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Ease Your Pregnancy with These 7 Relaxing Prenatal Yoga Poses

Tara Mestre
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Congratulations mommy-to-be! How are you feeling? Maybe a little tired? Hang in there – you are doing great! This is a very exciting time for you but also a time where self-care is essential. Your body is changing tremendously and needs every opportunity to rest and restore to help your baby grow.
 
Every system in your body – such as the skeletal, cardiovascular and endocrine system – is changing. Your hair, skin, blood flow and even breathing changes with pregnancy.
 
For support and inspiration during this process, read 8 Ways to Cope With Your Changing Body During Pregnancy. With these changes, it is extremely important to set aside time to stay relaxed and connected to your transforming body and mind.
 

Throughout my pregnancy, my yoga practice helped keep me relaxed and my stress levels down, prepared me for labor, and allowed me to stay connected to myself

 
Yoga can help you feel more connected to your body and more in tune with the daily changes. Yoga helps us become more aware of our changing bodies, and also helps us remain calm and relaxed. This will help you not only throughout your pregnancy, but during your labor as well. And when it comes to aches, pains and discomfort, yoga can help alleviate these too. ☺
 
My pregnancy + prenatal experience
Personally, I have practiced yoga for years and had already established a strong connection with my body. When I became pregnant with my son, I was not prepared for what would physically occur to my body. So, I turned to my yoga practice to help me through some of the changes within my mind and body.
 
Throughout my pregnancy, my yoga practice helped keep my stress levels down, prepared me for labor, allowed me to stay connected to myself, and also helped me stay relaxed.
 
This article highlights my favorite prenatal yoga poses that helped me stay calm and connected throughout my pregnancy. These poses will help you do the same so you can stay as comfortable as possible during your pregnancy journey.
 

Here are 7 prenatal yoga poses to keep you calm and relaxed throughout your pregnancy:

 
 

1. Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

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Legs Up the Wall is one of the most effective yoga poses to relieve stress, water retention and sleeplessness by helping to calm your nervous system.
 
It is advised not to lie flat on your back (especially in the second and third trimester), so a quick modification will help you stay safe. If you are well into your third trimester and find it more difficult to use a wall, a chair will also give you great benefits.
 
Let’s try it:

  • Grab a bolster or pillow
  • Begin in a fetal position with your hips as close to the wall or chair as possible
  • Place the bolster or pillow lengthwise behind your back
  • Gently roll onto the bolster or pillow and extend your legs on the wall or rest them on the chair
  • Adjust your hips closer to the wall or chair if that provides more comfort
  • Be sure the bolster or pillow is keeping your torso slightly elevated (this is the modification to keep you safe)
  • Extend your arms out wide, by your hips, or resting on your growing belly
  • Place an eye pillow or towel over your eyes to invite your senses to go inward
  • Feel free to add relaxing music or simply focus on your breath
  • Stay here for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Slowly roll back to a fetal position when you are ready to release

 
 

2. Child’s Pose with wide-legged variation (Balasana)

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Child’s Pose is an extremely grounding posture to really invite you to connect to your breath. Child’s Pose can help open the chest, lengthen the spine, and gently open the hips to prepare for labor. Practicing a wide-legged variation of Child’s Pose will accommodate your growing belly.
 
Let’s try it:

  • Begin in Table Top Pose on your mat with a pillow or bolster close by
  • Bring your big toes together and your spread knees as wide as your yoga mat
  • Slowly relax your hips onto (or towards) your heels and extend your arms towards the front of your mat
  • Feel free to rest your forehead on a pillow or “hug” the bolster for more support
  • Use this opportunity to deepen and connect to your breath. Or maybe you take this opportunity to talk to your growing baby

 

3. Seated Piriformis Stretch

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A large percentage of women experience sciatic pain or discomfort during their pregnancy. This can be caused by your changing lumbar spine or the added pressure on your sciatic nerve from your growing baby. A great stretch for sciatic pain is a seated piriformis stretch, which helps loosen tightness deep within the muscles of the buttocks. This is essentially a standing Figure Four Pose, but using a chair for added support.
 
Let’s try it:

  • Begin seated on a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the ground and your back straight
  • Place your right ankle on your left knee and keep your right toes flexed to protect your knee joint
  • Inhale to lengthen your spine
  • Exhale and slowly lean forward with a straight back until you feel the stretch
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat as needed
  • Switch sides

 

 

4. Yogi Squat (Malasana)

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Practicing Yogi Squat earlier in your pregnancy can help prep the hips because it is essentially a birthing position. However, it’s important to note that when you are late in your third trimester, squatting can induce labor.
 
Keep in mind that during pregnancy, you produce a hormone called Relaxin which makes you more flexible, so use caution when you practice opening postures like Yogi Squat.
 
Let’s try it:

  • Begin standing on your mat with your feet as wide as your mat
  • Slowly bend the knees and squat down
  • Place your hands in prayer position in front of your chest
  • Invite your elbows to gently push into your inner thighs to help you open the hips and lift your chest
  • Focus on a straight spine, lifted chest and relaxing your tailbone down towards the mat
  • Sit on block or two for a helpful modification that invites more restoration
  • Remain here for 5 to 10 deep and connected breaths. Your breath is important here to allow your body to relax and release the tension
  • To release, place your hands onto the mat and slowly lift your hips coming into a Forward Fold

 
 

5. Cat/Cow Pose (Marjaryasana and Bitilasana)

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The sequence created with Cat Pose and Cow Pose is a great way to gently tone your abdominals, keep your spine supple, and gently tone your arms. This sequence is also a great way to prepare your baby to be in the proper position for labor. Moms-to-be will find this pose extra relaxing, as it invites full use of the breath and stretches the chest and back.
 
Let’s try it:

  • Begin in Table Top Pose with your shoulders directly above your wrists and your hips above your knees
  • As you inhale, find Cow Pose by gently lifting the chest and gazing skyward to create a natural and gentle bend in the spine
  • As you exhale, find Cat Pose by rounding your spine, drawing the belly inward (be gentle with your baby belly) and gazing toward your navel
  • Repeat this sequence as you focus on your breath
  • Feel free to pause in either pose if it feels good to stretch for another breath
  • Release to Child’s Pose with a wide-leg variation (see #2) when complete

 
 

6. Gentle Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

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Low back pain is one of the most common discomforts from pregnancy. Standing Forward Fold is a simple yet effective pose to help decompress the spine and find relief.
 
Be sure to keep this stretch gentle, as you don’t want to compress your belly. Gravity is your best friend in this pose, so simply breathe and allow this yoga pose to help you find relief and relaxation.
 
Let’s try it:

  • Begin standing with your feet wider than your hips
  • Bring a gentle bend into your knees
  • Slowly fold forward as you bend at the waist
  • Once you reach your comfort zone, place your hands on blocks, let your hands rest on the mat or grab opposite elbows with your hands. A gentle sway from side to side may help you find more relief
  • Allow your head and upper body to be as relaxed as possible to invite your back body to slowly stretch
  • Remain for a few breaths
  • To release, slowly come back to standing or make your way to Child’s Pose with a wide-legged variation and take a few breaths

 
 

7. Easy Pose (Sukhasana) with breathwork

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Easy Pose (or “criss-cross applesauce” to get you in mommy-mode) has many benefits. Pregnancy changes every aspect of your body and your mind, which makes it difficult to connect to your body. Easy Pose is an opportunity to sit in stillness and silence and connect more to your transforming self.
 
Let’s try it:

  • Find a yoga prop such as a bolster, block, blanket or pillow
  • Sit cross-legged on your mat and place your yoga prop of choice under your buttocks to elevate your hips and relieve any pressure in the knees or hips
  • Rest your hands on your belly or in your lap
  • To help balance your mind and body, practice Alternate Nostril Breathing
  • To help calm your mind, practice a simple meditation
  • To help you feel and stay grounded, choose a mantra that fits your needs for that day or week. Then repeat your chosen mantra to yourself on each inhale
  • Stay in Easy Pose as long as you feel comfortable

 
 
Remember that feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious and scared are common during pregnancy. But a daily yoga practice and a self-care routine will help you stay calm and relaxed during this exciting time. Take the time not only for yourself, but for your baby as well. Namaste mommies to be!
 
This article and all included information is not intended as medical advice and does not treat or diagnose. Please consult your doctor for any health-related questions or concerns before practicing these poses.
 

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Tara Mestre

Having swapped city life for rural living in northern Spain, Tara is first time mama, a seasoned yoga aficionado, and is passionate about yoga, women's wellness, and holistic living. She is a firm believer in self-care, incorporating yoga and essential oils into her daily routine. Connect with her on Instagram @yogimamalove or join her women's group on FB @yogimamalove.

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