Yoga for pregnant women

By on March 29, 2010
ISHTA, an acryonym for “Integrated Science of Hatha Tantra and Ayurveda”, was created in South Africa during the late 1960s by Yoga entrepreneur Alan Finger and his father Kavi Yogi Mani , and is now very popular in New York. 

“Yoga invites tranquility and stability into our lives by providing a powerful tool for coping with the physical and mental stress of busy Tokyo life,” says yoga teacher Kumiko Mack who was trained by Alan Finger.

“ISHTA means “personalized” or “individual” in Sanskrit and is the most flexible form of yoga practice,”  explains Kumiko.

‘It employs mental focus and keen observation of the body through “pranayama” or breathing, stretching, and alignment depending on the individual’s needs.’

Kumiko encourages mums, before and after delivery, to seek the benefits of ISHTA keeping in mind that the safest pregnancy term to do so would be after the twelfth week of pregnancy and around six weeks after giving birth.

(Caution: The situation varies according to the individual’s state of health. For safety purposes, seek the advice of a gynecologist )

Kumiko shows us some ISHTA self-help routines to help mums deal with pregnancy-related discomfort:

Gomukasana

Raise right arm up, bend elbow with palm facing down towards your back.  Bring left arm towards your lower back slowly aiming to reach the right hand at the center of the spine.  Aim to clasp both hands if possible.  For some with shorter or less flexible hands,  use a towel or strap for support.   This is an easy hand stretching routine for beginners.

Benefits: Relieves tension in the neck and shoulder area
Marjariasana (Cat Pose)

Inhale when bringing the chest forward, elbows slightly bent.

Exhale, draw lower belly in, gradually lifting your back outward to form an arch. Feel the gradual lifting motion of the vertebrae.

Benefits: Relieves back pain and enhances breathing.
Half-squat Pose

Stand with legs apart, toes pointing to the knee direction.   Bend knees without letting knees come over the toes.   Draw lower belly in, tail bone downward and bring weight into center.

Benefits: Stretches the inner thigh and groin, and tones pelvic muscles.
Supta Baddha Konasana (Restorative Pose)

Lie with back supported.  Spread legs apart, bend knees, bring both soles of the feet together.  A blanket may be used to cover the ankles as well as beneath the knees to keep them grounded; it also prevents them from not over stretching the inner thighs.  Relax arms to side, palms facing up.  Hold for 1-5 minutes.

Benefits: Relaxes the mind, illicits parasympathetic nervous system, enhances breathing, frees energy flow in the pelvic area, and stretches the inner thighs and groin.

 

Kumiko Mack is the owner of the Be Yoga school in Hiroo.  Be Yoga also offers teacher training courses in English and Japanese which include a curriculum in anatomy, physiology, ayurveda, philosophy, safe asana alignment, and teaching theory. For details: www.beyogajapan.com

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