Yoga for 2: Prenatal and Postnatal Artwork
Season 3 - Episode 6

Strength and Endurance

35 min - Practice


Maria shares an active practice designed to build strength and increase stamina during pregnancy. We move through a series of modified Surya Namaskars (Sun Salutations), and standing and balancing postures before releasing into a hip opener and sweet Savasana.
What You'll Need: Mat, Square Bolster, Blanket, Block


Read Full Transcript

(waves crashing) Welcome. So today's class is for strength and endurance, so it's gonna be a little bit challenging, and I encourage you to stick with the challenge because sometimes we wanna surrender and we wanna be gentle with ourselves, and sometimes we just need to kinda bite the apple and go for it (laughs). So this is a practice that you're gonna do on a day where you're feeling pretty good, and I encourage you just to try and work through any limited beliefs that you have about what you can do. Of course, don't take that to an extreme where you injure yourself. We always wanna listen and respect our bodies, but if you can stick with the practice and take it to the end and push yourself a little more than you might usually, that would be great practice for today.

So we're gonna actually stay down on the floor, and we're just gonna come to hands and knees, and to start off we're just gonna do a little bit of wrist stretches. And the main reason I put this into the sequence is that it's really common for women to get carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy, and I actually think it's related to the shoulders and the forearms. So we're just gonna start on hands and knees, and we'll turn our one wrist around, and right there for some of us, right here will be a stretch. For me, I can start to bend my elbows back, and as I bend my elbow back, I start to peel the wrist off the floor just a touch, and if I point my elbow in towards midline and then start to point my elbow towards my ring finger, middle finger, index finger, and thumb, that just moves the stretch to various areas in my forearm. And I have maybe a gross amount of flexibility there.

Sorry if that's (laughs) not pleasant to look at. So most people will probably be around here. Okay. And you can just spend as much time, but just stretching out those muscles can be really helpful, and it's also helpful for any arm balancing or if you get sore wrists. And then we'll just turn that around for a moment.

Just do the opposite. Flip your hand over and then just bend your elbow back if you need to just to get a little stretch on the opposite side of the forearm and hand. All right, and then we'll release that. We'll do the other side, so flip the other wrist around, and maybe this is enough for you or you start to bend the elbow towards the baby finger, ring, middle, index, even towards the thumb. I'm spending a good amount of time there.

You can always repeat these at a different time too if carpal tunnel is something that you struggle with. But going gentle, we don't wanna aggravate anything if there's inflammation in the nerve. And then flipping the hand the other way, stretching in the opposite direction. And just moving the elbow from out to in or in to out just to vary up the placement and where you're getting that stretch in the forearm. And then coming back to center and planting the hands flat, the knees underneath the hips, the shoulders above the wrists, and just pressing the hands so you're lifting up a little bit between the shoulder blades, and we're gonna find a little bit of core strength here, so we don't wanna overarch the lumbar spine.

Keep a bit of support there, and then from there, we're gonna take one arm up. Then just breathe. Keep the back of the neck long so you don't strain it. And then we'll release that arm down, and we'll do the other side. Press the inner hand of the right hand.

Take the left arm up. Keep supporting the low back. Little bit of space between the shoulder blades. And then we'll release that down, and we'll take the right leg back. Flex the foot.

If it's too much to raise the leg off the floor, just keep the toes on the floor, but maybe you can raise the leg all the way up off the floor. Press the inner hands, support the lumbar. Few breaths there. Doing your best to keep the hips even. You can't really see them, so...

And then release it down, and then left leg up and back. Taking breaths. And release it down, and then we're gonna do opposite hand and foot, so we'll raise the right arm up. Press into your right knee and left hand, and raise the left leg up and back. Hold there and breathe.

And then release it down, and we'll do the opposite side. Left arm up. Press left knee, right hand, raise the right leg up. Hold and breathe. And then release that.

So you have the option of staying with that, on your hands and knees, or we're gonna press it back to downward facing dog. And from downward dog we're gonna take it to plank, and then from plank pose we're just gonna raise the right leg up, pull the belly in, and breathe. You can slightly gaze forward. Keep your left leg nice and strong, and then release the right foot down. Press back to down dog for one moment just to give yourself a little break.

Then come back forward to plank. Raise the left leg up and breathe. And drop the left foot down. Press back to downward facing dog, and from downward facing dog we're gonna walk the hands back towards the feet in preparation for sun salutation A. And then with inhalation, we'll just bring the hands to the shins, look up, and lengthen.

Exhale, fold forward. If you need to, soften the knees, relax. And inhale, come all the way up to the top. Reach the arms up over head and exhale, arms down alongside the body, and we'll walk to the front of our mat. Feet hip distance, shoulders rolled down the back, sternum lifted high.

Inhale, reach the arms up. Exhale, hinge at the hips and fold forward. Inhale, look up and lengthen. Exhale, bend your knees, set your hands flat, step back to downward facing dog. From downward facing dog, we'll come to plank.

Drop the knees down. You always have the option to do a cat-cow here. Otherwise, lowering down to chaturanga on your knees and inhaling up into a cobra. Pull the shoulders down, lift the sternum up, and then exhale. Curl the toes under and come back to downward facing dog.

Take a few breaths here in down dog. If you need to, peddle out your feet just to warm up the backs of the legs a bit. End of your next exhale, look forward. Walk the feet to your hands. Inhale, look up and lengthen.

Exhale and fold. Inhale, come all the way up to the top. And exhale, arms down alongside the body. Repeating, inhale, arms, reach. Exhale, hinge at the hips and fold.

Inhale, lengthen. Exhale, bend the knees, step back to down dog. Inhale, come forward, and exhale, lower down. Inhale, up facing dog. And exhale, downward facing dog.

Holding and breathing. Tilting the pelvis forward to lengthen the backs of the legs, bending the knees if you need to in order to tilt the pelvis forward. End of the exhale, look forward. Walk your feet to your hands. Inhale, look up, and lengthen.

Exhale, fold. And inhale, come all the way up to the top. And exhale, arms down. Last one, inhale, arms, reach. Exhale, fold forward.

Inhale, look up, and lengthen. Exhale, bend your knees, set your hands, step back. Inhale, plank. Exhale, lower. Inhale, up dog.

And exhale, down dog. Vashistasana. Our variation here is that we're gonna bring the right knee down to the floor, and then we're gonna turn onto the inner edge of the left foot. Take the weight into the right hand, pull the right shoulder down the back. Take the left hand to the waist.

This may be your pose. Or you can reach the left arm up to the ceiling, and we'll hold here, pressing the inner right hand down. Reach through the left arm so you're spreading the shoulder blades on the back and breathe. Two. Three.

Sternum lifting. Four. And five. To come out of that, take the left hand down alongside the body, then down to the floor. Pick up the back heel.

Press back to downward facing dog. Inhale, come forward to plank. Exhale, lower. Inhale, cobra, up dog. Exhale, down dog.

Second side, bring the left knee down to the floor. Come onto the inner edge of the right foot. Start to roll the right hip open over the left. Pull the left shoulder blade down the back. Right hand can come to the waist, or you can raise the arm up.

Pull the shoulders down the back. Spread the shoulders apart. Maybe turn up to look up to your right thumb and breathe. One. Two.

Three. Four. And five, release the arm down. Then set it on the floor, pick up your back heel. Press to down dog.

Then come forward to plank. Lower. Inhale, up dog. And exhale, down dog. You have the option of repeating that variation, or you can take full vashistasana.

Inhale, come forward. Exhale, outer edge of the right foot, inner edge of the left. Set the left arm alongside the body. Can stay here. Raise the arm up or stack left foot over right.

Can also take any variations. The foot can come to tree, or we can raise the leg up, grab ahold of the toe. Whoo, one. Two. Three.

Four. And five, release the foot, release the arm. Set the hand down to the floor. Press back to downward facing dog. You can stay here, find child's pose, or take it to plank.

Lower down. Inhale, up dog. Exhale, down dog. Second side. Coming forward.

Outer edge of left foot, inner edge of right, right arm down alongside the body, this can be your pose. Can stack the feet raise the arm, or take variations. One. Two. Three.

Four. And five. Release the leg. Release the arm. Set it down.

Exhale to down dog. Can stay there. Inhale, exhale. Inhale to up dog and exhale back to downward facing dog. From downward facing dog, we'll look forward, and we'll walk our feet to the hands.

Inhale, look up, lengthen. Exhale, fold. Inhale all the way up to the top. And exhale, arms down alongside the body. Surya namaskar B with variations.

Bend your knees, sit your hips back. Inhale, utkatasana. And exhale, fold. Inhale, lengthen. Exhale, hands down.

Step back to downward facing dog. We'll bring our feet together. With inhalation, we'll raise the right leg up, keeping the hips square. Exhale, we're gonna bring the right knee to the outside of the right arm. Inhale, press it back.

Exhale again. Inhale. Exhale, one more time. Inhale. And exhale, release it down.

And we'll take that on the other side. Inhale, raise the left leg up. Exhale, left knee to left shoulder. Inhale, raise the back. Exhale.

Inhale. And exhale. Inhale, raise it up. And exhale, bring the left foot down, coming to downward facing dog. Couple breaths here.

Then looking forward, walk your feet to your hands. Inhale, look up, lengthen. Exhale, fold. Bend your knees, sit your hips back. Inhale, utkatasana.

An exhale, samastitihi. Regular surya namaskar B. Bend your knees, inhale. Exhale, fold. Inhale, lengthen.

Exhale, hands down, step back, downward dog. If you need to, raise the right leg up, go ahead. Otherwise, step the right foot forward, pivot the left heel down. Inhale, coming right up into virabhadrasana I. Exhale, releasing, setting the hand inside the foot, press back to downward dog.

Inhale, come forward to plank. Exhale. Inhale. And exhale back. Left side.

Stepping the left foot forward. Pivot the right heel down. Inhale, coming up. Warrior I. And exhale, releasing.

Pressing to down dog. Then coming forward to plank, lowering. Inhale, up dog. And exhale back to down dog. A few breaths here.

End of the exhale, look forward, walk your feet to your hands. Inhale, look up, lengthen. Exhale, fold. Bend your knees. Inhale, utkatasana.

And exhale, samastitihi. Goddess pose. So we're gonna step open, and we'll take the feet about 45 degrees, and we're gonna bend the knees so that they're over top the ankles, not going past. They may not quite make it over the ankles, and that's okay too. So we're gonna stay in a low squat, well, a high squat really, and we're gonna take the arms up and down for 10 breaths.

So the first arm position will be up and down. Second will be in and out, and then the third will be back. So we're working on different aspects of arm strength. So take a deep breath in, exhale, and squat. Press the knees out so they're pointing to your second toe as best you can, and then take the arms up.

Inhale, arms up. Exhale, down. Inhale. And exhale. We really only need to go about halfway down.

Inhale, exhale, that's three. Inhale. Four. Inhale. Five.

Inhale. Six. Inhale. Seven. Inhale.

Eight. Inhale. Nine. Inhale. 10.

Try to stay in your squat, bend your elbows. One. Two. Three, make sure you're breathing. Four.

Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine.

10. Open. Now set the hands flat on the floor. We're gonna inhale, reach the arms forward. Exhale, pull them back.

It's one,] two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and 10. Ah, and release. Straighten the legs, and we'll come to the front of the mat, and just take the feet hip distance apart. Take the hands to prayer. Take a few deep breaths here.

And then we'll step open again to the right. This time you might need a block, so go ahead and grab ahold of your block. Bring it to your right side just behind the right heel. Trikonasana, we'll inhale and reach the arms up. Drop the shoulders down.

Reach out through both fingertips, both hands. With exhalation, we're gonna pull the right hip back, spinning the right thigh bone out from deep in the hip socket. Lengthen out your right side body. Look for your block. You may wanna stay on fingertips.

Left hand can go to waist. We're gonna stack left shoulder over right. Another option is to place the hand flat, and then reach the arm up and breathe. From there we're gonna move into ardha chandrasana. So you have the option to stay with trikonasana, or you can bend your right knee.

Take your left hand to your waist. Look down. Move the block forward about a foot to the outside of your right foot so that the block is in line with your baby toe. Step your left foot forward a little bit so the weight is on your right foot. Flex your left foot.

Reach out through the left leg, and then stack your shoulders. Maybe if your balance is steady, you start to turn the head, and maybe you raise the left arm up. And we'll hold here. Press down and reach up. Keep spinning the right thigh out from the hip, firming the outer hip in.

Then bend your knee, step back into a triangle, move the block back. Just take triangle for a moment, and then inhale to come up out of that. You can bring the block with you, and we'll change sides. Turn the left toes out, right toes in. Set the block by your left foot.

Inhale, reach the arms up. Spin the left thigh bone out from in the hip socket. Reach through both hands. Exhale, drop the left hip and fold into your triangle pose, and it may be here. As you press into the left hand, reach up through the right and breathe.

Shoulders plugged down the back, sternum open and reaching. Breathing deep. And then you can take the right hand to your waist. Look down, bend your left knee. Take the block forward about a foot.

Step onto your left foot, sliding the right foot forward. Flex the right foot. Get the right leg nice and straight, nice and strong. Start to raise it up. You may stay here or start to turn the head and maybe raise the right arm up.

And breathe, hold and breathe. And then bend your left knee. Can bring the hand to your waist if you need to for your transitions. Step back, find your triangle pose again for a breath. And then inhale, come up.

I'm gonna move the block out of the way. And exhale, step to the front of your mat for samastitihi or tadasana. From here we'll transition to pigeon pose, taking it through a sun salutation. Inhale, reach the arms up. Exhale and fold.

Inhale, look up and lengthen. Exhale, bend the knees, set the hands, step back to down dog. And from downward facing dog, we're gonna come to pigeon, but first let's take a pit stop on our knees and grab a blanket, and depending on how open your hips are, you might even need a bolster. So we pretty much want the hips, I usually set the blanket more at an angle so that it can go underneath the right hip, so we'll put the right knee forward, sit onto the blanket. This can be too much for some of us, in which case I usually teach this pose sitting onto the right hip, having this leg at about a 90-degree angle coming onto the inside of the other knee, and then you have some control over how far you come into it.

Also leaves a nice amount of space for the belly, but if you're comfortable, not comfortable, it's not necessarily comfortable to open the hips, but if it's okay, you can straighten out the back leg, lifting the inner thigh. Reach forward. You may stay here depending on where you're at, or maybe you'll start to fold down into the pose. Just finding a place where you have some stretch sensation in that right hip, but it's not overwhelming. You can still breathe.

You can still relax into it. Find a place that challenges you but doesn't overwhelm you, and then we'll just rest there. And you can always take this pose for a nice hip opener, and you can stay here as long as you'd like. Okay, and then coming up out of this side, and we'll curl the back toes under, lift the hips up and back to down dog. Then rock back and forth, lifting one heel at a time.

You might even feel the difference here in your hips. I certainly did. Then we'll take it on the other side, so take the hands down, and then we'll lift the left knee forward, sit the hip onto the blanket, remembering our variation if it's needed. And then starting to square the hips off to the front, shoulders off to the front, walking the arms forward and taking your pigeon. Then coming on up.

Again, curling the back toes under, coming into downward facing dog. Stretching one heel at a time and then coming down to our knees and setting up for our shavasana, so taking a blanket for underneath the belly and then another bolster for between the knees. If you don't have a bolster, a pillow will work. Lying down on your left side, place the bolster between the legs and then setting the belly on top of the blanket for support and lying down comfortably. We'll stay here for about three minutes, but feel free to stay as long as you'd like or for as long as you have.

Finding a comfortable position and then starting to relax into that comfortable position. Breathing. Taking the time to really scan the entire body. Look for any areas of holding, and then guide your intention to those areas. Guide your breath to those areas.

Particularly with the exhale, really releasing, letting go. Gently starting to deepen the breath. Slowly start to bring some movement into your limbs. And then press the right hand down in front of your heart to lift you up to seated. Coming to a comfortable seat.

We'll just take the hands to prayer position in front of the heart. Gently bow the head. Thank you for your hard work today. Great job. Namaste.


Carly L
1 person likes this.
A nice strong flow!  Thanks :)
Maria Villella
Hi Carly, I’m glad you enjoyed it!!!
yayy!! it is great ! thank you 💖

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