Yoga for 2: Prenatal and Postnatal Artwork
Season 3 - Episode 5

Strong and Fluid Hips

50 min - Practice


Maria shares a slow and active practice designed for opening the hips and pelvis to offer relief for the low back and prepare the body for giving birth. We move through a series of modified Surya Namaksar (Sun Salutations), Vriksasana (Tree Pose), Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2), Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle), and Squats to help strengthen and stabilize the legs and hips. We close with seated postures for a nice quiet deep stretch.
What You'll Need: Mat, Square Bolster, Blanket


Read Full Transcript

(ocean waves crashing) Welcome, today's class is dedicated to opening up the hips and aligning the pelvis for hip opening. This is great work to do throughout pregnancy but specifically in the third trimester we really wanna start focusing on opening the hips as one way to start prepping for labor but also because so often with the weight of the belly they get tight and then what happens is we get a lot of low back pain. So some women have a more mobile sacrum so that's something you have to be careful of. We don't wanna overstretch especially since during pregnancy we naturally have an increase in the hormone relaxin which opens up the joints. So don't go extreme.

However, sitting in a little bit of discomfort intention and really breathing through that and sinking in and facing that can be a really helpful meditation and practice for labor prep and life. So when you're ready we'll get started. As always, go at your own pace and take any modifications needed. It would be a good idea to have a blanket and a bolster ready. We're actually gonna start sitting so start on a blanket.

If you don't typically use a blanket maybe start to use one now just so you can elevate the hips and we can really get the pelvis upright as opposed to tucked under and slouching. And maybe even slightly tilting the pelvis forward. And we'll just take a few deep breaths here in an easy seat sukhasana. And this may feel like a stress for some of us. And just sinking in, closing the eyes, starting to turn the gaze inward and settling on the sound of the breath.

And then we're just gonna walk the hands forward so that we can start to let the pelvis tilt forward again. Of course going as far as feels appropriate considering the size of your belly. If the belly's bigger you're probably gonna be more up here. If you're earlier on in pregnancy you can probably go down lower. But really tilting the pelvis forward and releasing any tension in the glutes, the hips, seeing if you can relax in that area and just following the sound of the breath.

And I like to close my eyes when I'm doing this kind of work so I can really drop my focus into the areas that I'm working on. In this case it's the hips so really just getting a sense, almost putting my brain in my hips and telling them to relax bringing consciousness there to that area. And then also focusing on the breath and noticing where in the body you might be tensing up which constricts the breath. So a lot of times it's through the muscles between the ribs, those are called the intercostals. Sometimes it's the diaphragm gets a little stuck and doesn't fully drop down.

That's the muscle at the bottom of the ribcage. So really letting that drop, letting the ribs expand so that the lungs are really, really expanding in all directions. And then we'll just back up out of this. Let's just switch the cross in the ankles and I like to do this with my toes more pointed but ankles crossed and the feet more flexed is fine as well, whatever feels more appropriate for you today. And then taking the hands forward so that you can tilt the pelvis forward and then relaxing into it and breathing.

If it feels appropriate to continue walking the hands forward go ahead and do so. But as you use the hands just try not to tense up in the shoulders. Sometimes when we reach a place that's a little tight we start to clench the shoulders, the jaw. So really pay attention to those two areas in particular and just again focus your mind on the jaw, the shoulders, the hips, the breath, continually guiding them to relax, surrender, release. And sometimes we'll find that if we can get the jaw to relax the hips will open a little more too.

Breathing, and then we'll come on up out of that and we'll just take the hands to the knees. We're just gonna do little circles. So kinda with the ribs but then also with the pelvis. So as we come forward the pelvis is gonna tilt forward then we'll circle to the right, tuck the pelvis under, then come over to the left. So we're getting some nice range of motion in the hips but we're also getting a little bit of opening through the spine and the chest.

We'll just do a few circling one direction and then we'll switch it in a moment to go into the other direction. Just easing into the hips slowly remembering to breathe and to continually relax, to start to observe any stress responses. Something feels too intense back off so that you can stay relaxed. There will not be a surrender if you're in fight or flight. So always staying in a place where you're calm, cool, collected and then let's go in the opposite direction.

And you may find one way when you circle one direction it's a little easier than the other. Or they may feel balanced. But really just tapping in and taking any movements that feel good here. You may even get a couple cracks through your spine. Okay, and then from there we're gonna come up to standing for some half salutations to start warming up.

Come to our knees, let's move the blankets out of the way and we'll come to standing at the front of your, at the back of your mat rather. So we'll start with our feet at least hip distance apart. It may feel better for some of us to go a little wider especially the more further along and the belly's gotten quite big and we'll just relax, roll the shoulders down the back, tap into your breathing once again, inhaling and exhaling through the nose. If you're comfortable with Ujjayi breathing going ahead and starting that now by slightly toning the back of the throat but not creating tension by doing that, especially if that constricts the jaw. We wanna really focus today on letting the jaw be soft and relaxed.

So if you need to shake the jaw out a little bit go ahead and do so and then notice the connection as you kinda relax in the jaw. You can also start to feel that the hips start to melt and relax as well. And that may be a longer term goal for some of us. 'Cause a lot of us do hold a lot of tension in the hips. And then with the inhalation we're gonna reach the arms up overhead.

You can take the arms apart or bring the hands together, touch, and look up if that's okay for shoulders and neck. Exhalation, hinge at the hips if you need to. Bend the knees as you fold, let the head and neck relax. Inhale, look up, lengthen the spine pulling the chest forward and through. Exhale again folding, lengthening the back of the neck and head.

Inhale coming back up to standing, reaching the arms up as high as you can to lengthen the side bodies and then exhale returning back to Tadasana. Inhale again, reaching the arms up. Exhaling, hinging at the hips and folding forward bending your knees as needed. Inhale, lengthening the spine. You can keep the knees bent here if you need to.

Exhale and fold. Inhale coming all the way up to the top again reaching the arms up, exhale returning to standing. Last one, inhale arms reach. Exhale, hinge at the hips and fold. Inhale again look up lengthen this time exhale we're gonna bend the knees, set the hands down to the floor, walk the hands forward for a downward-facing dog.

You can let the head and neck relax and just take a few deep breaths here. And if you've been instructed not to take downward-facing dog or have your heart above your head, no inversions, then just take child's pose. Or if you just need a little more time warming up then just bring the knees to the floor and rest in child's pose like this. If you're in down dog for the first one we may wanna pedal the feet out a little, warming up one side at a time. And then settling in the middle and then walking the hands back towards the feet.

Inhale look up and lengthen. Exhale and fold. Inhale come all the way up. Reach the arms up overhead and exhale arms down alongside the body. I'm gonna take myself to the front of the mat and we'll start regular sun salutations but feel free to stay with that variation if you like that there.

Inhale arms reach. Exhale hinge at the hips and fold forward. Inhale look up and lengthen the spine. With exhalation bend your knees, set your hands in front of your feet. Step back to downward-facing dog.

From downward-facing dog we'll bring the knees to the floor. You can take a cat/cow here inhaling, exhaling. You can stay with that or you can take that to Chaturanga. For the first one let's all do it with the knees down on the floor and come all the way to your belly, roll the shoulders down the back, lift the chest lengthening the front body and then exhale. We'll take that back to downward-facing dog.

Let the head and neck relax. Press the floor away from you to stretch the side bodies. If you need to bend the knees a little bit so that you can keep the pelvis tilted forward. If that's too much on the hamstrings then just bend the knees more. Otherwise go ahead and straighten the legs out and then your next exhalation look forward and we'll just walk the feet forward.

You can take tiny baby steps. Inhale lengthen looking up. Exhale fold. Inhale come all the way up to the top, reaching and exhale arms down alongside the body. Once again inhale reaching up.

Exhale and fold forward. Inhale look up and lengthen. Exhale set the hands down. Step back to down dog. You can repeat the previous variations or inhale come forward to plank.

Exhale lower. Inhale to upward-facing dog or cobra. And exhale back downward-facing dog. Breathing here. And look forward and with your exhale walking your feet to your hands.

Inhale look up and lengthen. Exhale fold. Inhale all the way up to the top and exhale Samasthiti. So we'll take tree pose next as a way to open up the hips. So we'll just shift the weight to your left foot.

From your left foot what tends to happen in tree pose is we sit into the left hip. Avoid that temptation. So firm the outer hip in and balance can be challenging when we're pregnant so if you need to come by a wall, place your hand on a wall, it's fine. There's no shame, we're all stumbling around here. So another option is just to take the hands to the hips, keep the toes on the floor, and just turn the knee out.

And as you turn the knee out try to keep the hips square. This could be your tree pose. If you feel stable find a gazing point, something that doesn't work and you can bring your foot to your shin or if your hips are really open and it's available to you you can take your foot up to your thigh. As you press the foot into the thigh resist the outer left hip back into the foot, hands can come to prayer or we can reach the arms up overhead. And take several breaths here.

There's one, two, as you reach try to lift the lower back ribs and side ribs as well. Three, so we're really lengthening, growing tall, four, and five. Release the arms and just guide the knee back to center, straighten the leg, and come back to standing. Then we'll take that on the other side. So take the weight to the right foot.

Again careful not to sit into the hip. Keep it firmed in, maybe just turning the knee out and keeping the toes on the floor as you square yourself off to the front or taking the foot to the shin all the way up to the thigh. From there keeping the hips squaring to the front as you press the left knee out, hands can come to prayer and you can balance there or reach the arms all the way up overhead. As you reach careful not to go too much into a back bend here. It's really more neutral than that.

So lift up length on the front, back, and both sides of the body and breathe, one, two, three, four, and five. And then we'll release the arms down, take the knee back to center, straighten out the leg, and come back to Samasthiti. And we'll go into some variations on sun salutation B. So we'll step to the front of our mats with our feet apart hip distance. With an inhalation we're gonna sit the hips back like we're sitting into a chair, bend your knees, inhale, lift the arms up, and then exhalation hinge at the hips, fold forward, inhale look up, lengthen, exhale, bend your knees, set your hands flat, step back to down dog.

From downward-facing dog let's bring our knees down to the floor. First one we'll just take a gentle warmup. Step the right foot forward. Take it a little more to the right so it's like behind your right hand or even a little more than that to the right. Then we'll come up.

So we're in a low lunge. Bring your hands onto your right knee. If you wanna take this a little deeper, snuggle your right foot forward a little further and then sink into your right knee. Now when you do this just make sure the knee doesn't go past the ankle. We wanna keep it right above the ankle bone.

Relax your shoulders, lift the chest up, and breathe. And we'll take this a little further. We'll bring our hand to the floor for a moment. Again careful for balance, that can be challenging here so straighten your back leg, press down into your right heel, you can use your hand on top of your right knee to press yourself up into a high lunge. Maybe this is good for you or reach the arms up.

Take a deep breath in. We'll just take a couple breaths here. And then we'll release that. Bring the hands down to the floor inside your right foot, step back to down dog. From here you have the option to take a cat/cow, take plank to down dog, or your full vinyasa, your choice.

Inhaling and exhaling, whatever variation you chose. And then from down dog we'll bring the knees to the floor and we'll step the left foot forward and we'll take our hands onto our left knee making sure you have a wide enough base and then you can either stay here or scoot your left foot forward and sink deep into your left knee. As you sink into the left knee just look at it, make sure the knee's directly over the top of the ankle. Square your shoulders off and breathe. Shoulders relaxed.

And again paying attention to the breath, the jaw, making sure you're not holding tension anywhere. If you are back off the posture, release the tension, and see if maybe you can sink in deeper from a more relaxed place. Then bringing the hands down to the floor, the right hand anyhow. Curl the back toes under, straighten the right leg coming into a lunge, then use your left hand on top of your left knee to press yourself up into a crescent. Maybe the hands stay down or you bring the hands up and we take a few breaths here.

Lifting the chest, lengthening the side bodies, breathing deeply. Arms can stay apart if it's too much tension around the neck and shoulders to bring them together. And then with your exhalation bring the hands down to the floor inside your left foot. Step back to down dog and then you have the option to take cat/cow, plank, child's pose, or a full transition. Your choice.

And exhale down dog. Breathing in down dog. And with your next breath look forward, walk your feet to your hands. Inhale look up and lengthen, exhale and fold. Bend your knees, sit your hips back, inhale, Utkatasana.

And exhale Samasthiti. And then again another variation on sun salutation B bend your knees, sit your hips back, inhale, exhale and fold. Inhale look up and lengthen, exhale bend your knees, set your hands down, step back to down dog. From downward-facing dog if you need to you can bring your feet together, raise your right leg up, sweep the right foot forward, pivot your left heel down and with inhalation you can come up into warrior one. If you need to bring your right hand to your right knee as you lift up.

Take a few breaths in warrior one pressing the outer edge of the left foot down, squaring the hips, and sinking deep into the bend in the right knee. With your next exhalation careful here we wanna keep the right knee directly over the ankle but we're gonna open the hips up to warrior two so our shoulders and our hips are gonna start to open to the left. Your hips are gonna stay at a slight angle but your shoulders can pretty much square. We'll take the arms out to the side, look over your right shoulder. Take a deep breath in, press your left leg straight, with exhalation we'll take the right elbow to the right knee and then the left arm can come straight up to the ceiling or you turn the palm forward and sweep the arm up overhead.

If it's appropriate for you you can bring your right hand down to the floor or to a block, inside or outside of the right foot. Otherwise stay with the elbow to knee. And then holding and breathing, staying with it and from there we're gonna press the feet on an inhale, come up into warrior two again, and exhale bring the hands down to the floor, set the hands inside the right foot, pick up your back heel, and step back to down dog. You can stay in down dog or child's pose or you have the option to take a vinyasa. And exhale coming back to down dog.

And then from down dog you can bring your feet together. Inhale raise the left leg up and exhale sweep the left leg forward. Pivot the right heel down. Press the outer edge of the right foot on an inhale coming up into Virabhadrasana one, warrior one. Press the back leg straight, press the outer edge of the right foot down to the floor.

Square the hips off. Inhale, reach up high, exhale sink deep into your left knee. And then careful as we transition to Virabhadrasana two. Keep your left knee directly over ankle. It's gonna wanna collapse in.

Your job is to keep it over the ankle as you open the hips up to the right. The hips will stay at a slight angle but the shoulders can square to the right and we'll take the arms up shoulder height. Press down into your heels and breathe. And then either going into elbow to knee for Parsvakonasana or if it's appropriate for you taking the hand to the floor outside of the foot. And blocks are also an option here.

And breathing. And then press down into your heels on inhale, come up and exhale bring the hands down to the floor inside your left foot pick up your back heel and step back to downward-facing dog. Option to stay there child's pose or come forward to plank and exhale. Inhale to cobra or up dog. And exhale back downward-facing dog.

End of your exhalation looking forward and walking your feet to your hands. Inhale as you land, look up, and lengthen. Exhale and fold. Bend your knees, sit your hips back, inhale, lift, reach the arms up, and exhale Samasthiti or Tadasana. Okay, balancing pose with a hip opener again.

Little deeper than tree pose. So if this feels like too much then just repeat tree pose again. Otherwise, we'll take the weight to the left foot and we'll put a slight bend in the left knee and then we're gonna take the right ankle above the left knee, turn the knee out, keep the right foot flexed, which is really helpful for your knee, your right knee. So rather than letting it sickle you wanna keep that foot well aligned and then you just sit the hips back like you're sitting into a chair. Options are just to stay here with hands on knee and ankle, gently pressing the knee and ankle but the chest opening.

Or you can bring the hands to prayer position. You may not have room for that in which case the arms can go out to the side. And we'll hold and breathe. It's one, two, three, you can also start to sweep the arms back, pull the chest forward, four, five, let's take a couple extra breaths here, six, seven, eight, nine, and 10 then we'll come back up to standing slowly straighten out the right leg and step down on to the right foot. Then we'll take the other side.

So we'll put a little bend in the right knee and we'll flex the left foot, set the left ankle above the right knee, turn the left knee out and then as you sit the hips down try not to let the hips sway out to the right too much. Keep them more square to the front and then sit back like you're sitting into a chair. Hands can go to knee and ankle just for support. Again, you might need a wall here. Feel free to use it or hands to prayer, out to the side.

That's one, two, three, four, maybe take the hands back if you like, five, opening the chest, relaxing shoulders, six, seven, eight, nine, and 10 and coming up to standing straightening the left leg and setting the left foot down. Some squats. So for our squats we wanna turn our toes about 45 degrees and this will change depending on your range of motion in your hips. So for some it may be turned straight forward. Others may wanna go a little more turned out but stay in a place where you can be stable 'cause we're gonna be moving as we squat.

So I like about 45 degrees and you want about a leg's distance between your feet to start and from here we're gonna inhale, bend the knees, and raise the arms up and exhale come to standing and we'll do that 10 times in a row. So inhale, and exhale. Two, and exhale. Three, and exhale. Four, and exhale.

Five, exhale. Six, exhale. Seven, exhale. Eight, exhale. Nine, exhale.

And 10, and exhale. So you can repeat that or we're gonna do low squats. Some of us will need to grab a blanket and we'll set our heels on the blanket. From here it would be same kind of idea. So if this is too much, squatting is difficult, just stay with the previous version.

Otherwise you'll inhale bend all the way down and exhale. Inhale and exhale. Inhale, that's three. Four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and 10 inhaling coming up and exhaling stepping off of your blanket moving it out of the way and coming to the front of your mat. So we're just gonna take the sun salutation down to downward dog and then we'll come to some seated poses.

Inhale reach. Exhale fold. Inhale look up, lengthen. Exhale bend your knees, set your hands down, step back to downward dog. And from downward dog we'll bring our knees to the floor and just cross your ankles and sit back and we're gonna take Janusirsasana A.

So you might wanna sit up on a blanket or two for the same reasons as before. We really wanna keep our pelvis upright. So if you know you can do that on the floor and you can honestly do that then you can sit on the floor. Otherwise, let's sit up on a blanket just so we have that extra support. And then we'll take the left leg out in front and if you're really high up like on a block or a bolster you just wanna make sure you don't lock out this knee and hyperextend it.

So it may be a good idea to roll up a blanket, put it underneath the knee or put a block underneath the knee just so that you don't go beyond straight. I have the ability to hyperextend as a lot of people do. So just keep the heel on the floor and the knee a little lifted and then instead of whereas usually before baby the foot would go right in front of the hip. Now I take the foot a little more to the left and when I take my right leg back you point the toe and take the knee out. For me a pointed toe works.

I have really open hips, always have. Some of us may need to stay with the foot flexed and against the thigh and if the knee is up here you're gonna bring another block underneath the right knee. But when we start to fold forward, if we choose to fold, or if we do fold forward we're gonna be actually folding at an angle as opposed to squaring off this left knee and folding over the left knee. So you'll stay more at about 45 degrees, facing 45 degrees. One caution I'll say here is sometimes towards the end of pregnancy for women there's a little too much pressure in the pubic bone that starts to separate a little bit.

If that's the case for you this may not be an appropriate pose. In which case just sit with Dandasana and start to work towards Paschimottanasana. Otherwise, if that's not happening for you then go ahead and open your right knee out to the side either pointed or flexed foot. Inhale we'll lift the chest and exhale will start to walk forward to where it feels appropriate and where the baby and the belly still have room. Pulling the chest forward and I always like to really put my consciousness, my intension on my baby whenever I'm doing these poses just to really tap in, make sure I'm still breathing and providing fresh oxygen to the baby.

And then we'll just come up out of this side if you folded and we'll straighten the right leg and pull the left leg back, either the foot flexed and the knee on a block or taking the knee out a little bit more with the toe pointed and then taking the hands forward, lifting the chest, leaving lots of room for the belly, for the baby and starting to walk the hands forward if it's appropriate for both mother and child and breathing. And then again paying attention that you're keeping the jaw soft, the hips as relaxed as possible, and the breathing nice and relaxed. So the diaphragm can drop, the ribcage can expand, and then we'll come up out of that and then Marichyasana A modified for pregnant women. So we keep the left leg straight and we're gonna bend the right knee and when we do that the right hip will probably lift off the floor, it's fine. Let the toes turn out a little bit.

So rather than having the toes straight forward and right back, which may be okay if you're early on, but as the belly gets bigger just turn the foot out, turn the knee out so you have more of like a right angle here and then there's lots of room for the belly. And this may be your Marichyasana A. You can just sit upright like this. Again, same caution for the pubic bone as before. If it doesn't feel right or it feels like it's stretching there too much drop it.

It's not the pose for you right now. Otherwise inhale lift the chest up and exhale. Same thing, we'll take the hands inside of the left leg and you can start to fold forward here. And go to a place where you can breathe, you can relax, you can surrender into the pose. You're not tensing up, gripping, or compressing.

Think spaciousness, ease, surrender. And then we'll walk the hands back, reach the right leg straight, bend the left leg, turn the left toes out, and then start to square yourself off but more with where the hips are. So rather than trying to square off over the right knee give yourself a little bit more room for your belly, keep the belly inside the right thing then inhale lift the chest. You may just stay here and exhale possibly starting to fold forward as long as it leaves space for the baby. And breathing.

Relaxing into the pose. If you need to come out of it, it's too intense, go ahead and do so. Find a place that's workable where you can breathe. And then we'll walk the hands back. Inhale coming up and straightening the left leg and we'll prepare for Shavasana, a well-earned Shavasana.

So we'll take it on our sides if this is a comfortable position for you. We'll keep the blanket here so it can be underneath the belly supporting the belly. Another bolster behind the knee, or between the knees rather so that we keep the knees and the hips pretty much in line and then we'll lay over top of our blanket at least having the belly supported by the blanket. If you have a pillow and you'd like to use a pillow go ahead. Otherwise just resting your head on your arm, relaxing and breathing.

We'll stay here for about three minutes but you have the option to stay as long as you'd like. Take the first couple minutes to move around, find a really comfortable position that you can relax into. And then once you've found that position just settle in on the breath. And rather than focusing on lengthening the breath and making it stronger, deeper, more heating at this point just focus on relaxing the breath, relaxing the body, allowing yourself to cool down and restore. And slowly starting to come up out of your resting pose.

Of course stay here longer if you have the time and you'd like to. Otherwise setting the hand down in front of the heart on the floor, pushing into that hand to let yourself come up, staying relaxed, letting your head and neck stay relaxed as you come up. And we'll come to Sukhasana, easy seat, comfortable seated position. And we'll just close out the practice with the hands at prayer position and bow in gratitude. And just connecting to baby, the life growing inside of you, filling with love and light.

And then thank you all, namaste.


1 person likes this.
Wonderful and strong practice!! Reminded me that I am strong and can do this!!! Thank you!!!

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