I wrote this post during my last month of pregnancy and forgot that I never published it. Because of this, there are some references to my pregnancy that I am choosing not to remove. Although it was written during my pregnancy, everything I wrote is still true.
The last few weeks of my pregnancy I have been taking it easy at the gym for multiple reasons (time being the biggest reason). However, after missing an entire week at the gym (due to family visiting and work related items), I was more than ready for my hour of power yoga. Before class, I started thinking about all my favorite poses. I thought it might be fun to go through my top poses and why I love them so much.
You may click on any of the pose names to get a step-by-step guide to properly execute them.
Downward Dog – This is a great way to open up my shoulders and hips before moving into more complicated poses. When I first started yoga a few years ago, I thought this was one of the hardest positions ever. Now, I welcome this position as a way to come back to my breath and re-center after a tough sequence.
Chataranga – This pose took me forever to learn. I simply didn’t have the strength to lower down and hold my body elevated for an extended period of time. I would make it to a certain point and then just collapse. It wasn’t until I started going to my current instructor that I was able to do this pose. He simply said to try it on my knees to build up strength and then gradually I would become strong enough to do the full version. Why didn’t I think of that before? So, the next few classes I took my knees and before I knew it, I had no problem at all holding this pose. It is one of my favorites because it reminds me that I do have the strength within me to do things I thought I couldn’t. Now, every time I try a new pose I just remind myself that I should be patient with myself and it will eventually happen.
Crow – This is one of those poses that I think people get intimidated by. It is also a pose that immediately comes to mind when I think about fun yoga poses. Once again, it took me a little while before I even attempted to do crow. Why? Well, I thought I didn’t have the strength to hold my body up like that. Don’t get me wrong, I feel like I am a very strong woman and never ever call myself weak. I just thought I was being realistic and didn’t want to fall on my face and embarrass hurt myself. Then, one day the instructor (same one as above who I absolutely love and will probably cry when I have to move away from him) came to me and said that the pose was all about balance and not strength. I thought to myself “how could it not be about strength.” Then, instead of trying to explain to me how it was considered an arm balance, he insisted that I at least try. He walked me through the setup and demonstrated a few times before he told me to give it a try. “You are only about 6 inches from the ground. I promise you won’t get hurt if you fall.” So I decided to give it a go. To my surprise, I was able to do it on the first try without a problem. I didn’t even fall on my face. As I came out of it (feeling super accomplished) the first thing I said was how it really was about balance. This pose is a favorite because it reminds me to always try everything before just ruling it out. Not to mention it is really fun and looks super awesome.
Shoulder stand – This is my absolute favorite yoga pose and has been since the first time I tried it. It is considered an inversion so unfortunately I haven’t been able to partake in it the last few months of pregnancy. (Note: Please do not take this as advice on what to do while pregnant. Every pregnancy is different and for me, shoulder stand was not an option in the latter months. For others, it may be a daily position until they give birth. Please listen to your body and your practitioner.) It continues to be a favorite of mine because every time I do it, I get a sense of calm energy. Maybe it’s the blood rushing to my head or maybe it is just looking at things from a different perspective, literally. Either way, I always have a sense of calm come over me during this pose that is accompanied by self-awareness. I love the feeling my body gets during this pose because it is completely activated yet relaxed at the same time. I also love the feeling I get when I come out of it slowly. It is as if all the tension from the previous poses has been released and my body can fully relax.
Triangle – Maybe this is a bit of an odd one to have as a favorite, but I truly enjoy coming to this pose throughout my practice. It gives me the feeling of openness in my hips and chest and reminds me to come back to my breath. I also think this is just a very beautiful pose if done correctly.
Camel – This has become one of my go-to pregnancy poses due to my inability to do full backbend. This pose allows me to get the same benefits of a backbend without the overextension of the spine or the added pressure on my hips, ankles and wrists. I also love the added benefit of strengthening my core and thigh muscles without any extra work. It is a great multi-benefit pose that I continue to go back to multiple times during my practice when I need to counter balance my forward folds.
Bridge (supported) – Although I have supported in parenthesis, I love every form of bridge (full, one-legged, supported). Like I mentioned above, I like to balance my forward folds with some form of backbend. I find bridge to be a great gentle backbend that gets the job done. It is also a great leg strengthener and surprisingly takes a lot of control. For example, I have to actively make sure I am not tightening my glutes or tensing my jaw.
Savasana (Corpse Pose) – I don’t really think this one needs any explanation. It is the best feeling in the world to be on your mat at the end of a tough practice and feel the tension melt away. After having worked many muscles in my body, it is amazing how I can feel complete relaxation while still being aware of myself and my surroundings. This pose is technically the most difficult yoga pose because it is all about being present and not just zoning out after working hard. I admit it is hard sometimes to not let my mind wander or to fall asleep but it is so important to the pose and that is one of the many reasons I love it.
These are just a few among many of my favorite yoga poses.
What are some of your favorite poses?