These 4 Prenatal Yoga Poses Are A Must-Try For Expectant Moms
Pregnancy can be a weird time for both your body and your mind. It makes things that used to feel totally normal suddenly feel completely impossible (like, ahem, painting your toenails — or NOT crying over every song you hear), and some calming movement can go a long way toward alleviating both physical and mental discomfort. Prenatal yoga is a great option for mamas-to-be who just want a little way to release some tight muscles, reduce back and hip pain, and breathe a sigh of relief.
But not just any yoga pose will do! Many of my favorite pregnancy poses have been no-nos since I got pregnant (read: most twists, as well as anything that requires lying on your back after the first trimester). Emily Skye, a fitness trainer and mom of two, broke down the yoga poses she recommends for expectant moms, and the necessary modifications for pregnancy.
Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Downward dog can help with low back pain, as well as stretch your calves to help fight those annoying Charlie horse cramps that creep up as pregnancy progresses. But to do downward dog during pregnancy, you have to keep your legs wide enough to give your belly plenty of room. Here are Emily's notes on this position:
How to do this pose: Start off on all fours and make sure your knees are slightly behind your hips. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart and spread your fingers out wide. Press your hands into the mat and gently tuck your toes under and take a deep inhale, then keeping your hands pressed into the mat, exhale deeply, lifting your knees off the floor and straightening your legs as much as you can.
Pregnancy modification: Widen your feet a bit to make room for your baby bump. Many moms have their feet as wide as the mat or even a bit wider so that the forward fording action of downward dog doesn’t compress the belly and make things uncomfortable.
Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
Happy baby pose can feel amazing on the hips, but after the first trimester, it's not recommended to lie on your back during pregnancy. Doing so can put pressure on the inferior vena cava, a vein that plays an important role in transporting blood between you and your baby. Not to worry, Emily has a modification for that!
How to do this pose: Prior to pregnancy (or during your first trimester, if it feels comfortable), begin by lying on your back. With an exhale, bend your knees into your belly. Inhale, grip the outsides of your feet with your hands, or loop a strap or belt over each foot. Open your knees slightly wider than your torso, then bring them up toward your armpits. Position each ankle directly over the knee, so your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Flex your feet. Gently push your feet up into your hands (or a belt) as you pull your hands down to create resistance.
Pregnancy modification: Lower into a squat position, knees and feet outside your hips, and take a deep breath.
Child Pose (Balasana)
Another fantastic position for reducing back pain, child's pose is also great for stretching the hamstrings. Not much modification is needed for this one, so just make sure your knees are wide enough to allow room for your growing belly.
How to do this pose: Start off on all fours and make sure your knees are as wide as your mat. Keeping the tops of your feet on the floor, bring your belly to rest between your thighs and root your forehead to the floor if it can reach. Relax the shoulders, jaw, and eyes. Stretch your arms in front of you with the palms toward the floor.
Pregnancy modification: Focusing on relaxing the face and breathing deeply into the back.
Cat-Cow (Bitilasana Marjaryasana)
When I started getting pregnancy sciatica during my second trimester, cat-cow was one of the poses my midwife recommended I try. It can help "juice up" the spine and provides a nice big space for the belly to descend... and it just plain feels great!
How to do this pose: Start off on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips. Point your fingertips to the top of your mat and place your shins and knees hip-width apart. Center your head in a neutral position, and soften your gaze downward and drop your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, and gaze up toward the ceiling. Exhale and round your back toward the ceiling.
Pregnancy modification: Keep your neck and shoulders in a neutral position and let your hips take the lead on the movement by drawing your tailbone up and down.
Emily Skye is a mother of two, strength training expert and the face of emilyskyefit.com and Emily Skye FIT, the digital fitness app that helps women worldwide build strength and confidence, stay active through pregnancy and rebuild post-pregnancy. Emily holds a Certificate IV in Fitness and Master Trainer qualification from the Australian Institute of Fitness.
An important reminder: Always consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program, as there are some situations where exercise may not be advised. This information should be used as a guide only and should not replace the advice of your medical practitioner. Check with your doctor if you are unsure.
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