Yoga is the ancient eastern philosophy for uniting with your higher self. What better time to create that connection than when you are expecting! Despite the excitement for the arrival of your new bundle of joy, pregnancy can be a challenging time both physically and mentally.
During pregnancy, it is so easy to give in to feelings of anxiety and self-doubt or to focus on discomfort and pain. Practicing some simple yoga poses during those difficult times in pregnancy can help you surrender to the process and reconnect with your higher self when you need to the most! Here is a list of simple and helpful poses to practice throughout pregnancy.
10 Mountain Pose. Tadasana.
This standing pose is the foundation of all yoga poses. It is simple and yet, deceptively challenging. Stand with your feet hip (or belly) width apart. Bring your attention into your feet. Try to “wake up” your arches by gently lifting your inner ankle up. Pick up your toes and fan them out then rest them back down again.
Strengthen up through your legs to that your knee caps are lifting up. Try to lift up in your pelvic floor and lower belly, use that engagement to gently guide your tailbone forward. Reach up through the crown of your head and draw your shoulder blades together and down your back. Let your arms relax by your side and turn your palms forward. Stay for at least 10 full breaths or longer. This will bring your body into alignment, gently strengthen your core and pelvic floor, and create a connection to your body and breath.
9 Seated Pose. Sukasana.
During pregnancy, it is often best to practice this pose seated on a bolster, firm foam pad, or dense folded blanket. This will help to open your hips. Cross your legs. Do your best to stack your rib cage back over your hips and your head back over your shoulders. Rest your hands on your knees or on your belly.
Close your eyes. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose (as deep as you can with that limited space), then slowly release that breath through your nose or mouth. Take as many breaths here as you like. This pose will help develop a sense of calmness and relaxation, as well as a connection with your breath and baby.
8 Table Top Pose. Bharmanasana.
This pose is great throughout pregnancy but really becomes important later in pregnancy. Come onto your hands and knees then stack your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Look down at the floor just in front of your fingers or let your head hang. Breathe in and out through your nose.
This is a great pose when baby gets big and heavy in your belly because it uses gravity to create a little more space for breath and can relieve pressure or pain in your hips and back as well. It also helps to encourage baby into the proper position for birth so it’s a great one to practice regularly as you approach the end of your term.
7 Cat and Cow Tilts. Marjaryasana and bitilasana.
Marjaryasana and bitilasana. These two poses are usually practiced together as a fluid movement that flows with breath. Begin in tabletop, breath in and tilt your sitting bones up, sink your belly down, lift and broaden your collar bones and look up (cow belly).
Then as you exhale tuck your tail bone under and try to round your back up, press into your palms and lift up between your shoulder blades, let your head hang heavy (cat pose). Continue to flow back and forth between these two poses with your breath. Doing this gentle flow helps to open up your hips and lower back while using gravity to your advantage to relieve that uncomfortable pressure towards the end of pregnancy.
6 Forward Fold. Uttanasana.
Forward fold can be another great release for your hips and back during pregnancy but it should be practiced with caution. If you are not used to folding forward definitely use some blocks or a chair under your hands for steadiness and support. Step your feet wider than hip-width apart and bend into your knees.
With a straight back hinge from your hips and fold forward. Bring your hands onto your blocks or chair. Finally, let your head hang. As you breathe in forward fold try to fill up and stretch out your back with the inhale and allow your body to relax with the exhale. Stay for a few breaths and when coming up be very slow. Rise up halfway first to bring your head and heart to the same level and pause there. Then slowly come up the rest of the way. This pose will release and relax the tension in your upper back and shoulders.
5 Supported Bridge Pose. Setu Bandhasana.
Unlike the previous poses, this gentle backbend is best to practice in the first two trimesters. Lie down on your back step your feet as close to your sitting bones as possible. Press your arms and feet down to lift your hips up. Try to draw your tailbone under slightly and disperse your weight evenly in your feet. Lift your chest up towards your chin. Breath in and out through your nose.
This active variation is a great pose to help build some strength and stability for your hips and lower back which you will need as your baby belly grows and becomes heavier. Once the belly is heavier or if you need a more relaxing practice, place a yoga block under your sacrum (lower back) and rest your hips on in.
4 Yogi Squat. Malasana.
Squatting is arguably the most important thing you can do during pregnancy. It opens your hips and lower back as well as your pelvic floor. Step your feet a bit wider than your hips. Turn your toes out and your heels in. Bring your hands to your hips slowly bend your knees and squat your hips down between your heels so that your sitting bones are hovering over the floor.
If your heels lift up try stepping your feet a little bit wider and/or roll up a mat or towel under your heels. You may also want to sit your hips right onto a yoga block so you are more able to relax into the pose, especially later in pregnancy. Opening your hips will help you with labor and delivery but it will also helps to release emotions.
3 Legs Up The Wall.
Legs Up The Wall. Viparita Karani. “Legs up the wall pose” is a restorative posture that helps to relieve swelling that can build up in the feet and legs. It is also naturally calming for the nervous system and helps with insomnia.
The best way to practice this while pregnant is to put a pillow on the floor in front of your couch. Then lie on the pillow so that it is under your lower back and your sittings bones as close to the couch as possible. Then put your feet and calves up on the couch so that there is about a 90-degree bend in your knees. Relax here as long as you are comfortable. This pose might become uncomfortable as your baby and belly grow big.
2 Child’s Pose. Balasana.
Begin on your hands and knees with your knees wider than hip-width and big toes touching. Sit your sitting bones down to your heels and crawl your hands forward. Take a breath in and try to lengthen your waist. Then bow your forehead down to the floor or to a firm pillow.
This pose may not work for every belly during the later stages of pregnancy, but there are some modifications you can take. Child’s pose is a wonderful hip, back, and shoulder opener. It is a great meditation position and a nice place to quiet mind, body, and breath.
1 Reclined Bound Angle. Supta Baddha Konasana.
This is another restorative position that may become less comfortable as pregnancy progresses (but, really, what doesn’t?). For this one it is best to use a bolster or a firm narrow pillow or even a rolled up blanket. Sit down and place that bolster, pillow, or rolled blanket lengthwise at your lower back. Lie down onto it so that it supports your entire back and your head.
If it is more comfortable add another pillow under your head so it is more elevated. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together, then let your knees fall out wide. If this feels too straining for your inner thighs or hips put blocks or pillows under your thighs or knees for support. Stretch your arms down by your sides. Take slow, full breaths in and out through your nose and relax your body completely.