Poses · Prenatal · Props

Open Your Heart!

There is a lot of heart-opening to explore on the path to being a mama. This post, however, is about a different sort of heart-opening. This post is about your physical, tight, and tired pregnant body—particularly your upper back, shoulders, and neck. If you’re missing being prone (belly-down) and missing the feeling of heart-opening, chest-opening extension poses, then grab a bolster or two (couch cushions work) and build a little speed bump that will allow you to safely stretch and explore your upper body.

Lauren first showed me this in one of her prenatal classes, and I came back to this pose all through my pregnancy. It felt so good when I got tired of being on my side! It was also useful to know the few times I ventured into a regular yoga class. This gave me an alternative if the instructor cued any belly-on-the-ground poses.

Here’s what you do:

Place a bolster in the center of your mat, with the long side of the bolster parallel to the short edge of your mat. Position yourself above the bolster, and lower your pelvis onto the bolster, letting your belly float in front of it. (If your belly touches the ground, pause and get a second bolster to put on the first, so you’re up higher.) Reach your hands in front of you, and open your arms a little wider than shoulder distance. If this feels like a little too much for your low back, walk your hands farther away from your body or drop down to your elbows instead of your hands. Draw your shoulder blades onto your back, relaxing your shoulders down.

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Angela, in her second trimester, demos this supported heart-opening pose beautifully. In tonight’s prenatal class, women from 14 weeks to 39 (!) weeks practiced this pose. If you’re further along, stack up two bolsters to create more space for your belly.

If this first position feels best, stay there. You can also add movements: try lifting and lowering your head to get a neck stretch, explore bending and straightening your arms for some pregnant-mama push-ups, or drop your shoulders forward one at a time to get a bigger stretch for your upper back.

Most importantly of all, enjoy the experience of being in this relationship to gravity: belly-down. It may be a little while before you get there without a bolster!

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