Pregnancy is an incredibly special time in a woman’s life.
Creating life and carrying a soul inside your body for nine months gives new meaning to the word amazing. This almost makes you forget how uncomfortable it can be during pregnancy, not to mention the list of common pregnancy complaints is long and not particularly distinguished.
Pregnancy and Your Body
From pigmented skin and back-ne, to cramps and constant trips to the loo, growing a life takes its toll on your body. Did I mention the morning all-day sickness, second trimester headaches, and the emotional rollercoaster you’re on?
You know, crying of joy one minute to yelling at your husband the next for drinking the last Blue Machine Naked Juice in the fridge (not citing personal examples here at all).
And if those symptoms weren’t enough, many women suffer from heartburn, reflux, sciatic nerve pain, swollen legs, and major fatigue.
So it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, pregnancy is a time to be gentle on yourself, appreciate how amazing you are, and present in your body without judgment. It is a time to nourish yourself and your baby—and what better way to do this than with yoga?
Yoga helps create space for the baby, comfort the mama, relieve tension in the upper back, alleviate anxiety around labour, decrease fluid retention, and build strength in the legs to prepare for the physical side of labour.
What Not to Do While Pregnant
- Hot or Bikram yoga
- Major backbends
- Lower spinal or deep twists
- Too much ab work
- Belly down postures (Cobra, Locust, Bow, etc.)
- Lying on your back for a long time
- Overstretch – Your body, clever little thing it is, is producing a hormone that softens tissues and ligaments in the pelvic floor (trust me you’ll be grateful for this when b-day rolls around!), which increases your risk of pulling a muscle if you stretch further than usual.
- Breath retention (kumbhaka)
What to Do While Pregnant
- Get the all-clear from your doc or midwife
- Be present in your body and with your baby
- Be gentle and kind to yourself
- Listen to, and love, your body
- Check all judgment at the door
Here are eight of my favourite eight yoga poses to ease pregnancy pains whilst expecting. I hope you like them as much as I did. Please consult your doc or midwife before starting or continuing your yoga practice, and if at any stage you are uncomfortable, discontinue immediately.
1. Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
This pose increases blood circulation in the lower abdomen, stretches the groin, and increases external rotation in the hips. It’s also my favourite way to calm down and relax my anxious mind.
Make sure to modify this posture for pregnancy by placing a bolster or two under your back and head to create an incline (so you are not flat on your back), and a block between feet to broaden your pelvis.
2. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Balasana can fight off nausea, relieve anxiety, and quiet the mind. Modify for pregnancy by placing a bolster under the torso for support.
3. Cat/Cow Pose (Marjaryasana Bitilasana)
As the baby grows, more pressure is put on the spine, so moving on hands and knees relieves that pressure. Table Top position also encourages the baby into proper position for delivery and can provide relief during contractions in labour.
4. Garland or Squat Pose (Malasana)
Hanging out in a squat like this really opens the hips and pelvis, which is ideal for prenatal practice. It is also known to stimulate digestion and is a great stretch through the legs and back. Modify for pregnancy by leaning against a wall or squatting on blankets. Only suitable until about 30 weeks.
5. Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana)
This is an amazing prep pose for childbirth. It opens the hips and groin and creates space in the pelvis. It also strengthens and tones the many muscles in the legs. We often have a tendency to internally collapse the knee, so line it up with your second toe to prevent injury.
Plus with a name like Goddess, how can we not include it in a prenatal practice?
6. Extended Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
I found Trikonasana incredibly helpful for relieving backache and creating length through the side body. It is also known for its ability to reduce stiffness in the neck, tone the pelvic floor, and relieve indigestion. Take a shorter stance than usual and microbend the front knee.
7. Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
Another lovely side body stretch to create space for the baby, Extended Side Angle is also a wonderful prep pose for childbirth as it strengthens the quads and increases stamina.
Modify your typical expression by resting your front elbow on your front knee rather than reaching for the floor. This will help stabilize your body as bub grows and throws off your center of gravity.
8. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
When you melt into Savasana, do so on your side, with a bolster placed between your legs as lying flat on your back is not recommended.
Did yoga help YOU during your pregnancy? Do you have other yoga tips and poses you’d like to add? Share with us in the comments below!