Okay, the cat is finally out of the bag… we’re expecting baby #2 in September! I totally was not expecting to have two so close together, but what a humbling experience to realize that the Universe really has a plan for us beyond what I had ever imagined! It’s been interesting chasing after a toddler and watching my belly grow bigger… and bigger… and bigger…
Because I’m carrying around extra weight I desperately need lower back and hip relief at the end of every day. Yoga is one my favorite forms of exercise, stress relief and centering. Even though there are some poses you can’t do during pregnancy due to to the pressure they can put on your abdomen, there are still a lot of poses that are perfect for this time of life that can be extremely helpful for preparing for birth, connecting back in with your breath, and tapping into your feminine strength at the end of a hard day.
Here is a list of my top five (actually, six) favorite yoga poses for pregnancy:
Hip OpenersI will preface this by saying that later in my first pregnancy I had a lot of trouble with hip openers because my hips were already open enough, thank you very much. And I certainly didn’t need to push it. However, up until about 35 weeks or so, hip openers were my saving grace. In particular, they helped me deal with restless leg syndrome during the night.
I LOVE this pose. It took me a while to get used to it because at first at can be hard to find the right placement of your body, so the pose feels kinda awkward. But with some practice, pigeon has become one of my favorites. It’s the ultimate hip opener. It stretches the front, sides and backs of your thighs, lengthening one leg while opening and stretching the other. When your belly is still small you can end this pose by laying over your front leg and resting your head on your knee or the floor (if you’re that flexible). As your belly grows you may be more comfortable stretching your torso up and raising your head to the sky. This feels just as good.
Squats: Garland Pose (Malasana) and…
Squats are great for opening your hips. Garland is awesome because it’s totally relaxing and centering. If I don’t plan on doing a full yoga routine but I need a good stretch, I often settle into Garland just to release tension in my hips and my lower back. Generally you would have your hands together at your heart chakra, but I love how she’s connecting with her baby in this picture… I think I’ll do that next time.
Goddess Pose (Utkana Konasana)
Goddess Pose is also great because it’s an active pose – you are strengthening your thighs, opening your hips, and opening your chest all the same time. Actually, Goddess is more of a workout, so you really have to remember your breathing on this one. Push yourself, see if you can hold it for three breaths longer each time you try it.
Restorative PosesRestorative Poses help relieve stress and are designed to balance out your body and mind. They also bring your nervous system back into equilibrium. If nothing else, try out a restorative pose at the end of the day and you’ll find a level of relaxation you didn’t even know possible. Just remember to focus on your breathing… this is where the relaxation comes from… plus, it increases your circulation, which is really important during pregnancy.
Child’s Pose (Garbhasana)
This is kind of a go-to for every pregnant mom. Even if you don’t practice yoga, you may find yourself in some variation of this pose at the end of the day because it relieves tension in the lower back and hips, while helping to release the stress of the day. By actively stretching your arms out across the floor or mat you get a nice stretch between your shoulder blades as well. Just make sure to spread your knees further and further apart as the belly grows…
Legs Up The Wall (Viparita Karani)
Here is an example of an inversion that is safe during pregnancy and can help reduce the risk of preeclampsia by reversing your blood flow direction. It’s also amazing for reducing swelling in your feet at the end of the day and helping you fall asleep during those frustrating insomnia nights. You’ll probably want to try this pose with a pillow or bolster under your hips, letting your butt hang off the pillow. Add a well placed lavender-scented sleep mask and you might just fall asleep!
Corpse pose (Savasana)
Kind of a morbid name, so I prefer to just call it “savasana”. This pose is the last you’ll do at the end of your practice. Just like the other restorative poses, this one balances out your energy, your body, and your mind. Once you get to the third trimester you’re going to want to do this one laying on your left side with a pillow between your knees. If you lay on your back after his point you run the risk of putting pressure on the main vein that brings blood to your heart and to the baby. Better to complete your practice in a way that will increase circulation, not decrease it! You can also put a bunch of pillows under your head and back so you’re not laying flat (like in this picture). This pose is so relaxing, especially at the end of a strengthening flow practice, you might all of a suddenly wake yourself up snoring!
You can also check out “Top Five Yoga Poses for Parents With Young Children“.