Think about it: pregnant women are uncomfortable. They’re tired, they’re sore, they’re achy. Their movement is restricted and their sleep is fitful. Have you ever felt tired, sore, and achy at the end of the workday? Have you ever had trouble sleeping? Another huge complaint among pregnant women is low back pain. This can be because of the prominent arch that develops as the belly grows heavier. Non-pregnant people also feel low back pain when their posture is compromised—like from a weak core (stomach and back muscles), bad shoes, or a poor sitting posture. Pregnant women often experience wrist pain as their bodies swell with extra fluid. Non-pregnant people experience wrist pain from repetitive movements such as typing, mousing, and assembly work. The bottom line is that poses that feel good for mommies-to-be frequently play well in the general population too.
One pose perfect for pregnant people and those with stiff upper backs is puppy pose. It’s like a child’s pose but with the hips kept high above the heels. I use a version of this pose with the elbows on the floor fairly frequently in my classes. Start on hands and knees, with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Then place your elbows where your hands were and clasp your hands in front. Next, let your head hang heavily and imagine your spine funneling down between the shoulder blades toward the floor. This action gets the shoulders passively aiming backwards, opposite to the forward hunching posture many of us assume at our desks. Gently rocking side to side can also help loosen up the back, shoulders, and hips. This pose is also good for sore wrists because the elbows are bearing much of the weight.
From puppy pose, I often move to arm circles. Arm circles are a more active way of pulling the shoulders back, loosing up around range of motion, and opening the chest. Start with your right hand and right knee in a line, step your left foot straight out to the left. Inhale and swing your left arm up, begin to exhale as your pull your arm forward past your ear and down. Begin to inhale as you sweep your arm back and up, exhale forward and down, and so on about 5 times. Do both sides.
In pregnancy, we’re encouraged to respect and respond to our changing bodies and to be excited for new beginnings. Outside of pregnancy, shouldn’t we do the same every day?