Simple Prenatal Yoga Sequence for Home Practice

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My cousin took this picture of me just a few days before I gave birth.

When I was pregnant with my son, my daily yoga and seated meditation practice changed dramatically. I allowed my practice to become increasingly informed by preparing my body and mind for birth, with sound and movement becoming important elements. I researched what was appropriate, in both books and media, as well as my own body. My birth experience was both ecstatic and deeply empowering, in part because of factors beyond my influence, but also because I had a firm foundation in how to consciously relax and create feeling safe, how to channel and move through intensity rather than resist it, how to observe sensation rather than react, and how to trust my body: it’s movements, positions, and ultimately, it’s animalistic wisdom.

In over a decade of teaching and learning about prenatal yoga since, I have continued to deepen my appreciation of how yoga practice can nourish, stabilize, and calm pregnant moms, while at the same time familiarize the inner systems of the body-mind complex for birth, bonding, and postpartum radiance. Prenatal yoga also helps establish optimal birth position, (‘occiput anterior’ or head down, back forward) a key factor in avoiding interventions during birth. Pregnancy is a great time to deepen our relationship with the pelvic floor, our breath, our boundaries, and awaken dormant power. Truly, I see the journey of motherhood as a nobel path, one of spiritual growth.

Here is a simple sequence for home practice. This is a sequence I put together for my friend Camella, an instructor at an advanced doula training, based on poses I often teach in my prenatal classes. It can be adapted as needed. (Email me if you are befuddled, at averyasana@gmail.com.) This type of practice is also great for fertility. Be sure you have enough padding under the knees. These poses offer various reliving and stabilizing qualities, and also translate well into labor poses. You can ad in your own favorite poses to the mix, as you desire. Good poses to add in include Upavishta Konasana (seated with the legs wide) and external rotation standing poses such as triangle and warrior 2. Avoid any yoga poses that compress or put pressure on the uterus, such as deep forward bends and deep abdominal twists, and especially avoid abdominal toning, as the can cause diastisis. Also avoid intense stretches, since your body has relaxin and it’s easy to create injury without realizing.

I’ve written this up to share with my students, and for the use of the greater community of pregnant moms. If you wish to use my text or pictures in any other context I request in good faith that you please ask permission first.

A little home practice in the morning, before plunging in to the responsibilities of the external world, or before bed, to assist healthy circulation and better sleep, can be really effective self care.

The Practice

(Dedicated to my dear BFF Liv in New Zealand)

Begin with breath. Keep returning to the breath. Keep exploring, what can I let go of, what can soften and relax, so that the breath can more easily move though me, and I can more effortlessly and completely receive the healing nourishment of the breath…?

Rolling up a blanket for supporting the sacrum in badha konasana. The blanket should be firmly wedged between the wall and your upper sacrum/L5 area.

1. Get centered in Badha Konasana 

(Bound Angle Pose)

You’ll need a bit of open wall space and a few blankets to practice this version.
First, have a thin rolled blanket. If your hips are tight (knees higher than pelvic rim when in the pose) take a second blanket under the sitting bones.
An option to make the pose more passive: support under each leg with a blanket.

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If you need to release and stretch the pelvic floor, try this set up with rolled blankets under the knees. To increase lateral space in the pelvis and lengthen the inner thighs, add a block between the feet.

Press your heels together, draw the sitting bones wide and back with your hands, as you reach the tailbone under the blanket, then press blanket down behind sacrum. If the blanket goes easily to the floor, start again, so the blankets is wedged quite firmly behind the sacrum (back of the pelvis/ base of the spine). This will give a healthy anterior tilt, with the sitting bones heavy at the front.
4 good reasons for this pelvic position:

(try it when you drive or sit to type, not just in yoga practice!!)
1. Sacrum is most stable when at an angle, it fits down into the pelvis, which closes/stabalizes the SI joints, which can be good for reliving SI joint pain and sciatica.
2. Pubic bone draw under, giving bony support for pelvic floor muscles and pelvic organs, so they can relax and avoid compression/ tension patterns.
3. Supports healthy space in intervertebral discs, relives low back strain. If the back is flat, there is compression in the spine. The back has the most length when it expresses it’s natural curves; the neutral lower lumber region should curve in, as though in a mild backbend.
4. Supports OBP by showing baby the space is in the front body, not the back.
First, just relax: soften eyes, jaw, tongue…notice your breath, move from mind to body, external to internal. Practice coming very gently back to the breath, even though the mind will distract. Over and over, you come back to the breath, back inside to the present moment, just breathing through the sensations, whether they are mild or intense. Especially allow the throat to release. (Low long sound is very useful for relaxing the throat; try a long Ahhhhhhh sound.) The throat and birth canal area affect each other; if the throat and jaw are soft, you’ll soften down below, too.

Take a moment to connect with your baby: feel how they are held safe inside, every cell in their strong healthy body glowing with vitality, their heartbeat steady. Feel the psychological, emotional connection between you and your baby, which is growing stronger day by day, and remains strong long after the physical chord is cut. Sense that you are your baby are working together, each doing your own special work to prepare for birth and beyond.

Then, perhaps explore some pelvic floor awareness. Feel the inner pelvis, use imagination… watch for self criticism… come back to feeling, breathing. Sense the large round opening of the inner pelvis… feel the bony attachment point of the lower 2 levels of pelvic floor: sitting bones on sides, tailbone in back, pubic bone in front. They make a diamond… Inhaling, receive the natural downward expansion of the breath, pressure releasing down, blossoming, broadening. Then exhaling, on the natural cycle of inter abdominal pressure lifting, draw the 4 corners in, towards perinuem, lift… then relax, receive… several rounds with the breath. Soft tongue, soft eyes, soft breath.

332. Hands and Knees explorations:

Hands and Knees is a great labor pose too, in fact one study showed it to be the #1 position for giving birth in a group of moms who were not told what position to birth in. The baby had lots of room, the inner pelvis can rest, the bones of the pelvis can all expand, unlike when you are laying in a bed.

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You can support yourself in labor by resting the head, arms, and chest forward on a soft sturdy support, such as a bed. When the hands are on the floor, be sure to keep the base of the tigers heavy, wrists light. This is also a wonderful pose for encouraging optimal birth position.

~Hip circles, Figure 8s, Tail Wagging

~Cat/ Cow: Notice how in flexion, as you open the back body and tuck the tail, the upper pelvis opens, and the bottom closes, then when you extend in the backbend, the bottom of the pelvis opens wide.

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These movements are great for helping the sacrum move so that baby’s head can pass through in labor.

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First, cross…

~Twist: Explore this pose with an audible exhale into the twist, repeat 2-4 times each side.

Remember, lengthening the exhale helps the nervous system/ mind to relax! Ahhhhh. This is a nice safe way to rotate the spine within compressing baby’s space.

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…then rotate, extending our through the core of the arms.

3. Side Lunge Series: This is a whole sequence of nourishing movements that link together….

a. Kneeling, right leg out, lunge back and forth, sitting deep into the right sitting bone as you track the knee towards the middle toe. The right leg externally rotates, heel beyond knee, heavy heel. Rock balk and forth…26
This action opens the right side inner pelvis, and can be 27done on a birth ball, with the upper body and head resting on a bed, or high couch, for a more supported version in labor.

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b. Parigasana/ The Gate Pose, variation:

24Elbow to knee: stay in your lunge, reach left arm over at a diagonal, stretch.
This help open lateral spine and increase ease of side body breath, making more room for the digestive organs and growing baby.

c. Circle the extended arm, slow… reach fully through shoulder, through the fingers; increase circulation to mammary glands.

d. Arms down, and with the support of the ground…23

22…side lunge again, with SOUND:

Ahhhh into the stretch

Sound: Looooong and Low:
-Helps open throat and therefore opens birth canal
-Releases pleasureful endorphins, some which are the same as released in orgasm
-Extends the exhalation, which quiets the nervous system, relaxes the mind
-Gives the mind something to focus on

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1 (1)e. Pelvic Floor Stretch: A gem from Leslie Howard! Bring your right heel outside wrist, and keep that inner heel heavy, as you circle the sitting bone out and around, as if you have a spoon attached to the sits bones and you are stirring a big bowl of cookie dough behind you.

Or, in you favorite color, paint some huge bold circles on the floor, walk, and ceiling with you sitting bone paintbrush!

This is a fabulous stretch for the transverse perineal muscles, the layer of the pelvic floor that connect the perineum to the sits bones.

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f. High lunge: Bring your heel onto your mat, directly under knee, and extend the back leg as you internally rotate that femur, or thigh bone, lifting through the inner groin. Let the outer thighs and buttocks draw in towards the midline, containing. Lift the right toes as you anchor the center heel down to awaken strength and tone the arch. Hold this high lunge 30+ seconds: breathe through the work, practice soft throat, soft eyes…

g. Anjenayasana/ Low lunge: Keep your front heel on the floor. The back leg points, strong, press the top of the foot down as you lengthen and open the groin. Don’t let the knee lean out; bring whole leg

19out to side to make room for that lovely belly.

h. Lateral Release: Swing leg back to the right side, flex foot, walk hands out to left, wrist beyond shoulder, open right hip over left, right shoulder over, drape and extend arm… open side body.

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Back to HANDS AND KNEES, hip circle, observe if hips feel better, then take a down dog, or rest in child’s pose.

Then REPEAT on the LEFT side>>>> yummy!

4. Adho Mukha Svanasana, Downward Facing Dog Pose, 17with bent knees, or Adho Mukha Virasana, Downward Facing Hero Pose.

After the asymmetrical work in the luge series, it’s helpful to take several breaths in one of these poses, to lengthen the spine, integrate the work from the lunges, and come back to center. I usually opt for the knees bent downward dog version for pregnant moms, because if the backs of the legs are tight (and often they are!) the pelvis will tuck, the low back will flatten and compress, and the inner pelvis will get jammed. Focus on the lift and broadening of the sitting bones, and the length of the spine as you equally and deliberately extend the arms, and press down the ball mounds of the index fingers (the inner upper corner of the palm of each hand). If this pose is too taxing or you want to avoid it for any other reason, you can do the same good work with the knees down.

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5. Squat— explore different variations: take height under heels if the lower legs are tight and/or the feet pronate (where the inner ankles collapse in). Try squatting while leaning against a wall, or resting the head and stacked hands on support in front of you, such as a padded chair, or a birth ball.

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Squatting is a great way to amplify the downward pressure and effectiveness of contractions during labor; you can squat with support, such as on a toilet seat, a small birth ball, or leaning forward resting the chest, arms, and head on a soft chair or bed.

If you are 32 weeks or beyond, and baby is NOT in the optimal birth position (back forward, head down) better to spend time in hands and knees instead; squatting brings the baby down low into the pelvis, where it’s harder for them to turn around.

136. Utkata Konasana: Goddess/ AKA Horse pose on chair: Make sure the knees are open about 90 degrees. See that the joints of the legs line up, hip-knee-ankle-toes all pointing in the same direction; watch for feet that want to turn out more than the hips and knees.

Let your sitting bones become at the front, feel the anterior tilt: your sacrum will draw into the body as your lower back comes into a healthy arch. Careful to not push the ribcage forward as you arch; let the lowest lumbar vertebrae be the deepest part of the curve, not your upper lumbar. Then, powerfully externally rotate the thighs: extend the inner thighs from the pubis out through the knees, as you draw the outer thighs in towards the buttocks. Spiral and thighs open as you press strongly down through the heel bones, and draw inner thighs away from back of chair121011

Once you get the feel of it on the chair, try it at the wall, with the sacrum and upper back and head resting on the wall and the heels and knees about a foot away from the wall: same work, but even more stabilizing.
You can also do shoulder openers, or work the upper body as in parsvakonasana during the chair supported version.
This pose is fabulous for sacral stability. As the sacrum draws forward, the SI joints are supported my the muscular work in the thighs to close. I experienced terrible sciatica (pain caused by compression to the sciatic nerve) and SI joint pain during pregnancy, due to the relaxin opening and destabilizing what was already loose to begin with. This pose helped immediately and immensely to resolve my pain. It also builds the strength required for active labor.

87. Prasarita Padotonasana: Expanded Legs Forward Bend: To practice this pose, the feet are parallel, heels separated about as wide as the wrists when the arms are extended out the side. The sitting bones lift and broaden, the pelvis rotates forward around the thigh bones, so the front spine can extend. Keep the heels heavy, reaching the tailbone back behind the heels, as you lengthen forward through the spine, crown of the head, and arms. Take enough height so that the front body is spacious.  As you forward bend on the chair: push chair forward, draw tail back… HEELS HEAVY. You can stretch the mat wider between the feet isolmetraically to broaden the inner pelvis and stretch the pelvic floor, or press the outer legs in medially, as though you would slide the legs towards each other, to help draw the sacrum in, and stabilize. If you are familiar with both actions, do both at once!

A good way to use this pose for relieving low back pain, try practicing it on a kitchen counter throughout the day.

This can be a great labor pose when leaning the upper body (chest, arms, and head) forward onto a high bed or soft padded counter. As a yoga pose it helps strengthen the legs and increases circulation to the reproductive organs, while also lengthening and releasing the lower back.

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8. Balasana, or lovingly known as Child’s Pose:

This is a great pose to do before bedtime, or whenever you need a restful moment, as it helps increase circulation to the adrenal glands, which helps shift the nervous system away from the fight-flight stress mode, and into the replenishing parasympathetic mode. It is a wonderful release for the low back, and, with enough support, can be a great labor pose. For most moms, 2 bolsters stacked are a lot better than one! Make sure the head and chest are supported, while the belly is free to rest in the open space between the thighs. If sitting on the heels is not comfortable, fill in the space with folded blankets, and or have a block between the ankles as in virsana. Let the back body open and relieve the breath as you inhale, while the exhalations resolve the weight of the head down.

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9. Savasana. A very important pose, don’t skip it! Use a 10 minute timer if you have trouble staying for more than a couple minutes.

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Savasana (corpse pose or final resting pose), is an important time to integrate the benefits of the more active poses. The nervous system can digest the goodness. This is a great time to do a guided relaxation, a chance to train the mind to be present with the feeling of letting go, consciously, rather than reacting blindly to, or resisting, sensation. The more the nervous system experiences relaxation, the stronger and more familiar the neuroreceptor connections are that create that experience. So practice establishes calm and relaxation, makes it more accessible for the future. Relaxation and feeling safe are key factors in the healthy release of hormones and endorphins in labor, and helps mom stay present, centered, and not overwhelmed by the intensity of contractions.

As you rest, notice how easily the mind wanders, and how gently you can come back to the feeling of the exhalations and letting go… The mind may criticize “you,” or itself when wandering, but just come back to the feeling of softening, melting… feeling over time how all the layers of the body become more fluid, heavy, spreading out into the safe embrace of the earth. The bones rest very deep. Trust gravity to hold you. Especially the head becomes heavy. All the layers of the neck release, the inner jaw softening, the eyes resting inwards, as the all the layers of the brain melt down very heavy into that support. Every breath, letting go, letting go.

Come out restfully.

You can close your session with a meditation, sitting in any comfy seated pose, breathing love down to the baby, which my teacher’s guru, Sri Goswami Kriyananda says plants seeds of happiness in the babies consciousness that blossom later throughout the babies life. Place the left hand on the heart, right hand on the belly. Inhaling, expand you heart with pure love; exhaling, send that loving energy down through the warmth of your right hand, to you rewet baby, who has come at just the right time, choose just the right mother, the right family for there unique journey. Bathe your baby in pure loving attention, compassion, affection, and appreciation. Perhaps sense that as you help your baby grow, this baby is helping you grow: deeper into your strength, your wisdom, your power and beauty… you capacity for joy. You can then let this love surround your whole self, too…in a cloak of protection and peace.

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For Albuquerque Pregnant Moms, here is a great coupon for Prenatal Yoga at High Desert Yoga; my class is on Thursdays, perhaps I’ll see you there!

prenatal yoga coupon 2015

Femur Grounding: Understanding More About This Key to Stability.

Organizing the femur in the hip socket is foundational to nearly every other action we explore in our yoga practice. Similar to “quieting the mind,” femur grounding is not an action we do, and then it is done, rather it is like a search for a holy grail in that it is a

normal_hipmoment to moment awareness, a sense that develops over time, and that is key to shifting other patterns in the body, nervous system, and mind. The term and concept of “grounding the femur” was taught to me by my primary teacher, Kim Schwartz, who learned it from Ramanand Patel, a student of BKS Iyengar.

I hope you develop awareness of this experiment in hip stability and take it into you day, when you drive, stand in line at the bank, and sit at your workspace.  As you play with getting grounded as you move through your life, you will shift away from the habitual/ familiar and into a more free, deliberate, healthy and capable way of being in your body. The ability to experience the following list of actions and releases depend on the femur being grounded.  Finding this action alone will not create all the results on this list, such as inner body length, but it is an essential component for these experiences to be successfully explored.

Some Benefits of “Grounding the Femur”

-Ability to relax the inner organs. When the inner organs hold habitual tension, the breath is inhibited and circulation through the vital systems decrease. As the visceral body relaxes both circulation and breath become more full, healthy, and effective. 

-The illio psoas can lengthen, which is key to releasing the kidney area and finding balance in the nervous system. If the psoas is tight, this can “pull” on the kidney area, creating restriction and over-stimulating the adrenal glands. 

-The neutral curves of the spine are supported. 

-The angle of the pelvis allows sacrum to sit in a stable position.

-The ligaments in the groin area are protected from being over stretched. 

-The femoral artery, which delivers blood to the lower body, has space; this artery is compressed when the femurs push forward, hardening the groins. Because of this, restless leg syndrome, and issues with numbness and circulation can be assisted by femur grounding.

 -The sciatic nerve has healthy support and is not compressed. If the femurs are pushed forward, the sacrum is often destabilized,  so the periformis tends to grip up in compensation, compressing the sciatic nerve, (one cause of sciatica) which can be painful. 

 –The knees are protected from hyperextension, if the knees tend towards this pattern which is damaging for the knee joint over time. 

-The bones of the legs transfer weight to the earth effectively, minimizing strain on the joints of the lower body. Femur grounding also helps allow the bones, which are constantly regenerating and reforming themselves, to develop in a healthy, thick, strong form.

-Healthy weight distribution in the feet become possible, allowing the heels to bear the weight of the body so that the metatarsals in the feet can broaden and the toes can spread wide, helping avoid or diminish bunions and other issues in the feet. 

-The lower body is stable so that the spine, shoulders, and neck, and head position can also become grounded, spacious, and at ease. 

-Inner body length is possible, which creates groin length, decompresses the intervertebral discs, and allows for subtler yogic techniques to be performed effectively, such as the 3 bandhas (energy locks, or valves) and pranayama (regulation of the breath)

-Access to good organization, pelvic floor strength, and the lift out of gravity required for active inversions like sarvangasnana (“no limbs pose,” or shoulder stand) and sirasasana (headstand) and more complex asanas, such as large backbends like urdva danurasansa (upward bow pose).

-We feel supported and centered in the body, which allows us to be more focused, aware, calm, grounded, and available, emotionally and psychologically. 

(This list reflects my personal experience and learning, and is not intended as medical advice or treatment. Yoga can be a wonderful compliment to allopathic treatment but if you suffer from a medical condition please consult your doctor.)

   Helpful Definitions &Terms:

 Femur: The thigh bone. Femur Grounding: The action of drawing the inner head of the femur into the center back of the hip socket. To find an example of this feeling in your own body, stand in tadasana, and hold a yoga block between the upper thighs. Make sure the joints of the legs are parallel. Pull the block back between the thighs, like you are trying to push it back towards the wall behind you. Notice if the knees are trying to do this action,

BKS Iyengar's tadasana

BKS Iyengar’s tadasana

and resist the calves forward into the shins as you move the inner head of the femur back. This will deepen the groins, align the leg bones over the center of the heels, and increase lumbar lordosis. Now for the other half of the equation: without pushing the block forward, SQUEEZE the block, like you are trying to crush it. This action should engage the upper thighs, bottom buttocks, and the space between the sitting bones, the lateral pelvic floor. Notice how these combined actions create a strong base from which the spine can rise up out of, particularly in the kidney area. Use this as a reference point for the action in the legs in tadasana, as well as many other poses. 

Ligaments: Strong, fibrous connective tissues that connect bone to bone. Unlike muscles that engage and release, ligaments should not be stretched out, since they will not “go back.”  The ligaments that connect to the head of the femur include the iliofemoral ligaments, which limit hyperextension and lateral/ external rotation, the pubofemoral Joints-and-Ligaments5ligament which limits extension and abduction, and the ischiofemoral ligament which limits extension and medial/ internal rotation. The deeper we can organize the femur on the socket, the more these ligaments can do their job of holding this deeply stable joint in place while supporting healthy range of motion. If the organization is compromised, for instance when flexibility without alignment is forced upon the body, these ligaments become over-lengthened, which strains them and makes their job harder, resulting in various individualized patterns of muscular tightening throughout the hips, including sometimes, in the muscles of the pelvic floor, which can alter the symmetry and stability of the pelvic girdle. We want to protect the ligaments from getting stretched so that they can do their job of binding the inner head of the femur into that perfectly formed acetabulum, or, inner surface of the hip socket. When they are safe, healthy muscular and joint mobility will increase in a more healthy, effective manner.

Groin Depth: Occurs from the femur moving back in the hip socket. Untucking the sitting bones or bringing the pelvis into an anterior tilt doesn’t on it’s own create groin depth, but it is the first step in creating space for groin depth to happen.

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Emily assisting me in a very grounding version of supta hasta padangustasana. Notice how the femur is becoming more grounded in 2 dimensions, both from the belt creating groin length, and our combined work (her pressing down and my leg bones extending up) is creating groin depth.

Groin Length: Occurs because of inner body length. Whereas groin depth is more in the plane of front-to-back, groin length refers to length along the vertical axis. We want both groin length and groin depth, though depth precedes length. Sometimes this action can be sensed as vertical “spaciousness” in the hip joint, where the head of the femur is no longer grinding against the top of the acetabulum. This action is important, when we consider that often when a hip replacement takes place the head of the femur as well as the top frontal region of the acetabulum have to be rebuilt. This inner body length includes length in the kidney area and the lift of the inner walls of the rib cage and sternum. Groin length relates to udyiana, or the 2nd bandha, which translates as “flying up.”

Lateral Femur Grounding: Once groin depth and length have been established, then containing the outer head of the femur, or greater trochanter, in medially (towards the midline) is an important dimension to explore. Especially if you stand with one hip pushed out the the side, possibly with a toddler sitting on top, you may be able to get a sense of the strain this can put on the hip joint. In standing poses, watch for the front leg, does the hip want to “lean out” beyond where the ankle and knee are? Strong thighs and bottom buttocks help to create containment here, so that the tension of compensating muscles groups can release, supporting healthy range of motion and stability.

Adduction: Moves the leg medially, in towards the midline of the body.

Abduction: Moves the leg away from the body. The leg can abduct or adduct either in neutral, external, or internal rotation.

Flexion: In the spine, flexion means the back of the spine is longer than the front, as in a forward bend. In hip flexion, imagine a tiny spine in the front of your hip joint: the front of the hip joint is very deeply folded. During poses with deep hip flexion, inner body length/ groin length is important.

Extension: In the spine, this means the front spine is longer or more open than the back spine, like in a backbend. When we say hip extension, the groin area is lengthening and opening wide. In poses which require this action femur grounding is very important to support the length of the spine.

Neutral Spine: The spine is healthiest and has the most length when it has a curvaceous shape. There are 4 parts of the spine: The cervical (neck), thoracic (where the ribs connect), lumbar (lower spine) and the sacral (5 or so fused vertebrae which comprise the sacrum, and the coccyx at the very bottom). The cervical and lumbar regions curvespine_anatomy inward, in extension, and the thoracic and sacral areas curve outwards, or in flexion. So, the intervertebral discs have the most space when they are in their curved shape. The amount of curve depends on everyones unique spine. Ideally, we want to cultivate the deepest lumber extension at the base of the L4 L5, (NOT the kidney area which is more common for most folks) and the deepest thoracic flexion at the mid thoracic region, around T6. The curve of the lumbar echos the curve of the cervical: we want T1 deep, and L5 deep. When one is out, the other most likely is compromised. For many bodies, checking to see if L4/L5 area is in is a good sign that the femurs are back in the hip sockets.

2608_Kidney_Position_in_AbdomenKidney Area: Describes the physical and energetic area around the T12-L1 juncture, where the fist-sized kidneys are located, tucked up under the back of the lower ribs. Energetically, this area corresponds to manipura chakra, which mean “city of jewels,” and relates to fire, passion, and willpower, and when tight, can create feelings of force, anger, or aggression, leading to fatigue. Kidney gripping relates to over stimulated adrenal glands, as the adrenals are located as thought “sitting” on top of the kidneys.

Asana: A stable, comfortable posture.

Ayurvedic terms: Dosha: in Ayurvedic medicine, one of the three biological humors or energies (kapha, pitta, vata) which combine in various proportions to determine individual constitution and mental and physical disorders. We can look at many things in terms of the 3 doshas: Body types, weather, areas on the planet, foods, types of yoga practice. In sanskrit: “fault, disease.” Vata: Relates to air/ ether, movement, change. People with high vata are irregular and erratic, with appetite and sexual desire varying between extremes. They sleep lightly, are easily disturbed and prone to insomnia. Their speech and movement is usually fast, and they are talkative and enjoy all forms of communication. Their pulse is fast, weak and irregular. They dislike cold, windy or dry environments and feel chilled quickly or shiver easily. Extremities (hands and feet) are often cold, or become cold easily.  Mentally and emotionally they are rapid. They gather information or display emotions quickly, or determine swiftly whether they like or dislike something. While they learn quickly and are usually intellectual, their retention is poor. Money is spent quickly and impulsively. They demonstrate high creativity, innovation and sensitivity. In excess, vata can show up as anxiety, feeling scattered, overwhelmed, spread too thin, indecision, rushing around while exhausted, accidents due to multitasking, exhaustion, constipation… ultimately feeling ungrounded. Poses and practices which ground the femur are very effective for quieting vata, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. I regularly teach an afternoon worlshop on femur grounding. Please see my current listings under the classes and workshops section to view my upcoming classes.

Benefits of Prenatal Partner Yoga and a Special Opportunity to Explore It!

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Prenatal Yoga is one of the most effective, safe, and enjoyable ways to increase comfort during pregnancy and prepare for an empowered birth. Partner Yoga offers a uniquely nurturing way to experience deeper awareness, strength, stability, and release. These two practices combine gracefully and can help to ease discomfort during pregnancy and prepare both mom and partner for birth.

Some Benefits of Partner Yoga as Birth Preparation:

~Increase body awareness, and the ability to breathe through the moment.

~Helps increase confidence in birth partners and their ability to support the birthing Mom.

~Partner assists allow for deeper release and organization in yoga poses, allowing for more effective relief from common issues that arise in the pregnant body, such as back pain, sciatica, leg cramps, leg swelling, acid reflux, exhaustion, stiff muscles, and/or insomnia.

~Explores touch as a gateway for the focus to move away from the mind (where fear resides) and into embodied presence.

~Releases Oxytocin, which assists in shifting out of fight/flight mode and into the parasympathetic mode, thus increasing feelings of safety, relaxation, pleasure, and connection. This shift is essential for labor hormones to be released and allow for the deepening intensity of contractions to build. Oxytocin is released in large amounts after distension of the cervix and uterus during labor, facilitating birthmaternal bonding, and, after birth, stimulation of the nipples, and lactation.

~Brings awareness to multiple areas of the body at once, helping to diffuse mental tension and refresh the nervous system.

~Allows for increased attention, insight, compassion, and gentle encouragement from the helping partner, which often allows the person performing the asana to feel safe to go deeper, gain new understanding on their alignment, or be able to experience subtle but key actions in the pose.

~Creates a fun, expressive experience of unity and trust between partners, and creates a nurturing time and space to connect with your new baby!

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Want to learn more? Join Emily and Avery for an upcoming Prenatal Partner Yoga Workshop Sunday, Feb 23, 2-5 pm at High Desert Yoga in Nob Hill, Albuquerque NM.  Both mom and partner will experience all poses, so that both can benefit from -and enjoy- dynamic active poses followed by gentle restorative poses. The workshop will include guided partner relaxation, focused connection with each other and your sweet baby, and experiential education about anatomy, the breath, and techniques you can use together to ease labor. Experience the healing, relaxing power of touch. Open to moms and any birth partner – husbands, dads, doulas, midwives, sisters, wives, etc. A great way to honor your journey together! Also open to birth professionals, yoga teachers, and yoga teacher trainees, who are looking for more hands on experience with safe techniques and assisted poses from pregnant moms. 

Register at High Desert Yoga.

PRENATAL partner yoga flier 2:14

Free Prenatal Class for New Students to High Desert Yoga

prenatal flier

Feel free print this coupon, share it, and bring it in to High Desert Yoga for a free prenatal class with Avery. This is a great opportunity for pregnant mothers to get an experiential taste of the benefits of prenatal yoga both for comfort during pregnancy, and as embodied birth preparation. In addition, the evolving  community of pregnant women in these classes creates a wonderful support network. This special offer is ongoing through the entire year of 2013. Join us!