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Yoga Stretches for Pregnancy – Feel Better Now!

June 7, 2010

When you are pregnant, sometimes it can feel like there just isn’t enough room inside for the both of you.  These yoga stretches will help to create space inside your body so that you can move about with more ease throughout your day.  Doing a few stretches in the morning and before bed will greatly enhance your physical well-being.  So let’s get started…

To Begin… Center Yourself.  Sit quietly for a few moments, feel yourself breathing, let your mind settle and feel your body.   Then let your awareness drift down to your baby and spend a minute or so connecting with them in whatever way feels good to you.

Now let’s start moving…

1. Crescent Moon :

Crescent Moon

This is a great warm-up stretch.  Breathe into the side of your body where you feel the stretch.

Follow-up this stretch with some warm-ups for your shoulders (shoulder rolls) and neck (rolling your head from side to side).

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2. Goddess Pose

Goddess Pose

Squatting in pregnancy is an excellent way to tone your pelvic floor as well as your legs and buttocks muscles.

In this pose, remember to keep your low back long by slightly tucking your tailbone.

And finally it’s about embodying the Goddess, Mother Earth… so connect with your inner spirit of creation.

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3. Standing Spinal Twist

Standing Spinal Twist

This twist feels SO good for your back.

From the goddess pose, simply bring your hands to your knees and then let one shoulder drop as you look over the opposite shoulder.

Breathe nice and deep.

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4. Split Leg Forward Fold

Split Leg Forward Fold

The Split Leg Forward Fold is an awesome stretch and release for your lower back.

If you have troubles with your sciatic area, then slightly turn your toes inward to bring a deep stretch to the area at the top of your buttocks.  Otherwise, keep the toes pointed straight forward.

This is a slight inversion, so you may notice a feeling of a lot of blood in your head.  Looking at the floor rather than letting your head hang with help with this.

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5.  Tree Pose

Prenatal Tree Pose Pregnancy Yoga Tree Pose is a wonderful balancing posture for pregnancy.

Balancing will help to strengthen the connection between your mind and body.  In pregnancy your body changes so fast that sometimes your mental image of where your body is in space doesn’t quite keep up.  Hence the reason that you open the fridge and hit your belly.  Balancing helps the mind to feel where the body is in space.

Use your eyes to help you balance by softly gazing at one point in front of you.

Note : It’s best to avoid lateral pressure on knee.  So place your foot over the knee, below the knee or even the toes on the ground if you are really struggling with balance.Prenatal Tree Posture Yoga Pregnancy

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6. Warrior Pose

Warrior Pose

Be Strong… Feel Strong!  This pose is all about feeling the strength of your body.

Root through your feet and extend through the top of your head.  Reach out with your finger tips.

Be sure to keep your bent knee above your ankle, annd not in front or out to the side.

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7. Extended Side Angle

Extended Side Angle

This is a wonderful strengthening and opening stretch.

Make a long line from your top hand down to your toes.

Sink into your hips and breathe deeply into the stretch.

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8. Half Moon

Half Moon

This posture feels wonderful.  It gives the front of your body a chance to really open up.

It’s best to do next to a wall because it is a really tricky posture to balance in.

Focus on opening up the chest and shoulder area and make sure to have a block to rest your bottom hand on.

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9. The Full Squat

Full Squat

The full squat is an excellent pose for opening the groin area.  Be sure to breathe deeply and to direct the breathe down to the vaginal opening.

This position wides and shortens the birth path, making it ideal for birthing.  However you need to strengthen the legs during pregnancy if you wish to use it during birthing.

Note : The full squat is counter-indicated if you have vaginal varicose veins, or if you have past 35 weeks and your baby is breech.

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10.  The Cat – Cow Stretch – Pelvic Tilt

Cat Stretch – pelvic tilt

Pelvic tilts are one of the best things you can do for your body and your back in pregnancy.  They feel soooo good.  This posture should definitely be part of your stretching each and everyday.

Exhale and round.  Inhale and flatten (or if your back permits go further into a gentle arch)

Cow Stretch – pelvic tilt

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11.  The Happy Puppy

The Happy Puppy

Imagine that you have a tail, and like a happy puppy wag it from side to side.  You can do this very slowly or quickly like a puppy.

It makes your back happy!

The Happy Puppy

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12. Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose

Relax in the same position as your baby.  This is a deeply restorative posture and is also an excellent release for the low back.   Be sure to spread your knees apart so there is lots of room for baby.

You can rest your head and chest on a bloster, or you can make two fists and rest your hand on top of your hands.

This pose is about letting go and letting your body rest.

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13. Pidgeon Pose

Pidgeon Pose

Pidgeon pose is a great hip stretch.  This one is especially good for pregnancy as the hips sometimes get quite achy.

If you find that your hips ache at night, then do this one before bed and you’ll sleep much better.

The important thing is this posture is to surrender and allow your muscles to stretch.

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14. Downward Dog

Downward Dog

Downward facing dog is a dynamic stretch for the entire back side of the body.  You will feel a stretch in your arms, shoulders, back, hips, and down the back of your legs and right into your calves.

It’s a good stretch, but very active and takes quite a bit of effort.  Listen to your body and hold the pose only for as long as feels right to you.

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15.  Reclining chest opener

Reclining chest opener

This deep opening posture is a nice compliment to downward dog as it opens the front of the body.

In pregnancy the weight of the baby, belly and breasts can pull the front body closed and make it feel like there is no space between your breasts and belly.

If it is too much for your low back, please bend your knees and be sure to come up out of the posture if you find yourself getting dizzy.

Arms open to the sides in order to stretch the chest and shoulder area. If you don’t have a bolster at home, create one by rolling a blanket into a oval shaped cylinder.

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16.  Seated Twist

Seated Twist

A seated twist is a great finishing pose for your yoga practice.  It’s a lovely release for the spine.

In pregnancy it is VERY important that you always twist into the open space as you can see Kim doing in the photo.   Twisting in the opposite direction would feel bad and would be too squishy for your baby.

Inhale and get taller, exhale and twist more deeply.

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17. Deep relaxation – semi-reclining or side laying

Deep relaxation – semi-reclining position

It is essential to finish your practice with deep relaxation.  It allows both the mind and the body to fully integrate all of the beneficial stretches and strengtheners that you have done.

In addition, learning to relax deeply is a skill that will benefit you greatly during your labour.

I like to think of this as dessert at the end of the yoga “meal”.  It’s feels so wonderful.

Be sure to prop yourself up so that you are in a semi-reclined position which is safe for you and baby at all stages of pregnancy.

However if this position doesn’t feel heavenly, then opt for the side-laying relaxation position.

Side laying relaxation position

If you chose to do the side laying position for relaxation, be sure to support your head and hips with some props.

Stay in deep relaxation for at least 10 minutes and during this time, relax each body part one at a time.  This is also a great opportunity to connect with the baby growing inside you.  Talk to your baby in your heart and share with them how much you love them and any other hopes and dreams you wish to share.

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Finish by blessing yourself and your baby.

Namaste!

ps. Thanks to Kim who provided the impetus to create this post and who agreed to model the postures.  Great job!

If you enjoyed this blog post, you might also like these two articles.

Inner Thigh Exercise for PregnancyYoga Poses and Exercises to Help Ease Pain from Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction

Pubic Symphysis Dysfuction (PSD), sometimes referred to as Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) occurs when the two halves of the pelvis become misaligned.  This happens in pregnancy because the hormones of pregnancy loosen the joint called the pubis symphysis which is normally supported by a dense network of tough tissues called ligaments.  Ligaments are not naturally flexible.  However the hormone relaxin which your body releases in significant amounts during pregnancy softens all tissues including ligaments.  This overall, is a good thing and allows your baby to more easily slip through the bones of the pelvis during birth. Keep Reading

IMG_2916webYoga Postures for Labour and Birth

In my prenatal yoga class, I am often asked if there are specific yoga postures that would be good to do use during labour.   The answer is a resounding yes.  There are quite a few really great yoga postures and movements that bring more comfort and ease to the birthing process.  Here they are!  Keep Reading

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