Pregnancy is a beautiful, interesting and an uncomfortable experience, especially the farther along you go. However, yoga is here to assist you as your body and life transition! Yoga is an easy, and highly beneficial practice to continue during your pregnancy. There are so many postures to choose from, and they can easily be modified to suit your comfort level, and pregnancy stage.
The following are several postures that will help you avoid and alleviate pain or pressure, and also help your muscles as they expand to make room for baby. As with any yoga practice, pay attention to how you feel, and adjust accordingly…
1. Extended Side Angle Pose
There will be some, or many times when you feel fatigued or even drained of energy completely during pregnancy. It’s easy to spend a good portion of the day sitting, whether at work or at home, and letting this get the best of you. For a grounding, and energizing pose extended side angle is a good one to try.
This posture requires the firm planting of your feet, strengthens legs, and helps to open up the hips. As you extend your arm up over your head in this posture, it gives a full body stretch on that side, from your fingers to your toes. You are also able to rest your unextended arm on your thigh, and your stomach faces forward keeping things balanced, and baby belly friendly.
2. Cat/Cow Pose
Back pain in general is unpleasant, now add 20-pounds to the front of your body and see how that feels! Most women will experience some sort of back pain, or “back labor” during their pregnancy. Thankfully cat/cow pose is here to make things better.
By gently rocking from cat to cow pose, this movement will warm up your spine, move the muscles around it and stretch your body. It also will help to shift the weight of the baby away from your spine, giving you some relief. This is a fantastic and simple yoga posture to practice throughout your pregnancy, and an easy go to should you experience the dreaded “back labor” pains.
3. Bharadvaja’s Twist
Having an uncomfortable day on your feet? Try some seated postures. This easy twist has all the pros for your pregnancy, especially if you are in the second trimester. Strengthening the lower back, while relieving lower back pain, stiff neck and most importantly sciatica. For many women, they have never experienced sciatica until pregnancy, so keep this pose in your back pocket!
This posture is also great for stretching out your shoulders, spine, and hips. All the areas that your body is going to feel pressure and added weight, as the baby grows.
4. Sitting Side Stretch
The farther along you get in your pregnancy, the more you may struggle with things previously easy, like putting on your shoes. As the baby grows, it’s important to find as much space as you can in our torso.
Sitting side stretch will help open up your side waist, your pelvis and stretch your hips. It’s a simple and seated pose, with great results. You can easily do this pose on days when your feet hurt. If you find the bones in your buttocks are pressing into the floor and cause discomfort, please place a folded blanket underneath yourself. Sometimes a yoga mat just won’t be enough.
5. Warrior I and Warrior II
Standing postures are great for improving focus, balance, and stability. And Warrior I and II have a multitude of health benefits. Strengthening your arms, shoulders, legs, ankles and back, these poses also open up your chest and lungs. Improving circulation and respiration.
These two Warrior poses are also beneficial for energizing the entire body. Warrior II in particular will help relieve backache in your second trimester, and also aids with sciatica while being therapeutic for women with flat feet.
6. Downward Facing Dog
Want to feel energized? Get down with this yoga pose! Downward facing dog has incredible health benefits. Not only does it build bone density and boost circulation, it relieves stiffness and back pain, and just wakes you up! If you find the pressure on your arms unpleasant, drop down onto your forearms, and modify. This variation is known as dolphin.
If your heels do not touch the ground, that’s completely fine. Sometimes the hamstrings are just not having any of it, in this case use a folded blanket or pillow to place underneath your heels. If you have high blood pressure, consult a doctor before attempting this pose, and it is not recommended for pregnant women in their third trimester.
7. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is a great spine lengthener and a very grounding pose. It is used often in many styles of yoga class, as a go-to resting position between asanas. This pose is appropriate for any stage in pregnancy, with a few modifications. Listening to your body is key, especially when pregnant.
You may find that while in child’s pose, the tops of your feet hurt against the floor, or maybe your knees hurt. At this point, place a folded blanket underneath your legs/feet. You may also need to adjust the width in which your legs are apart, depending on the size of your baby bump. If you are unable to be comfortable with your forehead on the floor, while in this position, try stacking folded blankets in front of you, or some bolsters and simply hug them and turn your head to one side.
8. Tree Pose
Tree is a fun and fantastic balancing pose that’s also great for conditioning your concentration. As you move further into your pregnancy, your relationship with balance and gravity can be really thrown off. The growth of your belly can cause you to feel a disconnect with things beneath you.
Use tree pose to reconnect and gain confidence as your pregnancy progresses. Balance in all aspects of life is important, but as you begin your journey into motherhood, maintaining that will be hugely beneficial.
9. Cow Face Pose
After carrying the weight of the world, and an expanding belly 24/7, you will benefit from a good shoulder stretch. Cow face pose is excellent for expanding the chest, and extending the latissimus dorsi (lower back muscles).
This is one of the best shoulder openers around. Cow face will stretch the muscles of the upper back, upper arms, chest, hips, and thighs. Many people will often feel this pose in their hands, arms and ankles. Use a strap if you can’t quite reach.
10. Easy Pose
This pose is often done during meditation; it’s simply sitting on the floor with legs crossed comfortably. Easy pose relaxes the muscles, quiets the mind, and helps bring you back to the present moment.
Reducing blood pressure and slowing the heart rate, this pose helps to calm you completely. Sit in easy pose anytime you need a fix of peace, and remember—an important part of birth preparation and labor is learning how to relax the muscles not being used.