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Prenatal Yoga: Asana for Mama and Her Happy Baby

prenatal yoga

Pregnancy is a miraculous time in any woman’s life, but adjusting to all the changes in your body can cause stress and discomfort. As your baby grows, you may find yourself having aches and pains in places you didn’t even know were possible.

Prenatal yoga is a glorious practice, as it can be adjusted as necessary to accommodate your growing belly.  Each trimester brings something new to a mom-to-be and to the yoga mat. Here are six yoga poses and tips to make the most of each trimester. Not only will they aid in easing some of the discomfort associated with pregnancy, but they will also help you prepare—both mentally and physically—for giving birth.

savasana during pregnancy

Modification isn’t really necessary at this point, so enjoy poses lying on your back or flat on your belly while you still can! Make sure to stay hydrated and always ease into your practice to give your body time to warm up.

1. Corpse pose

Sanskrit: Savasana

Step by Step: Lie on your back with eyes closed. Allow your legs and feet to fall naturally to either side. Use a blanket to elevate the head and neck. Rest your arms at your side with palms facing upward. Begin to relax your muscles, breathing deeply through your nose. To exit, roll gently onto your favorite side. Take two to three breaths; on your last exhalation, press your hands to the floor and sit up.

Benefits: Reduces headaches and insomnia, lowers blood pressure, and relieves stress.

2. Cobra pose

Sanskrit: Bhujangasana

Step by Step: Lie on your stomach with your legs stretched back and the tops of your feet on the mat. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders with elbows hugged in toward the body. Press the tops of the feet, thighs, and pelvis into the mat. Inhale and begin to straighten your arms, raising your chest off the mat, while maintaining contact with the mat through your pelvis and legs. Hold this pose for 15 to 30 seconds and ease down to the floor on an exhalation.

Benefits: Strengthens the spine, reduces fatigue, and relieves sciatica pain and stress.

garland pose during pregnancy

With the second trimester, you’ll notice the baby being more active and your belly growing bigger, which means that poses where you place excessive pressure on your belly are no longer accessible. After 14 weeks, it is not recommended to lay flat on your back for extended periods of time. The weight of your growing uterus can interfere with circulation to your growing baby. The good news—there are still plenty of great poses to give you a gentle stretch and help prepare your body for labor.

1. Garland pose

Sanskrit: Malasana

Step by Step: With your feet hip-distance apart, squat down toward your mat. Try to bring your heels to the floor—or use a blanket to support them. Bring your palms together at heart center. Hold this pose for 30 seconds. Place your hands on the floor to support your weight as you sit down to come out of Malasana.

Benefits: Relieves tension in the hips, lower back, and ankles.

2. Corpse pose

Sanskrit: Savasana

Step by Step: Lie on the side with a block, or folded blanket, to support the head. To support the top of the leg, place either a block or folded blanket in front of the legs. Rest your top leg.

Benefits: Reduces headaches and insomnia, lowers blood pressure, and relieves stress.

3. Chair pose

Sanskrit: Utkatasana

Step by Step: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Bend your knees and sink your hips down, as if lowering yourself to sit in a chair. Keep your back straight and slightly angled forward to accommodate your shifting weight. Sink into the pose as low as your comfort level, balance, and strength will allow. To come out of Chair pose, slowly lower your arms as you straighten your legs to stand.

Benefits: Strengthens the core and opens the chest cavity for deeper breath.

This pose can be done with arms above the head for a stretch in the shoulders, or with arms out in front for greater balance.

cobbler pose during pregnancy

Toward the end of pregnancy, you may feel uncomfortable but be grateful. The light at the end of the tunnel is in sight. Soon you will smile at the face of the little miracle growing inside of you. These seated and standing poses provide relief from any back pain during your pregnancy.

1. Bound Angle pose

Sanskrit: Baddha Konasana

Step by Step: While sitting, bring the feet together and use your hands to bring them as close to the pelvis as you comfortably can. Never force the knees down, but lower them as much as your body will allow. Breathe deeply through the nose. Stay in this restorative pose as long as desired.

Benefits: Lengthens and releases abductor muscles of the groin; stretches the low back and thighs; strengthens the hip flexors and abdominals; stimulates the abdominal organs and digestive system; and relieves system of menstruation and menopause.

2. Warrior II pose

Sanskrit: Virabhadrasana II

Step by Step: Stand on your mat with feet shoulder-width apart. Widen your stance by taking small steps to the side with each foot. Point your front foot forward and turn your back foot out 90 degrees. Inhale and lift the arms to shoulder height. Slowly lunge forward on your front leg and bring the knee to rest directly over the ankle. To exit this pose, slowly straighten your front leg and turn both feet in. Step in until you are standing in Mountain pose. Repeat the pose on the other side.

Benefits: Strengthens the arms, legs, shoulders, and back; stretches the hamstrings, calves, ankles, and shoulders; relieves sciatica, flat feet, and backache; tones the abdominal organs; and creates sense of strength and confidence.

Yoga throughout pregnancy is a healthy way to stay active, relieve stress, and help prepare your body for a successful natural delivery.

Jennifer Landis
Jennifer Landis is a lover of wellness, the written word, being a mom, and yoga. She has practiced yoga since 2005. But, it was not until she became pregnant in 2013 that she discovered the true and wonderful healing properties yoga can provide. Jennifer is an aspiring yoga instructor. She hopes to enroll in her 200-hour teacher training in the coming year, so she can share her passion with all those who share it.
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