This weekend I have been teaching hypnobirthing to a lady suffering with sciatica. This is when a spinal nerve is compressed in the lower back, causing pain in the back, hip and down the leg. It is a common ailment during pregnancy, and one that I suffered with terribly post pregnancy. When this lady mentioned to me the pain she was suffering, I instantly recommended pregnancy yoga. Cat stretches in particular are easy to do and have lots of benefits. This pose is a wonderful, calming stretch and suitable for all abilities and pregnancy stages. It strengthens and stretches the spine and neck, which is why it is so good for those suffering from sciatica.
The other benefits include improvement in balance and posture, increased co-ordination and massaging of the internal organs, especially the digestive system. During pregnancy it also has the added benefit of taking the weight of the baby off the hips and back, a welcome break if you are far into your pregnancy. This is also a moving meditation pose, where you can connect your breath with the movement of your body. By taking the mind elsewhere (to your breath) it is a great way to practice your hypnobirthing. The deep breaths are also a good way to calm yourself and boost your oxygen levels, very handy if you are in labour.
Yoga cat stretches for pregnancy
Now you know the benefits I’m sure that you are keen to know how to do this yoga pose! Start on your hands and knees, with your knees in line with your hips, and your hands in line with your shoulders. The fingers should be spread out to help take the weight off the wrists. The elbows should have a small micro-bend so that you are not locking the joint. Your spine and neck should be in a neutral position, with your eyes softly focused on the floor below.
As you inhale, raise your chin and head upwards so that you are looking towards the ceiling. At the same time tilt your tailbone and hips upwards so that your belly is pushed down towards the floor. Take a pause and enjoy the weightlessness of your belly.
Next, begin to exhale. Drop your chin to your chest and arch your back, you might feel a slight stretch across your shoulders. Take a pause and enjoy the stretch in your spine. Repeat these moves five more times. This moving meditation is useful if you only do it once, but it works best if you practice a little bit and often.
This is a great yoga pose for during and after pregnancy. However, as with all exercise, please consult your midwife before practicing. If you are unsure if this is a safe activity for you to do seek medical advice. If your pain from sciatica is extreme or prolonged please seek medical advice.
I practiced pregnancy yoga throughout my pregnancy. For me it was a brilliant way to keep active, practice relaxation and make friends. I attended Lianne Partington’s classes, Baby Mine Fitness in Dartford.