Creating Your Nest
All you need to get started with pregnancy yoga at home is space for your mat. You don’t even need to have a mat yet – just set aside the space and start planning what will go in to it.
Ideally your nest needs to be somewhere you can go where you won’t be disturbed. My yoga nest fits in at the end of my bed. We will mainly be using ‘the nest’ for quiet poses and relaxation so you don’t need loads of space. An area of wall to work with is useful but not essential.
Your nest ideally needs to be left out at all times so its easy for you to step into it whenever you’re ready for yoga. The most important thing is that it feels like YOURS. Explain to your partner or family that you are creating a special space and ask them to respect that by not stepping on your mat, leaving things on your mat or disturbing you when you are on your mat.
(NB If you have toddlers already this will be more challenging but is still just about possible – encourage them to snuggle in with you!)
A yoga mat is a great way to mark out your space – about the minimum size you want your nest to be. Yoga mats are widely available and you don’t need to spend a lot of money. A basic mat will be fine. You can also use a rug, towel or blanket instead – just be careful when you’re doing standing poses as you don’t want to be slipping over.
A lot of pregnancy yoga happens on all fours (hand and knees) and lying down, so you may want some extra padding like an old duvet or a folded blanket to make your nest a little more comfy.
Cushions and Pillows
Cushions are excellent props for pregnancy yoga – you will need some for relaxation practices. There are also a wide range of specialist yoga bolsters and other props. As your pregnancy progresses you may choose to invest in some of these items, a bean bag and a ‘birthing ball’. To begin, a pillow from your bed and a cushion from the couch will be fine. Choose fabrics and textures that you like and enjoy having around. I use a special silk covered cushion that was a gift from my Grandmother – it warms my heart.
Blankets and Socks
Equip your nest with a cosy blanket and a pair of warm socks for relaxation.
If you like to doodle, draw or record your thoughts and feelings then a pregnancy journal and some coloured pens is a lovely addition to your nest.
Depending on the space you have available you may like to have photographs or other images in or around your nest. The idea is to surround yourself with things that make you feel happy and safe. I keep a family photo nearby my yoga nest.
Flowers, candles and scents
Make your space beautiful however feels right for you. If you enjoy fresh flowers keep a vase nearby. Light a candle each time you step in to your nest, or anoint yourself with a small amount of pregnancy-friendly essential oil such as lavender or geranium (not all essential oils are safe for use during pregnancy so please consult a qualified aromatherapist before getting too carried away!)
Affirmations are short, positive statements that, when repeated daily, can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. You can write affirmations on post-it notes and stick them to your mat or use a message board or white board to keep your affirmations visible and at the forefront of your attention.
The affirmation I use in class is
I Am Listening to My Own Inner Wisdom
Some people like to work with lots of different affirmations and others like to choose just one special affirmation. You can find some more example affirmations here.
Keep It Portable
I recommend leaving your nest set up in your home so you can easily slip into it whenever you want to. However, if you’re going away on holiday or visiting family and friends then having a portable nest is really handy too – take it all with you so you can continue to practise yoga on the go.
If your nest is portable it also means you can pack it all up when you go in to labour and take it with you to your chosen place of birth. Taking your nest with you when you give birth is a way to create a familiar, homely experience in any environment.
Make it Yours
It’s really up to you how much or little you bring in to your nest. Choose colours, fabrics, images and scents that you really enjoy.
Your nest should be a place you can comfortably lie down and practice deep relaxation. I’ll be writing more about the hows and whys of this in future posts, but you can start right away by listening online to one of my free guided relaxations for pregnancy available on Soundcloud.