Prenatal/Postnatal, Yoga Tips & Tricks

Prenatal Yoga for Digestion

I went to a much needed workshop last weekend at Kula Yoga with Michelle. It was focused on relieving digestion issues during pregnancy. I couldn’t have come across a more perfectly timed workshop as this pregnancy has been particularly rough in the digestion department for me.

16 weeks of bloat!

16 weeks of bloat!

As with everything so far in this pregnancy, I’m getting hit by everything a lot sooner and harder than last time. The nausea’s been worse and lasted longer. And all the extra bloat has made me need maternity clothes much sooner than with my first. Thanks to relaxin, that lovely pregnancy hormone that relaxes all the muscles in the body, my digestive system has been especially sluggish.

While my stomach hasn’t quite gotten squished up under my ribs, it sure feels like everything’s re-arranged in there already. This is a fun interactive diagram to play with to see how all the organs get moved around to make room for the baby.

So this workshop focused a lot on creating space and encouraging movement to stimulate the digestive system. We did side stretches, forward folds, heart openers, hip circling in cat/cow, gentle upper body twists and many wonderful restorative poses.

I especially appreciated the upper body twists since most of the good spine-popping twists are off limits during pregnancy. The key is to keep the belly facing forward so the twist is felt in the upper back and shoulders. And since the stomach is getting pushed upwards due to the growing baby anyway, that’s exactly where you want the twisting to happen.

She showed us one really awesome restorative twist that involves a couple of bolsters. Using one bolster between the knees in a side-lying position, you drape your upper body over the second bolster with arms on either side and lying against your cheek. It is amazing. I actually try to sleep that way with all of the pillows I have at home because I’m tempted to lie down on my belly, but I know I can’t.

The side stretches were really nice too. I always forget about them (because all I want to do is a cross-body twist to ring out my organs!), but they help elongate the spine and encourage things to keep moving. I can get at least a couple good pops that way.

The workshop also reminded me of two things that I’ve heard from my midwife: peppermint and taking walks. Michelle brought some peppermint and lavendar in the form of essential oils to include some aromatherapy into our restorative poses. I opted for the peppermint (my sense of smell is sensitive to lavendar these days), and it was so cooling and relaxing for me. I’ve heard many times to drink peppermint tea to help settle digestion and cut through bloat. I made a note to buy some peppermint oil to use at home.

The other note I made was to go for walks after I eat. I have a bad habit of sitting at my desk or the couch at work ALL DAY. I don’t have the best posture either, so I’m asking for digestive issues by letting everything crunch up and sit in my system. I’m adding time to go for a 15 minute walk after I devour my lunch.

Thank you, Michelle, for this well-timed workshop!

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