Prenatal Yoga Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 8

Upper Body Relief

30 min - Practice


Swelling and inflammation are very common in pregnancy, especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. Carpal tunnel and wrist sensitivity can flare up. These short techniques are designed to increase mobility and circulation, and offer relief to the neck, shoulders, wrists, and hands. 
What You'll Need: Mat, Chair, Strap

About This Video


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Welcome, nice to be here with you and our babies. This is an upper body relief practice designed to help increase circulation, mobility and hopefully offer some relief in your neck, shoulders, wrists and hands. I know for me, moving into the second and third trimester, there's swelling and inflammation in the wrists and hands, so hopefully this practice and these techniques will help. You might sit in a chair, you can also do this on the floor or standing wherever you are most comfortable and it'll be helpful to have a strap or a towel as we get into the shoulders. So as you're ready, find yourself in a comfortable position.

If you're seated, you might sit at the edge of your chair or sofa or rocker, wherever you might be, and it might feel good to have your feet grounded just to feel that connection and feel the support beneath you. Taking a few moments together to arrive and settle, centering. Take a moment to notice what has your attention, where your energy is, thoughts swirling around, spending your attention, kind of rest on the breath. Nice, you just feel the rise of your inhale and fall of the exhale and with each exhale softening something, so maybe it's the face a bit, the jaw, the shoulders, the hands, the feet. Notice any areas that may be gripping or tight or tense, nice.

As you're ready, we'll move into some pelvic spinal work in Cat-Cow, so you can keep your hands on your legs if you're seated and just begin to let your back round here, so you're rolling towards the back edge of your sitting bones and then with your inhale rock towards the front edge of your sitting bones coming into the arch position or the cow and just feel that length and space through your chest and then with your exhale round your back hugging your baby and towards you gently and then with your inhale roll your pelvis forward feeling that spinal extension and that space in your chest and a few more times at your own pace with the breath, you might let your awareness rest right at the base of your spine, your sitting bones, your pelvis, feeling that articulation up through the spine and let's do that one more time rounding the back and then lengthening the front body and then come into what feels like the center and let's take some circles with the rib cage and you can keep your eyes open or softly focused as you feel into your body, kind of stirring if you'd stir a pot of soup from the pelvis all the way up into your rib cage maybe up into your shoulders and always finding what feels right for you, so if it feels like it's too much today or in this moment it is, so you might back it off a little bit and then we'll circle in the other direction, you might find one direction is a bit more natural or intuitive than the other, just a few more moments waking up the rib cage maybe feeling and sensing any sensations or inner movements, nice and then just come into again what feels like the center and we'll start with some shoulder rolls just rolling the shoulders up back and down, up back and down and feel how your whole upper body can get involved here and it's nice to feel the feet on the floor, just this grounding support as you roll and you might coordinate with a breath, inhale and exhale drop, a few more like this. For me sleeping on my sides has been something to adjust to and there can be a lot of tension in the shoulders, the shoulder blades, the neck and let's circle in the other direction so back up and forward, back up and forward and you might start to even feel and notice some inner warmth and heat, nice, good and then release and just shake it out, reach your arms out to your sides and then roll your shoulders forward in that internal rotation and then roll the shoulders back open the chest and again from the shoulders rolling the arms forward and then rolling the arms back and continue and you might explore this cat cow movement through your spine so the whole body is participating as you round and as you press and open, a few more, nice, oh this feels so good, how does it feel for you? Let me know, nice, come back to the center and we're just going to press and reach out so feel how you can draw your fingers towards your face as you reach from your heart into the heels of your hands, now for me this is quite intense and then we're going to stretch the top of the hands and wrists, nice, drawing the fingers in, one more inhale and then exhale, release and just shake it out, nice work, grounding through the feet we'll inhale sweep the arms up towards the sky, turn the palms forward and then bend your elbows, cactus your arms and then inhale stretch your arms up towards the sky again, palms facing forward and with your exhale bend cactus the arms open the chest, let's do that one more time inhale arms reach, exhale pull down can you feel that shoulder blades hugging towards each other, next time you reach the arms up just release them down and shake it out, we'll do that one more time this time reach the arms forward palms down and then just gently begin to pull back so you're engaging your shoulder blades and then reaching forward and then pull back squeeze the shoulder blades, last one reach the arms forward and then squeeze engage open the chest, reach forward and then release down and shake it out, nice, let's bring the forearms together and just begin to as you bring the forearms together you might lift your elbows just a little higher to make room for your chest palms gently pressing forearms pressing find that ease in your neck so you might gently let the head move a little bit side to side and finding the appropriate amount of pressure right so you might find that as you really press here it increases the sensation so you might choose to back it off a little bit you more moments here breathing now this might not look like a lot but for me there's a lot happening right feel a lot of a lot of little firings in the fingers the shoulder blades beautiful and then when you're ready just let the arms really shake it out we'll do one more seated here so let's go ahead and lift the arms and bring the hands behind the head so finding that interlace and you might even bring your thumbs right around the base of your skull the occiput ground through the feet inhale can you feel that lift from the back of the heart as you open up through the chest you might find yourself going into a little bit of an extension or a just gentle backbend opening up through the chest and then feel the action of hugging baby in towards you so you're gently drawing the baby in towards you front ribs drawing in low back lengthening inhale together and then exhale just a gentle side stretch over to your right any amount whoo grounding through the feet and pelvis inhale come back up let's try the other side over to your left again feel the support beneath you the ground chair inhale back up one more time in each direction over to the right now opening the left side body inhale back at the center and over to the left opening and lengthening left side body inhale back to center and then exhale release the arms and again shake it out let's take just a few more shoulder rolls and I'm moving all of that through the body inhale and exhale nice beautiful from here we'll come up to stand now as you come up to stand go ahead and grab your strap or your towel and you can also do this seated by the way but I'm gonna stand today for this bring your feet kind of wide ish so just wider than your hips makes make sure there's space for your belly and bring your hands a little wider than your shoulders spreading your toes maybe a soft bend through your knees and then with the breath as you inhale stretch your arms up towards the sky ground through your feet and feel you can kind of wiggle and lengthen out of your low back now notice how your lower back feels and if there's any strain or compression in your low back like my tendency is to go into a back bend here feel the action of hugging the baby and towards you as your lower back lengthens feel the tailbone kind of lengthening towards the heels and find that ease in the neck and then exhale from the shoulders lower the arms down and again with a breath ground through the feet inhale reach your arms up feel that extension up from the spine into the heart and then exhale let the arms release let's do that one more time ground through the feet inhale reach the arms up this time can you feel like you're pulling the strap apart a little bit feeling the shoulder blades wake up beautiful that action of hugging baby and towards you this time we'll ground through the feet now as you're ready inhale stretch up out and over towards your right and as you do this you can ground through your left foot reach up through your left arm and just find a place where your neck feels good ground through the feet inhale back up and over to your left ground through your right foot reach up through your right arm easy in the neck inhale back up one more time in each direction over to the right side bend inhale up and over to your left and inhale back up you might stay here you might bring the hands a little wider on the strap or towel and begin to play an experiment with bringing your arms back a little bit now if you feel any tingling shooting pain numbness you might back it off and bring the arms up but you're just exploring here as you bring the hands wide opening up through the chest breathing it might come all the way down ground through the feet bring it back up and forward and then a few shoulder rolls again just kind of moving that energy through the body beautiful let's go ahead and bring the strap behind the back so arms about shoulder width apart maybe a little wider feet nice and wide to make room for your pelvis and your belly now if you're feeling a little lightheaded or you have heartburn you might just stay upright and open up through the chest and this feels pretty amazing right for me so you might stay right here you might choose to join me in a forward fold as you inhale lift the chest exhale bend your knees and begin to fold at the hips again make space for the belly you might stay half like in a half arch position or in a chair position you might choose to release the head and stretch your arms up towards the ceiling releasing the weight of the head breathing here nice when you feel ready to release go ahead and just drop the strap or towel down to the floor come into your forward fold release the head and the arms and then to come up bend the knees bring your forearms onto your legs you're coming into a squat position and then ground through the feet and you might inhale stretch your arms up to the sky if that feels good and then exhale hands together right at the heart taking a moment or two to pause allowing the blood the energy to move back down into the feet nice from here we'll move into the neck the wrists and the hands so you're welcome to stay standing or you might come down into a chair and find a comfortable position you might take a moment to kind of clear the mat and make sure your strap or towel is tidy out of the way let's move into the neck here so with your feet maybe grounded on the floor just begin to soften your chin down towards your chest and roll your right ear towards your right shoulder and then roll the chin back to the chest and left ear towards the left shoulder and then again rolling the chin towards the chest right ear right shoulder this time you might pause and begin to reach out for your left arm you might even let that right arm release and then roll the left arm forward find that internal rotation roll the left arm back opening up through the arm the hand now you might send the gaze down towards your right leg and be feeling the stretch of the base of the skull on that left side you might gently send the gaze up towards the right you might oscillate a little bit here nodding the head down and up or you might find a spot where you want to pause linger and breathe into where you feel the sensation maybe continuing to explore that internal external rotation of the shoulder and the left arm or pausing a few more moments again softening the face and the jaw inviting the breath in create space and soften and release any tension any holding or stickiness take your time eventually roll the chin back down towards the chest and roll the left ear towards the left shoulder you might extend out through your right arm and maybe release your left arm and just start by looking down towards the left leg or foot and maybe feeling the stretch at the base of the skull on that right side you might let that right palm open as you find that that sweet spot that edge of sensation or stretch and you might kind of articulate through that right shoulder or an arm as you find the internal and external rotation and you might keep the gaze down towards the left you might slowly let the gaze come up towards the left towards the sky or ceiling maybe nodding the head gently up and down to the left and oscillating or finding a spot where you want to pause and investigate breathing into nooks and crannies I am aware that each side feels totally different and I think a lot of it has to do with sleeping on the side super common to have restless nights and insomnia during pregnancy takes effort to find comfort good you might stay where you are or continue when you feel ready to release just relax the effort through the right arm roll the chin down to the chest ground through the feet the sitting bones and just slowly let the head roll up and let's take a few shoulder rolls after that breathing in breathing out and moving that energy through the body we're gonna move into the wrists and hands fingers this is one of my favorite things to do we're gonna just start by flicking like you're flicking water and you can get into it and then really let your wrist go here so this has been very therapeutic with swelling in the hands pain in the wrists relaxing in the joints making things uncomfortable few more just letting their wrists go and flicking flicking find myself doing this multiple times a day it's a nice way to also release tension and stress good flick flick flick and then just really shake it out nice let's bring the palms together we're gonna find a prayer and a glide here so feel your palms melting together and then make sure there's room for your chest here shoulder blades drawing towards each other and just slide your your hands your arms to the right and then back to center and then over to the left right so this movement is simple although there might be a lot of sensation happening through the tendons right side to side a few more breathing softening the eyes the face the jaw over next time we go over to the right let's pause for a few moments again relaxing the shoulders down relaxing the neck and then over to the left breathing back to center and then shake it out nice moving into wrist flexion so begin to take one hand and just gently draw the fingers down right oh you're not trying to overdo it just finding the right amount of sensation you can do it this way you can also do it this way it really depends on what makes sense for your your wrists and hands let the shoulders relax and we'll just take a few breaths together you can also do this on the floor let's say if you're in tabletop or cat cow you could spin the fingers towards your knees in that position we're just giving some gentle pressure here nice inhale exhale release shake it out one more side to go bring the fingers down bring the opposite hand again this side might feel totally different so you're listening to your body your wrists your hands again you can do it this way or this way whatever makes sense breathing and so we're looking to feel sensation without strain or pain few more moments okay and then release shake it out one more wrist extension so we're going to stretch the top of the hand and wrist this might have a different feeling than the extension or the flexion rather again the shoulders relaxing the neck is easy breathing release last side extending softening nice and release and shake it out take a moment to pause and notice we'll play with one more technique here moving into the tendon glide so with both hands just draw the fingers in and hold drawing the fingers in again shoulders relaxing face relaxing and release let's do that again draw the fingers in and release one more time fingers draw in and release and then we're going to fold the fingers down this guy might feel a little strange just for me especially with the swelling you're gonna fold the fingers down and pause soften what you can and then release and fold the fingers down and release one more time fold the fingers down hold nice work release and then we're gonna do that flicking action one more time let the wrist go let the fingers go breathing maybe a sound on the exhale nice and then just shake it out let's go ahead and bring our legs wide so we're coming into a supported goddess position in the chair and then inhale stretch your left arm up towards the sky this feels so nice and then inhale back to center and then over to the right opening the right side body inhale back and then over to the right stretching the left arm up back to center and then let's go side to side so you might even bring your forearm down onto your leg inhale the arm up over inhale and over a few more finding a pace and a rhythm that feels good for you after all of that and a tedious work with the wrists and hands and moving into the neck this sweeping and a side body opening can feel really really yummy really nice nice and then come back to center inhale exhale just a gentle twist to your right dipping the left shoulder forward gazing over the right inhale back to center and then exhale over to the left dipping the right shoulder forward a little adjustment in my spine and side to side a few times sending the gaze over back to center and exhale back to center we'll bring the legs back wider than the hips making space for the pelvis inhale lengthening and exhale just a gentle twist to the right so left hand on the left leg right fingers behind you grounding through the feet lengthen through the spine on the inhale exhale gentle twist to your right you feeling that turning of the rib cage the lungs the gaze and then slow just let the upper just let the neck slowly unwind and then the upper body and wind and then spinal twist over to the left inhale exhale gently twist left fingers behind you right hand the right leg inhale to lengthen exhale gentle rotation and again like anything it's all about how we approach the spinal twist so often we hear spinal twists are contraindicated in pregnancy but it's really about how we approach it so the approaching it slowly gently mindfully finding what feels right for you stay on the twist let the head slowly rotate forward and then just let the upper body unwind just a few shoulder rolls to close breathing in breathing out nice let's rub the hands together feeling the warm feeling the energy and as you rub the hands together bring your hands onto an area of the body that needs some loving attention and energy anywhere and taking a few moments to connect feel and sense your baby these moments of stillness and movement and sensation creating space for all of it beautiful thank you so much for joining us and may this support you.


Lina S
1 person likes this.
Congratulations for your pregnancy!  I've recently explored other classes and now I see you have a nice  prenatal series. This class helps relax. It feels good... pregnant or not Thank you!
Brittany K
1 person likes this.
This was *delightful*. Just the right amount of movement and loosening, I've also had so much tension now that I'm side sleeping! Thank you so much!
Alana Mitnick
Thank YOU Lina S for your comment a year ago! I am so glad you enjoyed this practice and found some relaxation. It's true, it feels good - pregnant or not! Love, Alana 
Alana Mitnick
HI Brittany K! I'm so happy that you are here and found this practice! Ahhh... I completely remember the neck and upper body tension from months and months of side sleeping. It really adds up. So delighted to hear that this practice was helpful in relieving some tension. Take good care of yourself and stay close. Love, Alana 

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