Did you know that prenatal yoga can help moms-to-be stay in shape? Yoga works to decompress tension in the back, hips, neck and shoulders to help reduce pain and discomfort that can arise throughout your pregnancy. Additionally, meditation and breathing exercises are great tools to help reduce stress and help you stay calm during labor.
Below are six yoga poses and modifications that are safe and beneficial for pregnancy.
Triangle pose is a beneficial prenatal pose by strengthening the core, opening the hips, as well as stretching legs and shoulders. A great way to engage your entire body – safely!
Here’s how to modify: Place your block behind your right foot. Raise your arms to shoulder height. Extend all four limbs and extend your torso. Keeping this extension, place your right fingertips or hands on the block. Repeat on the left side.
Arm Extension in Hero Pose
Performing Heroine pose is a great way to relieve swelling and alleviate tired legs by stretching the thighs, knees and ankles gently. It’s important to be extra gentle with your body during pregnancy to ensure you’re not over-stretching certain areas, which is why incorporating the bolster is an ideal prenatal modification.
Here’s how to modify: Sit on a block or bolster with feet by outer hips. Toes point toward the back of the mat.
This is a great stretch, especially for pregnant women with back pain. Downward dog decompresses the spine, while stretching arms, shoulders, and legs. Using the chair helps you get the full spinal stretch and decompression, while also working more into the arm and shoulder stretch – safely.
Here’s how to modify: Put a chair against the wall. Place your palms and fingers on the chair seat, walk your feet back (about four feet, but play around with what feels best for your body) and hinge at the hips to create a shape similar to the traditional Down Dog. Keep your arms and legs straight. Extend your torso completely, and breathe deeply.
Gentle Spinal Twist
When deep twists are replaced with a gentle chair twist during your pregnancy, it helps you maintain normal spinal rotation and also reduce back pain.
Here’s how to modify: Sit in a chair facing forward and then shift your legs and torso to face the right edge of the chair. From there, twist your torso further to the right and place both hands on the back of your chair. Take a deep inhale, and with your exhale, gently turn your head to gaze over your right shoulder. Hold briefly and then slowly come back to center. Repeat on the left side.
To keep legs healthy from varicose veins, blood clots, and swelling ankles and feet, pregnant women should regularly elevate their legs to keep blood circulating as well as relieve pressure and weight off their legs.
Here’s how to modify: Place folded blankets or a bolster under your buttocks and your calves on a chair (or couch). Your mid back, shoulder, neck and head are resting on the ground. Tuck your shoulders under. Allow your arms to spread into a “T” position, palms facing up, and rest.
Savasanas are especially beneficial for moms-to-be, allowing them time to calm their busy brains, relax, and help subside stress hormones.
Here’s how to modify: Stack two bolsters (or the equivalent of blankets) on a mat. Stagger the top bolster so that it is slightly apart from the lower bolster – like a small step. Lay down over the bolsters and put a blanket beneath your head. Adjust the height of the blanket as needed so that your forehead is higher than your chin. Relax your entire body. Breathe softly and smoothly. Stay in the pose for 5 minutes or longer, and come out slowly.