Tara Lee has been practicing yoga for over 20 years and has been teaching for 12. She began teaching pregnancy yoga while pregnant with her first child 10 years ago and has developed her own dynamic fluid style. Now a mum of 2, she is also a trained Doula and Shiatsu practitioner, and has taught thousands of pregnant women including celebrities such as Cat Deeley and Rosamund Pike, guiding them through their pregnancies and births.
Shop Pregnancy yoga gear and maternity sportswear at Seraphine.
The exercises below are taken from her new DVD ‘Pregnancy Yoga with Tara Lee’.
1) Child’s Pose
Relieves tension in the neck and lower back, and helps to ease anxiety.
This classic pose is a masterful one to use during pregnancy. It eases the pressure of the baby on your pelvis and back, stretches the muscles along your spine and releases tension in the neck and shoulders – thereby helping to relieve tension headaches. As one of the few forward bends that feels comfortable and safe in pregnancy, it can be modified to suit most women. The intention here is to feel the broadening through the hips and lower back, gently stretching out and bringing relief to the muscles in your back.
From all fours with your knees as wide as you need to accommodate your baby, take the hips back to your heels and either reach the arms forward or make a pillow with the hands to rest the forehead on. Notice how this makes your back and hips feel. Notice the calming and soothing effect that being in this position has on your mind. Keep allowing the body to surrender towards the earth. Rest here for a few minutes, breathing deeply and slowly and imagine your body softening into the floor, releasing any tension.
You can come into child’s pose any time you are feeling stressed, anxious or if you have a tension headache. Use this position during labour if it feels comfortable when you need to rest. It will also be helpful for allowing your baby space to move into a good position.
2) Legs up the Wall
Relieves heavy legs and swollen ankles, and helps with insomnia or stress.
*Only do this exercise if you are under 28 weeks pregnant and still comfortable lying on your back*
Sit to the side of the wall (use a cushion or bolster under your hips if it’s easier) and swing your legs carefully up the wall while lying on your back. Stay for a few minutes or for as long as feels comfortable. To lower back down, hug the knees towards you (wide enough to make space for your baby) and slowly roll over to your side. Stay here for 5-10 breaths and then come up from your side.
If you get pins and needles in your feet, come out of the pose and rest to one side for a while before coming back up. If you feel nauseous, also come out of the pose.
3) Downward Dog Alternative
Relieves back ache and stretches the hamstrings.
Towards the end of your pregnancy when Downward Dog feels too much, using the wall can be an excellent alternative. This pose is also great preparation for labour. It’s a great pose for if you’ve been sitting at a desk for too long and want to have a feeling of taking the weight of your baby off of your back. It can also be helpful for stretching out tight hamstrings.
Place your hands on a wall, shoulder width apart and walk back until you feel a comfortable stretch (making an upside down L shape with your body). Allow the body to soften as you feel the stretch through your back and down your hamstrings. Stay for 5 – 10 breaths. When you are ready, keep the knees bent as you walk back towards the wall slowly.
You can bend the knees and lengthen the tail bone back. Try swaying the hips from side to side to release tension in the pelvis.
If it feels uncomfortable place your hands a little higher up for a gentler stretch, and be sure to keep a bend in the knees.
Find out more at: www.taraleeyoga.com