Best Prenatal Yoga Poses

image001Many pregnant women turn to prenatal yoga as a way to stay fit and relax. What many future moms don’t realize, however, is that in addition to helping you relax, prenatal yoga can help improve the health of your baby and even provide some preparation for labor. Before you begin your prenatal yoga routine, try to understand exactly how it will help you and your future baby as well as some tips to keep in mind.

Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

As is the case with other classes for childbirth-preparation, doing prenatal yoga is a multifaceted exercise. It will help encourage focused breathing, mental centering, and stretching. In addition to being completely safe, studies have suggested that prenatal yoga can provide benefits both for you as a pregnant woman and for your baby.

  • Doing prenatal yoga can help improve your sleep and also reduce the anxiety and stress that you are experiencing.
  • It will even help you prepare for childbirth by increasing the endurance, flexibility, and strength of the particular muscles you will use.
  • Yoga can also help reduce joint inflammation and swelling. During pregnancy these are caused by a decrease in blood circulation and water retention. By promoting blood circulation, prenatal yoga can help reduce or even prevent swelling associated with pregnancy, particularly that associated with the hands, feet, and ankles.
  • Prenatal yoga will also decrease shortness of breath, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, nausea, and lower back pain. It can even reduce your risk of going into preterm labor as well as intrauterine growth restriction (which slows the baby’s growth) and pregnancy-induced hypertension.
  • Prenatal yoga can also do wonders in terms of helping you learn to relax and breathe deeply, both of which are crucial during labor and birth and later on during motherhood.
  • In addition to those health benefits, prenatal yoga gives you the chance to meet and form friendships with other women who are pregnant as well as prepare for stress associated with becoming a new parent.

Best Prenatal Yoga Poses

Besides our recommended yoga poses during pregnancy, you can learn more prenatal yoga positions as follows. 

image002Tailor’s or cobbler’s pose (known as baddha konasana) will help open up your pelvis during pregnancy. People who have hips that are loose-jointed should always be sure to ground their sit bones and everyone should use rolled up towels or pillows underneath the knees to prevent hip hyperextension. For this pose, sit up straight leaning against a wall so the bottom of your feet touch each other. Press down gently on your knees so they go down and out but be careful not to force them apart.

image003The Cat-Cow or pelvic tilt will help relieve the back pain associated with pregnancy. For this position start with your hands and knees on the mat and make sure your knees are hip-width apart and your arms are shoulder-width. Keep your arms straight without locking your elbows. Now tuck in your buttocks while rounding your back and breathing in. While breathing out, relax your back so it returns to a neutral pose. Continue this pattern at whatever pace is comfortable for you. 

image004Squatting helps strength your upper legs and opens your pelvis. Over time you will need to use props to rest your buttocks on but keep your breathing deep and try to relax. Start facing a chair back with your feet a bit farther apart than hip-width apart and your toes pointing outward. Hold onto the chair, contracting your abdominal muscles, relaxing your shoulders and lifting your chest. Slowly lower yourself as if you were going to sit in a chair and keep your weight mostly on your heels. Exhale while rising back up to standing.

The side-lying pose is good as a final step. Lie down on one of your sides and rest your arm on a blanket or your head. Give your hips support by putting a blanket roll or body pillow between your legs.

Other good poses to try during pregnancy include Warriors I and II and Tree as they improve balance and help strengthen joints. Downward-facing dog isn’t ideal for the third trimester but before that it can help energize your body.

Prenatal Yoga Routine: Relax Yourself During Pregnancy and Relieve Hip and Back Pain at the Same Time

Prenatal Yoga Episode 1 and 2: Great Way to Stay in Shape During Pregnancy


Tips on Practicing Prenatal Yoga

1. For the First Trimester

Always try to find a yoga instructor who trained for prenatal yoga but if you can’t, tell your yoga instructor that you are pregnant. Although you won’t have many restrictions yet, remember to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated. Always breathe regularly and deeply whenever you are stretching and keep in mind that normal positions will require adjustments. The most important thing is to listen to your body and adjust if you are uncomfortable.

2. For the Second Trimester

During the second trimester your joints will begin to loosen so you have to be cautious. Your sense of balance will also be off because of your growing size. Never try to hold poses for too long and always enter them slowly. You should also avoid lying down flat on the back as your blood needs to keep flowing to your uterus.

3. For the Third Trimester

Usually at this point your balance will be off by a lot so you should do standing poses while holding onto something or leaning your foot against a wall for support. You can also use straps or blocks to help you get through different poses and maintain your stability. Remember never to hold the poses for long and instead keep moving.

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