Pregnancy is a very special time. As women we get to experience how life starts to develop in our bodies, how it grows stronger and stronger until we give birth to a little human being which is pretty amazing!
Pregnancy can be the most wonderful time and some women go through it without any problems, but most of us will experience a few aches and pains at some stage. This is only natural if we think about how much the body goes through, how it expands and how much room it has to make for the baby!
I did yoga throughout my two pregnancies and I used it not only for relaxation but also to help my body deal with any niggles that would occur – you can read more about my personal experience of pregnancy yoga and why even my husband is a fan (!) here!
So, today I’d like to share 6 yoga poses with you that I found especially beneficial during my pregnancy! They are very gentle but effective stretches which can be done at any stage during pregnancy but if you have any pre-existing injuries or conditions then please do check with your GP before practicing them at home.
As I’m currently not pregnant I have asked my friend Chloe to help me show a few poses that can easily be done even during the later stages of pregnancy. Chloe was 38 weeks pregnant when we took the pictures so no excuses for anyone who thinks they should just be sitting on the couch and eating chocolate in the 3rd trimester – even though that’s probably the most appealing thing right now!
Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is probably one of the most common complaints in pregnancy. Poses like Child’s pose and Pigeon pose can be really beneficial too but I found the best poses to do when I was suffering from lower back ache were twists as they help to keep the spine flexible, strong and mobile.
You might find this pose gets more difficult as your belly grows but even a really gently twist will help to release tension in the muscles around the spine.
Sit in a comfortable cross legged position (you can also sit on a cushion or even a chair), take the right hand to the outside of the left knee, extend the spine upwards and then gently twist yourself towards the left. Inhale and slightly release but lifting the spine upwards, exhale to twist yourself around and deepen the pose. Repeat on the other side
Towards the later stages of pregnancy the legs can get really tired and achy. A lot of women suffer from cramps in their legs and feet so this stretch is a really lovely one to do when you suffer from that. Most yoga teachers advise against doing Downward Dogs after 32-35 weeks of pregnancy and even before that you might find it uncomfortable so this is a variation which won’t make you feel nauseous!
Come to hands and knees, tuck your toes under and extend one leg at a time. Really push through the back heel and feel the stretch along the calve and hamstrings.
Pregnant or not, most of us carry a lot of tension in the shoulders so this pose – Gomukhasana or Cow Faced Pose – can really help to release it. It helps to open up the chest area and is especially useful for anyone sitting at a desk for long periods of time during the day.
Sit in a crossed legged position or on a chair. Take the right hand behind you and in between the shoulder blades. Stretch the left arms up and then take hold of your fingertips or use a belt like Chloe does in the picture. Breathe into the stretch, hold it for 5 breaths and then slowly release. Repeat on the other side.
Shoulder Stretch – Gomukhasana
Rib pain and breathlessness
As the baby grows it takes up more and more room which means your rib cage needs to expand and it also means the lungs are compressed. Side stretches are great to create space in between the ribs which also means more space for the lungs.
Sit cross legged on a cushion or on the floor, extend the right arm up as much as possible before stretching over to the left. Make sure you stay open across the chest and don’t hunch forward. Don’t let the buttocks come off the ground when you’re stretching over. Repeat on the other side.
Hip and pelvis pain
Most women experience at least tension if not pain in the hips and pelvis at some stage during pregnancy. We want to keep this area as free and flexible as possible not only to avoid any pain but also as that’s the way the baby will come out at some stage! Pigeon pose is a great one to keep the hips open and release tension around the pelvis and the groin area.
Start in all fours, take the right knee towards the right wrist and place the foot on the floor close to the left wrist. Move the left leg back as far as you can and have the hips over the center so not leaning to one side or the other. This is a great stretch for the quads, buttock muscles and really opens the muscles in the pelvic region.
Try to stay in this pose for a few minutes slowly breathing in and out through the nose. You will probably find that muscles start to relax a bit further after staying in this pose for a little while. Repeat on the other side
Usually in the third trimester the tiredness, which you might have experienced in the first trimester, starts to kick in again. The baby is getting heavier and heavier and most women are generally exhausted.
Child’s pose is a lovely restorative pose which helps to get the baby’s weight off the spine and you can imagine it safe and snug lying in the tummy like in a hammock!
Start sitting on your heels and take the knees wide apart, keeping the feet together. Stretch the arms forwards and you can rest your forehead on the floor or a big cushion for more comfort. Get your partner to apply a little pressure on the lower part of your sacrum with the heel of one hand and placing the other hand on top. This is a very simple technique but you might find that it feels really good!
I hope you find this useful and you’ll be pleased to know that my friend Chloe gave birth to a beautiful little girl just a few weeks after the photo shoot! Congratulations Chloe, and thank you so much again for your help! xx
What did you think of this post? If you liked it please SHARE the love.