Yoga can be an absolute gift to both the mind and body, at all stages of life. When pregnant, it can be even more valuable by helping to create the ultimate connection to self and the tiny human growing inside.
Practice mindfully and with the kind of compassion that you’d be giving to your newborn baby to unlock all the potential that yoga has to offer during your pregnancy.
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7 yoga poses for pregnancy
This prenatal sequence is great for releasing the back and hips. The poses will allow you to ground yourself and connect with your baby, whilst lengthening and stretching your body.
Remember to listen to the body, be gentle and practice patience – you’ll need this in a few months and the years to come.
1. Seated meditation
Grounding and settling into this precious moment; a moment to connect with your breath and baby.
1. Take a comfortable seated posture either cross legs or kneeling.
2. Place one hand on abdomen and the other on heart.
3. Bow your head slightly as if ‘leaning in’ gently (without rounding the spine) and focus on gentle movement of your heart and abdomen with breath. Stay for a good minute or so.
Stretching the lower back, improving digestion and opening the hips and groin. It also acts as the perfect perch to focus on breath and staying present through any discomfort – something that may come in handy during labour.
1. Take feet to the edges of your mat or around shoulder distance apart. Bend your knees and turn your feet out and heels in.
2. Lower tail bone towards the earth and, press elbows into inner knees whilst pressing inner knees into elbows which will breathe more space and sensation at the inner thighs and hips.
3. Press as much of the four corners of your feet into the earth as possible. If heels lift (no worries) place a block under your sit bones for support.
4. Embracing any unfamiliarity, stay and breath 10 breaths. Enjoy the release in your lower back and know that this is a great stretch for your back. To come out of it, lift your hips and, turning your toes in fold forward so that your belly rests between the thighs.
Lengthening the inner thighs, hamstrings and lower back. As always if a sensation feels ‘risky’ (as though you’re about to break something) ease off. But if something just feels ‘interesting’ (like a deep stretch) then stay with the discomfort and breath.
1. Taking a seated posture extend your legs out to the side whilst flexing your feet so that the toes curl up and back towards your shins. Your knees should face the ceiling also. Maintain this kind of activity in the legs the whole time.
2. Take one hand in front of you and one behind and ‘scoot’ your hips forward until you feel that ‘interesting’ sensation in the inner thighs and hips.
3. Take both hands now back behind you and use them to gently tilt the pelvis and hip region forward whilst maintaining length in the spine.
4. Stay here. This could be plenty of sensation already or begin to walk the hands forward (as pictured) if you can do so whilst keeping the spine long. Stay five to ten breaths, focusing now on a longer exhalation.
4. Upavistha with lateral bends
Targeting all those same regions as the upright version as well as the bonus side stretch which targets that hard to reach side waist and lower back region that can get really tight in pregnancy.
1. From an upright upavishta, take a moment to lengthen the spine as you press down into your sit bones.
2. Inhale your right arm up above your head, whilst maintaining the length in your left side waist (imagine that you don’t want to crush the left lung) – so it’s a lifting ‘up and exhaling over’ to the left.
3. Place your left arm of elbow to the inner left leg for support.
4. Your right arm can remain up and outstretched over or bend right elbow to cup back of head with hand and lean back into it as you open the chest skyward. This requires leaning back onto your left sit bone ever so slightly. Stay for 5-10 breaths before coming up and switching sides.
5. Badokanasana or Butterfly Pose
Stretching the back body, neck, inner thighs, hips and groin. It’s pure nectar and perfect for leaning into and listening not only to the beat of your heart but imagining it to be in synch with that of your baby’s. Breath consciously and enjoy.
1. Come up and out of your lateral bend and bend the knees to bring soles of feet together as pictured.
2. Take hands around feet with thumbs at inner blades of feet. Look down and open up your feet as if reading a story book down there. Toes are spread and alive.
3. Inhale to lengthen your spine and broaden your collar bones, exhale to lean forwards, keeping the spine long until you find an ‘edge’ or an ‘interesting’ sensation. From that place, place your elbows into inner thighs and gently encourage them earth-ward.
4. Each inhalation is an opportunity to breath length into the spine and each exhalation to fold or sink. Remember to listen to your body and stay here as long as feels comfortable.
6. Reclined butterfly (supported)
Stretching the chest, shoulders and side waist which all promotes deep and effective breathing. You’ll also start to create more ease and mobility in the hips and groin given the shape of the legs.
1. Setting up blocks (or stacks of books) as pictured and place bolster onto the blocks to create a long sloping and slightly elevated line.
2. Place sit bones at base of the bolster and begin to slowly lower your spine down onto the bolster.
3. Bring soles of feet together and let your knees drip out to the side. If this gets too intense over time you can always place blocks or books under your knees for support.
4. Establish a calm, long and generous breath. When and if it feels comfortable, stretch arms right up above head and grab a hold of your elbows. Stay as long as feels comfortable. 3-5 minutes is ideal.
5. Every time you inhale, visualise breathing right down into your baby, as if nourishing her or him and every time you exhale feel the two of you move a little closer towards each other energetically.
7. Savasana (supported)
Chilling right out! It’s the perfect place and space to relax everything – including the breath and connect with that tiny human. The idea is that we surrender as much of the body as feels comfortable.
From reclined butterfly, without changing the position of the blocks, simply stretch your legs out in front, letting the feet fall out to the side. Allow your hands to drop out to the side and down, palms face up in full surrender.
Relax your breath so that it feels like it moves into a ‘barely breathing’ state.
Calm, relaxed and grounded. Enjoy this state for at least five minutes.
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Kate Kendall is the Co-Founder and Director of Yoga at Flow Athletic. Follow @activeyogi to be inspired to move into more shapes for better wellbeing.