Yoga is a great tool for reducing stress and staying fit during pregnancy. It is safe, as long as you choose asanas (poses) that are suitable for pregnancy. Yoga can even make pregnancy, childbirth, and post-labor recovery easier. There are many benefits to practicing prenatal yoga, including tension relief around the cervix and birth canal, relieving the symptoms of morning sickness, easing mood swings, and opening the pelvis for easier delivery.
If you would like to try pregnancy yoga, be sure to choose poses designed for safety in your specific trimester. Here are some tips:
Both the Half and Full Butterfly Poses are safe during this trimester. These positions loosen the hips and knee joints, as well as tension in the inner thighs. In a sitting position on the floor, bend your knee or knees and gently pull your feet toward your lap. The Half Butterfly (one leg) eases delivery and the Full Butterfly (both legs) relieves digestive disorders and relieves strain on the spine.
The Chopping Wood Pose is done in a squatting position with the feet flat on the floor. Raise your arms as high as possible and then make a downward stroke while expelling breath. This asana strengthens pelvic muscles and loosens the pelvic girdle.
Another safe asana for the first trimester is the Cat Stretch Pose. This pose improves flexibility, while also toning the reproductive system. It is safe up until month six of pregnancy.
The Flapping Fish Pose is performed on the stomach with one leg bent at the knee. This pose relieves constipation, relaxes the legs, and redistributes excess weight. It is also helpful for promoting sleep.
The Squat and Rise Pose is great for strengthening the muscles in the uterus, thighs, and middle back, which is ideal for pregnancy. The pose begins in a standing position and slowly lowers into a deep squat.
The Hand Raising Pose is simple and effective. In a standing position, reach forward and cross your hands. Raise them above your head and look up to your hands. Exhale and slowly lower your arms outward to shoulder level, and then repeat. This asana improves blood circulation and boosts oxygen supply to the brain, helping to relieve that foggy feeling known as “pregnancy brain” many women experience.
Some poses that were used in the first and second trimesters are still the best options for this final phase of pregnancy. Third trimester women can still do the Half Butterfly and Full Butterfly Poses. Both are great for relieving lower body tension and preparing the body for labor and delivery.
The Sleeping Abdominal Stretch Pose is also ideal for removing stiffness in the spine. Lie on your back, bending your knees and slowly twisting at the waist, dropping the knees to the floor on the side of your body. After several deep breaths, raise the legs together and slowly swing to the other side.
If you are suffering from sore feet or ankles from supporting the additional weight of pregnancy, or you are experiencing poor circulation, the Ankle Crank is a helpful move. Bend your leg at the knee and rest the ankle on the opposite knee. Holding your toes, slowly rotate the foot in small circles at the ankle.