Remember to always listen to your body when performing any type of yoga. If a particular pose is causing more bad pain then good, do not practice that posture until you have consulted a doctor or licensed yoga practitioner. In fact, we do not recommend that you perform any of these poses beyond your first trimester without consultation.
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- Pelvic Tilts: This exercise is a great release for the lower back. Since it does not cause extensive strain to the abdominals, it is an ideal pose for prenatal yoga. If you are not comfortable lying on your back, try your pelvic tilt while standing against a wall.
- Ustrasana (Camel Pose): This is a suitable stretch for the first trimester or two of your pregnancy. As you move into the third stage, we recommend that you instead come into this posture from a seated position. Find a gentle opening in the front of your thighs and chest by placing your hands behind you for support.
- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose): A gentle backbend can do a lot of good during pregnancy. This pose can open the chest, stimulate the thyroid, strengthen the spine and keep it flexible!
- Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall): This mild inversion is great for swollen ankles. You may try placing your legs in different positions, rather than keeping them straight. Try to take a few deeps breaths with your legs straight, then bend your knees and touch the soles of your feet together, as in Bound Angle. Hold and take a few more deep breaths. To increase the angle of inversion, place a few folded blankets on the floor where it meets the wall.
- Cat-Cow Stretch: Since this posture requires you to be on all fours, it puts the baby into optimal position. Cat-Cow also increases spinal flexibility and abdominal strength, and helps relieve back pain, a common problem during pregnancy.
- Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose or Cobbler’s Pose): A wonderful hip opener, this sitting pose can be performed freely or with your back against a wall. If you wish to modify it, try the reclined version, Supta Baddha Konasana (Goddess Pose), by supporting the spine with a bolster or folded blankets. To avoid hyperextension of your hips, place support under your knees.
- Virabhadrasana I & II (Warrior I & II): These two poses help improve your balance and strengthen your joints. Being standing poses, they are great for building leg muscle and reducing inflammation and swelling in the knees and ankles. In addition, Warrior I & II can also ease back pain and symptoms of sciatica.
- Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose): Another standing pose, the extended triangle is also useful in reducing the swelling and inflammation that results from pregnancy. In addition, it stretches the groin, hamstrings and hips, and opens up the chest and shoulders.
- Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose): In order to extend the spine properly, your pelvis should be square and your sit bones even throughout this stretch. If you have constant neck or shoulder problems, do not perform Cow Face unless cleared by a doctor. This pose helps build muscles of the upper back and relieve discomfort from the additional weight in your breasts. If you are not able to hook your fingers together, modify this pose by holding a strap between your hands.
- Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose): Half Moon will help you maintain balance and clarity as your body goes through some rather dramatic changes. Plus, it will help strengthen the ankles and thighs to support the extra weight of your growing baby. If you feel unsteady, this pose should be performed with the help of a wall or block.
- Squatting: Daily squatting can strengthen your upper legs as well as relax and open the pelvis, conditioning it for childbirth. If this exercise becomes too difficult as your baby grows, we recommend that you use blocks or several, stacked books on which to rest your bottom.
- Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One-Legged Pigeon Pose): This asana is a remarkable hip opener, making room to expand the chest and shoulders as well. The sequence of Downward Facing Dog to One-Legged Pigeon allows an optimal stretch to your groin, thighs and back. Make liberal use of props during this pose to keep from pulling anything.
- Vrksasana (Tree Pose): The most significant prenatal benefit of Vrksasana is its ability to improve one’s sense of balance. Moreover, it can strengthen your joints, reduce flat feet, and stretch the groin and inner thighs. If you feel unsteady, perform this pose initially with your back braced against a wall.