block under the bum to make it easier on your feet.
Why Briohny Smyth Likes This Pose For any pregnant woman, Anjaneyasana is a great way to open the top of hips. A lot of times, when we are new to pregnancy, we tend to forget about our hips.
"We hunch over a bit. They get tight...we can’t see them anymore, especially with the belly in the way. (This pose) keeps the hips stretched and increases circulation around the pelvic area. There’s a lot going around the pelvic area, and this is a great stretch to bring attention and awareness."
How to Do the Pose Starting from a standing forward bend pose, or Uttanasana, step one leg back to the back of the mat in a lunge and bring the knee down, releasing your hip from the ground. Make sure to keep the front leg knee not past the ankle.
You can place two blocks under your shoulders to ensure that your hands are supporting you. Briohny reminds pregnant mamas of the importance of getting and using props, especially if the belly gets quite big. But if you have no access to prenatal yoga props, you can modify them by using home items, such as a stack of books.
Next, lift the pelvic fore and hug your inner thighs into one another, drawing your tailbone down to deepen the stretch in the back leg and protect your lower back. Inhale. Stretch your spine as you bring your torso up and reach your hands forward and up, with palms facing up. Exhale and bring your arms back on the blocks.
Why Briohny Smyth Likes This Pose The Warrior II pose can be quite a challenging pose but is also a foundational and empowering posture. Moreover, it calls for mamas to use their hips as well as their arms to keep them strong.
"When we’re pregnant, we focus on trying to get the hips open, but honestly that happens for the most part naturally. A lot of women deal with hyper mobility later in pregnancy due to the natural part of working toward labor...For ladies, especially those in the middle to late part of their second trimester, we get more flexible, and stretching feels good, but we end up pulling something or getting injured. (The Warrior II pose) reminds me to engage my outer hips, to keep the arms nice and tone, and to bring awareness to the pelvic floor."
How to Do the Pose Standing in the Tadasana position, you would usually step your left foot back and come into a wide-leg stance. Point your front foot forward and your back foot at a 45 degree angle, aligning the front foot heel with the back foot arch. Then, bend into the front leg knee, making sure your knees are not bending past the ankle. Open your arms out wide with your right hand forward and your left arm back. Gaze toward your fingertips. Make sure you draw your tail bone down and lengthen your spine as you inhale, sink down deeper as you exhale.
Why Briohny Smyth Likes This Pose Parvritta Janusirasana is one of Briohny’s favorite poses.
"Whenever you can stretch multiple parts of the body at the same time, it’s really awesome. When I was pregnant and even now, it feels like the muscles are quite imbalanced and tight. There’s a certain amount of flexibility that’s there but it just feels a little messed up from the pregnancy. This pose alleviated lower back pressure, hip flexors soreness and QL muscle soreness."
How to Do the Pose Coming to a seated position, slide the leg on the mat, with padding underneath the leg. Draw the sole of one foot toward you while the other leg remains straight. (For those more flexible mamas, facing almost forward on the mat, you can try opening that bent knee out wide.)
Take a block to the inner knee of the straight leg, placing the same sided arm on that block. Then, reach the other arm up and over the ear. You can also look up toward your raised arm and draw your shoulder blades down. To make sure you’re revolving the right way, face the bottom section of that arm forward and the top of the straight arm back.