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The 7 Best Prenatal Yoga Poses for Pregnant Women

by Trish Bordeaux

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It’s important, both for your health and that of your baby, to stay active during pregnancy. If you manage at least 3 hours of activity weekly, or 30 minutes a day, as a minimum bar, you will weather the pregnancy and delivery much easier and it will also be a quicker bounce back into shape after birth. 

Look for recommended activities and workouts that are low-impact and help you deal with the many discomforts of pregnancy such as back pain, sore feet and fatigue.

Yoga is an especially great activity for pregnant moms, whether you practice it occasionally or even go on a full yoga retreat. It doesn’t just help you physically, it can also help you relax and quiet down any anxiety you might be feeling. Prenatal yoga is a very popular exercise with expectant moms, precisely because it seems tailored to make your body more comfortable.

Even if you have never done yoga before, now is a great time to start. Your body, and your baby, will thank you.

You don’t even have to learn any advanced yoga techniques. There are many basic poses that are just as beneficial. Here are 7 you can try.

They will help you sleep better, reduce back pain and keep fatigue at bay.

1. Standing side stretch

side stretch pose pregnant lady

Target areas: Shoulders and upper back.

Benefits: Reduces back pain, improves upper body flexibility and reduces shoulder stiffness (especially if you work in an office for most of the day).

How to do it: Stand in the classic mountain pose (Tadasana) with your arms at your sides, your big toes touching each other and your heels slightly spread apart. Raise your arms and interlace your fingers over your head with your index fingers pointing upwards.

Draw an invisible arch with your arms, extending them to your side as far as you can while pushing your hip in the opposite direction. Make sure you keep your arms straight.

Move your arms back to center and stretch to the other direction, holding the pose at maximum range for 30-60 seconds at a time.

You can also try doing this pose while seated (the sitting side stretch).

2. Wide knee child’s pose

child pose wide knee

Target areas: Belly, back and hips.

Benefits: Relieves the pressure of a growing belly, widens your hips (which reduces the risk of complications during birth), relieves back pain and helps lower stress and anxiety.

How to do it: Kneel on a yoga mat making sure your heels are touching your butt and your big toes are touching. Gently lay your chest down and let your forehead touch the mat. Extend your arms straight ahead of you with your palms resting flat on the ground.  

Relax and hold this pose for 3-5 minutes. You’ll immediately notice its restorative effects both for your body and mind.  

A variation of this pose you can try is extending your arms backwards along your sides rather than in front of you.

3. Bound angle pose (Baddha Konasana)

bound angle yoga pose

Target areas: hips, thighs and knees.

Benefits: Opens hips and thighs wider for easier childbirth, eases knee pain, helps with sore or swollen feet and reduces overall body fatigue.

How to do it: Sit on the floor with your legs stretched straight in front of you. Bend your knees and pull your heels closer to your pelvis. Drop your knees sideways as far as they can get. Don’t force them all the way down if your hips are tight. Just try to relax your thighs and hips as much as you can.

With your thighs to the sides and the soles of your feet pressing against each other, try to pull in your heels as much as you can. Then grasp the big toe or ankle of each foot with your hands.

Hold this pose for 1-5 minutes. Repeat it regularly if your hips and groin feel tight. It will improve flexibility and open up your hips.

4. Cat-cow pose (Marjaryasana Bitilasana)

cat cow yoga pose

Target areas: back, belly, hips and shoulders.  

Benefits: Relieves back and shoulder pain, reduces belly pressure and opens up the hips. It also prepares your body for back labor in case it occurs during delivery.  

How to do it: This is one of the simplest yoga poses. It’s especially great in the later trimesters when your belly has grown bigger and feels heavy.

There are two parts to this pose; the cat part and the cow part.

Get on all fours making sure that your hands are straight with your shoulders directly above your wrists. Your thighs between the hips and knees should also be straight.

Start with the cow part. Lower your belly downwards, raise your butt and lift your head. It should look like a big downward curve from your head to your butt. Inhale as you get into this pose.

Hold for a few seconds and then exhale as you create an upwards curve. Draw in your belly as you raise your back upwards and lower your head to look inwards at your belly. This is the cat part of the pose.

Alternate between the two poses as you inhale and exhale.

5. Yoga squat (Malasana)

yogi squat pose

Target areas: belly, hips and pelvis.

Benefits: This is one of the best poses if your hips are feeling too tight. It also helps to widen the pelvis which makes childbirth easier.

How to do it: Sit on the floor with your legs spread out in front of you. Bend your knees upwards one at a time, bringing your foot as close to your butt as possible. The knees should be slightly wider than your shoulder width.

Slowly lift off your butt, putting weight onto your feet and hold that lifted pose for several seconds.

If this feels too strenuous you can also try a supported yoga squat where you sit on a low stool or block.

6. Easy pose (Sukhasana)

sukhasana yoga pose picture

Target areas: back and hips.

Benefits: This is more of a meditation pose. It calms the mind and helps fight stress and anxiety. It’s also great for opening up the hips and reducing lower back pain.

How to do it: Sit on a yoga mat and cross your shins. The soles of your feet should be facing outwards under the opposite leg. Your legs should form a triangle with your crossed shins forming a sort of a straight line.

You can lay your hands on your knees with the palms facing up or down. If you feel uncomfortable, fold a blanket and sit on it.

Hold this pose for as long as you feel comfortable then cross your shins the other way and hold again.

Feel free to try some relaxing meditation.

7. Corpse Pose (Savasana)

corpse pose yoga asana

Target areas:  Your mind.

Benefits: This pose is incredibly relaxing. It’s perfect for meditation when you are feeling stressed or a bit anxious about the pregnancy.

How to do it: Savasana is usually performed by lying on your back. But since that’s not good for your pregnancy, do it while lying on your side.

I recommend using a pregnancy pillow under your head and another under your knees and legs. You can also add another one under your belly if you feel you need more support.

Simply lie down relaxed as if you are in bed. Hold the pose for 3-5 minutes or as long as you want.

Would you like to learn more about practicing yoga during pregnancy, or simply to replenish yourself? Then a prenatal yoga retreat is the ideal getway you need. 

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