This little routine was my best friend during both of my pregnancies. They’ve actually remained staples for whenever I feel stress in my lower back. Nowadays I am usually cooking dinner with at least one of my boys on my hip 🙂
I was involved in a bad car accident when I was living in New York. I got hit by a car while biking. Actually in the beginning my doctors were not sure I’d survive. After hours of scans and check-ups they told me that from the impact I received they were amazed at the shape my spine and body were in. I was recovering really fast. I told them I was a Pilates instructor and that I had been doing Pilates (the original true method by Romana’s Pilates) more or less every day for the past 5 years. They instructed me to never stop and I believe they all signed up for Pilates based upon their amazed reactions. There is good reasoning behind why more and more doctors are recommending Pilates to their patients. After the accident it took me many months of pre-Pilates routines and practicing small exercises to rebuild my body. I did this back then to soften my muscles and the breathing really helped to relieve the tension that was built up in my back. This was not strictly Pilates, it is a blend of Pilates, yoga and classical exercise many professional trainers and athletes do. But after a full day of teaching Pilates my back was sometimes very stressed and I started with this routine and each time I felt much better. Then during my pregnancies my back started acting up a bit again, so I started practicing my routine about 4 times a week to help relieve the tension. It is so important to make time to take care of our bodies, I might have ended up with some terrible physical problems if I had not taken such good care after what happened. So I hope I have inspired you to all help heal your problems if you have them. Or make your body strong to prevent them.
I asked my friend Manuela to join me for an hour or two to help me show you all the exercises. I thought it might be helpful to see it performed with a beautiful belly to understand each position and how to get into them. After our session she told me she felt more relaxed and her back definitely felt better. I would now love to take the opportunity to thank and congratulate her as she delivered her healthy baby boy a few months ago and is now rocking motherhood!
You start by sitting up tall and centered on a block or a rolled up blanket. Close your eyes, feel your body and take slow, deep breaths through your nostrils for a few minutes just to center yourself and focus only on you. Dedicate this moment to you.
Take your left arm up and reach it in order to find a good stretch on your left and keep on breathing deeply. Make sure your sit bones are grounded to the floor and gently pull your navel in and up towards your spine. If you are pregnant be gentle and just create a loving hugging feeling towards your baby, let your core muscle hug the baby in and up towards your center and keep breathing slowly through your nostrils. Then repeat on the other side you can do 4-6 sets on each side.
Lean forward and find your way to all force – which means on your hands and knees. Shoulders over wrists and hips over knees. Inhale and round your back pulling your navel in and up towards your spine, gently squeeze your seat (butt) and then exhale and open up your chest and shoulders and look up. Always have the feeling of your waist is getting longer without you lifting or raising your shoulders up.
Now find your way to lie on the floor with a little fold up towel or blanket under your head. Just make sure you are comfortable.
Have another towel by your side and place it on the middle of your foot, make sure your hips are even and square then press your hip bone forward to increase the stretch and flex your foot so the heel goes up towards the ceiling. Keep on taking deep breaths and relax your shoulders. Make sure to do both sides and if you have the time it id great to repeat a few times – each leg up to 4 sets.
Now look at the photo below and find your way into this position. Bend your right knee and place your left ankle on the right knee and grab the right thigh or knee and make small movements. Rock from side to side and you will soon feel how the circulation around your hip will start to flow – this is my absolute favorite. Make sure to keep your neck and shoulders relaxed and your waist nice and long. You can control how much stretch you get by how much you pull your leg towards you and push the opposite knee away from you. Remain here and take 10 deep breaths on each side and repeat as desired.
Then keep your leg position but lower the leg you hold on to towards the floor, then lean towards one direction and look the opposite way. You will experience a great stretch in your lower back, hips and even your chest and shoulders. Relax and breath deeply, switch sides a few times. I like to remain on each side for about 10 deep breaths and I do about 4 – 6 sets on each side depending on the time I have.
Then take a few breaths just lying on the floor with your legs bent – take few deep breaths here 2-6 and feel how much circulation you have in your lower back and hips before you move in to the next position. You can also let your knees relax together.
Now find your way slowly to “child-pose” meaning your big toes together and knees apart. Open your knees as much to fit your beautiful belly in-between your thighs. Walk your hands forward and let your forehead rest on the floor. If you are far into your pregnancy, have a big belly or are simply more comfortable then place a little towel under your forehead. Now really, really relax and just keep breathing deep long breaths. Place your mind inwards, calm down and make a connection towards your little baby 🙂
Finally, if you still have some time to relax even more and this right here is my all time favorite pregnancy pose! Place your feet up against the wall. This is great for swollen feet and tired legs as during pregnancy blood circulation flows much slower down towards your feet. This will leave you feeling energized and brand new beautiful pregnant mamma 🙂 I used to take mini naps like this when I was feeling tired. Oh, how I miss being pregnant.. it really is a wonderful time, at least for me it was.
If you have an extremely supportive partner or friend who is willing to pamper you during this time of rest have them give you a little head massage for deeper relaxation. I did this here for my sweet Manuela.
I started by gently pressing and massaging the area where her neck and head meet.
Next gently press her shoulders down where she can feel a great stretch over the chest area, keep this for a few deep breaths then take a little break and repeat about 3 times.