Prenatal Yoga: Ball Class
“The prenatal yoga ball class came together very organically”
~ Kim MacDonald-Heilandt, MamaNurture co-founder
Kim would often use the birthing ball (also called an exercise ball) in her prenatal yoga classes as a way to offer new poses, modifications, or to give relief to the mamas who had pelvic health concerns or discomfort as their pregnancy progressed.
Whenever Kim brought out the birthing balls in a prenatal yoga class, she saw that no one ever wanted to get off of them. She also noticed that the rocking helped soothe mamas both mentally and physically. When students in their third trimester showed up to class, Kim would tell them that they could spend the whole class, relaxing on a birthing ball.
Soon Kim developed the Prenatal Yoga Ball Class, where the entire class was done on the ball. Her intention was to help mamas to feel comfortable on the ball so that they could use it during birth. She also wanted the mamas who were late in their third trimester to feel like they could just hang out on the birthing ball. Still participating and connecting with other mamas.
The entire Prenatal Yoga Ball Class is part of the MamaNurture Prenatal Yoga Training. Here are some of the poses from that flow.
Begin with a few calming breaths. Place on hand on heart and one on belly if that feels comfortable. Inhale and exhale through the nose, allowing the exhale to be longer than the inhale with each breath.
Peanut Butter Jar Ribs
Sit comfortably on the ball with feet spread wide enough for steadiness. Begin to circle the hips and rib cage as though you are running the ribs around the inside of a peanut butter jar. Repeat in both directions.
This pose is beneficial for baby position as well as pelvic health and alignment. Kim (and many other doulas) recommend sitting on the birthing ball daily instead of sitting on the couch. Why? Because it helps to keep baby from falling back towards the spine in a “sunny side up” position. This pose is also great for birthing because the movement is calming to mother, while providing space in the pelvis and the help of gravity to baby.
Sitting in a supported and stable position, clasp hands behind back and allow the spine to lengthen and heart-centre to open while pressing hands into the ball behind (or extending behind depending on flexibility). Ensure that the shoulders remain down and head stays neutral. Hold for a few breaths then release and repeat.
Sit tall with feet wider than hip-width apart. Inhale one arm up beside ear and allow the body to lean to the side opening through the side body. Use the other forearm and hand for support. Take a few breaths and repeat a few times on each side.
This is a great modification for mamas in their third trimester or for those who need less pressure on the pelvic floor.
Widen the legs and turn front foot towards one end of the mat. The back foot should be parallel with the other end of the mat. Bend the front knee and stretch the arms out at shoulder height feeling the length in both arms. Repeat on the other side.
Rest the upper body on the ball. Option to use a blanket to cover the ball or make a pillow with the hands.
This is a great birthing position as gravity is still working, but mama is able to rest and calm the nervous system. Rocking side to side and front to back is also comforting to the nervous system.
Thank you to photographer and prenatal yoga teacher, Carolyne Yeoman-MacDonald of See Why Photography and pregnant yogi, Amanda Lovie for the photos.