While every pregnancy is different, it is pretty well established that yoga can be very beneficial for the body while pregnant. Studies show that prenatal yoga not only lowers ones pain and stress levels, but also lowers your chance of having pregnancy complications.
When I was pregnant, I did everything from Sarah Beth’s Prenatal Yoga series on Youtube to heading to a local studio for prenatal yoga. And let me tell you, it was a game changer. The aches, pains and discomfort from pregnancy are NOT easy to endure but I did find a lot of pain relief when I practiced yoga.
Yoga also helped me connect with my body during pregnancy. It helped me slow down, listen for cues, and connect with the little life inside of me.
Yoga instructor Courtney Downey explains it best. “Pregnancy is the most amazing and challenging time for a woman’s body. Our bodies will grow and nurture our babies for nine months, which can take a toll on us. Yoga allows the mom-to-be to not only exercise her muscles, creating the strength she will need during labor and beyond, but also enables her to connect with her breath through pranayama and spirit through meditation, allowing her to relax and be in the moment with her baby—all of which are wonderful tools to utilize during labor.“
So what prenatal yoga poses should you focus on while pregnant? (And remember, always check with your doctor or OB-GYN before starting any new exercise routines while pregnant.)
Yoga instructor Maggie Hayes explains it’s typical to experience low back pain during pregnancy, due to carrying a growing belly and a shift in your center of gravity. “Cat and Cow, often practiced in tandem, help elongate your spine and stretch the back muscles in a safe and supported way,” she explains.
Supported extended side angle
Hayes also recommends a side angle pose. “This is an active pose that will help strengthen your legs and pelvis, while opening the hips and stretching the upper body.” This can help reduce swelling and also increase pelvic floor awareness and strength.
Goddess pose with Lion breath
Downey explains how she walks the expecting mamas through this pose, “I have the ladies do lion breath, where we exhale while sticking our tongues out during Goddess because it helps to release liver energy in the body (excess heat), and it allows the women to embody the Goddess Kali, who is the mother goddess, protector, force of nature.”
This pose is a hip opener which is very important in prenatal to get women ready for labor. Downey elaborates, “While in malasana, I usually have my ladies practice their kegel exercises as well, to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles which will very much help their bodies after they have their babies.”
If you’re interested in starting a prenatal yoga practice, always make sure to clear it with your physician first. It also helps to touch base with your instructor before an in-person class to go over any specific modifications you might need.