Yoga poses for pregnant facilitates the connection of the pregnant woman with her essence and with the sacredness of the process she is experiencing, both during pregnancy and at the time of giving birth. That the future mother practices yoga creates a form of communication with the baby, and helps to live this moment in a conscious, intense and happy way.
Every Woman wants a healthy baby. For this, the health of the mother is also very important. Physical and mental well being of the expectant mother can ensure a healthy baby. Therefore, it is very essential that pre-natal care should include regular Yoga exercises for the pregnant mother. Yoga and Pranayama is a perfect combination that can ensure a smooth pregnancy. Pregnant women should join Yoga classes that are specially designed to ensure well being of pregnant women. These exercises will help giving maternal comfort; eliminate labor pain and facilitate natural childbirth.
For smooth pregnancy, Yoga exercises and meditations can be very helpful. Yoga and Pranayama is a great way to ensure the health of both mother and child. This technique is related with breathing exercises that help to provide an abundant supply of oxygen to both the mother and the baby. These breathing exercises help eliminate stress and relax the body. It even provides physical strength to mother and life force to the baby. Pranayama includes exercises such as Anuloma Viloma, Bhastrika, Nadishodhan, etc..
Other effective Yoga exercises include deep relaxation, Mudras and Meditation. Mudras provide psycho-physical stimulation to the women, which strengthen her reproductive organs. Meditation will resolve conflicts arising in mind and will help the to-be-mother feel the connection with her child. It will also bring down the heart rate, relax the mind – all good for the baby’s health ! Yoga poses help relax, promote well-being, and provides the strength to meet the labor pains and lead an easy pregnancy.
Benefits of Yoga Poses for Pregnant Woman
Normally, during this very special period of her life and her sexuality, a woman feels fear or uncertainty about the possibility of practicing Yoga during pregnancy. On the contrary, Yoga offers a safe practice that ensures good health during pregnancy and childbirth, as well as during the postnatal period.
Certain Yoga postures are designed to maintain the mother’s health and thus avoid the usual discomforts, nausea, constipation, bloating, headache, etc. There are even specific asanas that strengthen the pubic area and the muscles that surround it, so while avoiding prolapse, the mom-yogi exercises her body for the time of delivery.
Yoga asanas ensure proper digestion, circulation and correct breathing. Pranayama is important for several reasons: avoiding fatigue, nervous tension, and eliminating residual toxins from the body. In addition, the mind calms down and connects with the depths of your being, where your baby resides, establishing a unique connection with him.
Furthermore, certain carefully chosen asanas ensure the fetus maximum space for free growth and movement in the mother’s womb.
Here we have listed the benefits of yoga poses for pregnant woman:
Yoga produces a stretch of the elastic fibers under the skin, relaxes the abdominal walls, increasing the size of the uterus, avoiding any tension.
The high incidence of pain in the lower back, given the increase in weight, can be avoided with the practice of appropriate yoga postures.
One of the most important organs in pregnancy, since blood and other fluids must circulate correctly towards the fetus. It is benefited with the practice of Yoga asanas, which allow the heart muscles to pump correctly. A healthy circulation and oxygenation of blood to the placenta – which represents the fetal lungs – is ensured.
As the uterus of the pregnant woman presses on the diaphragm, the cells of the lungs are also pressed. If this increases, it causes poor oxygenation, fatigue, and low energy levels.
All Yoga exercises that benefit the heart also help the lungs. The practice of asanas and pranayama of Yoga maintains the health of the mother’s lungs, as well as the placenta that supplies the work of the fetus’s lungs.
Digestive and Excretory System
Yoga asanas create space within the practitioner’s body, maintaining a spaced relationship between one organ and another.
In pregnancy the intestines are pressed upwards by the increase of the uterus, this causes a displacement of the rest of the abdominal organs. The optimal functioning of each organ must be protected.
The practice of particular Yoga asanas, before and after eating, prevents problems and pain in this area because the walls of the diaphragm and stomach become flexible.
Pregnancy is a state of physical and emotional change, mood swings from one moment to another are frequent. Yoga asanas help a woman to stabilize her mind. During practice the body is subjected to tremendous conditioning, the mind resists physiological stretching.
Yoga, therefore, is the art of using the will as a teacher of the mind and body. A quiet mind favors a non-irritated uterus. A calm mind is extremely important to the survival of pregnancy.
Breathing is the key that allows control over the senses and the mind.
A healthy metabolism depends on three factors:
- An efficient blood circulation.
- An efficient absorption of food that nourishes the cells of the body.
- Healthy cells produced by the bone marrow.
A regular practice of Yoga improves the absorption of food, through the massaged action in the intestines, as well as the massage that occurs on the surface of the bones, pulsing fresh blood in the cavity and substance of the bones.
The practice of Yoga asanas during pregnancy properly regulates the balance of water and salt that the body needs, and prevents the occurrence of hidden edema.
Yoga pranayama stabilizes metabolic reactions by maintaining a balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
It is the mind that ultimately determines the type of metabolism in a person’s body.
All Yoga asanas are designed so that both mother and baby enjoy the practice.
Precautions for Yoga Poses for Pregnant:
For regular Yoga practitioners, there are some exercises that should be avoided during pregnancy. For the non Yoga practitioners, seeking a Yoga teacher to guide well throughout your pregnancy is advisable.Here are some tips :
During the first trimester, a pregnant woman can perform all Yoga exercises. There are not many restrictions regarding doing Yoga exercises.
During the second trimester, poses in which one is required to hold in a single position for a long time must be avoided. All the exercises must be done slowly because the increasing belly may pose a problem.
During the third trimester, there will probably be difficulty due to increased belly size.
Some Yoga poses should be avoided during pregnancy and these include exercises in which one has to lie down, in which one has to stay in a single position for long, etc..
Blocks and straps should be provided so as reduce the chances of risk.
It is also important to include a gentle aerobic activity like walking or swimming in your daily routine. If you choose to add postures to those suggested here for pregnancy, be careful to avoid those that compress the abdomen. And performing extreme backward bends further taxes an already beleaguered lower back.
In addition, as the uterus enlarges and becomes heavier, some women experience lower blood pressure and a reduced blood flow to the fetus when resting on their back or attempting the shoulderstand or modifications, such as the inverted action pose (vitparitakarani). For this reason during the fourth month it is wise to consider relaxing on your side rather than on your back, and to discontinue working with the shoulderstand.
The shoulderstand is a pose that is challenging without the added complexity of navigating the changes in ligamentous support and balance that accompany pregnancy. The benefits of inverted postures are considerably diminished by the increasing possibility of straining yourself while attempting the pose, losing your balance, and redirecting the natural internal pressures and energy currents unique to a pregnant body.
If you feel dizzy, shaky, or too hot in any posture, stop and rest. This is a time for moderation and for paying especially close attention to your body and breath. The awareness you cultivate now will serve you well during the birthing process.
A pregnant Woman should perform Yoga under an experienced Yoga teacher to ensure no problems arise during pregnancy and the baby remains safe inside the mother’s womb.
15 Best Yoga Poses for Pregnant Woman
1. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Adapted Twisting Pose)
Gives relief to the muscles of the middle and upper torso; benefits the internal organs as they adjust to their limited space within the torso.
Keep the spine erect as you twist. Do not use force.
- Place a chair next to a wall.
- Stand facing the chair with your right side toward the wall.
- Place your right foot on the seat.
- Twist to the right to place both palms on the wall.
- As the size of your abdomen increases you may wish to do this pose with the leg extended and the heel of the foot on the chair.
- Hold to your comfortable capacity.
- Repeat by turning the chair in the opposite direction, turning around, and placing the left leg on the chair.
2. Tadasana (Spinal Lengthening Practice in Mountain Pose)
As the fetus grows during pregnancy, the body’s center of gravity moves forward. This accentuates the spinal curves, tilting the pelvis forward. This posture not only will help to relieve lower back tension, but will serve as a reminder to maintain pelvic alignment when standing and walking.
- Stand with your back to a wall.
- Flatten your lower back into the wall as much as you can.
- While you do this, stretch your head upward from its center to further lengthen the whole spine.
- Feel your chest open and your spine lengthen.
- Step away from the wall and keep the feeling of this posture.
- To provide greater relief for your lower back, stand with your back against a wall and bend the knees to a 45° angle.
- As you exhale, gently pull the navel area back toward your spine. Keep this feeling as you inhale and stretch your head up and open across the chest.
- Then tuck your tailbone and shift your weight forward, away from the wall, maintaining the abdominal support and extension throughout the spine.
- Now straighten the legs, keeping your whole spine long and your lower back flat.
3. Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose)
The muscles of the hips and thighs must continuously adjust to the changing weight and shape of the pelvis as your baby grows and you move about during pregnancy. It is beneficial to stretch these different sets of muscles to reduce strain and promote balance throughout the pelvic girdle. This pose stretches the hardworking hip flexors and other groin muscles while strengthening the legs.
You may wish to practice next to a wall or near a piece of heavy furniture if keeping your balance is becoming a challenge.
- Sit sideways on a chair with your right side to the chair’s back.
- Extend your left leg behind you and place the sole of the left foot on the floor.
- Move as far to the front edge of the seat as is comfortable.
- Extend the arms out to the sides at shoulder height and look over your right hand.
- Breathe fully and hold to your comfortable capacity. Repeat on the other side.
- Stand with legs wide apart.
- Pivot your right foot outward 90° and the left foot inward 45°.
- Bend the right knee and lunge, keeping the torso facing forward.
- Extend the arms out to the sides at shoulder height and look over your right hand.
- Breathe fully and hold the pose only to your comfortable capacity.
- Repeat on the other side.
4. Janu Shirshasana (Hamstring Stretch)
- Place a chair next to a wall or heavy bookcase.
- Face the chair with your right side to the wall.
- Place your right heel on the chair, keep your right hand on the chair for balance, and bend forward from your hip joint.
- Hold for three or more full breaths if you can.
- Repeat by facing the chair in the opposite direction, turning, and placing the left heel on the chair.
5. Addha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
This and the following three postures stretch the inner thighs and open the hips.
- Sit on the floor with your spine erect, and place the soles of the feet together.
- Work to elongate your spine as you relax the hips.
- If you cannot sit easily in this pose, sit on a small cushion with your back against a wall.
6. Upavishtha Konasana(SpreadLeg Stretch)
- Sit erect on the floor and spread the legs wide.
- Work to elongate the spine. You may bend forward as far as you are able if you place no pressure on the womb.
- If you already have good flexibility through your hips and inner thighs, this stretch will feel great during pregnancy.
7. Supta Ardha Baddha Konasana(Deep Rotator Stretch)
- Lie supine on the floor. Turn your right thigh out to the side as you bend the knee and grasp your right ankle or foot.
- Draw the foot closer to your face until you feel a comfortable stretch in the back of the pelvis.
- Hold for three or more full breaths. Repeat with the left leg
8. Purvottanasana (Front of Hip and Body Opener)
This posture stretches the entire front of the body, creates space for the proper placement of the fetus, and strengthens the torso overall.
- Sit erect with legs extended in front of the body.
- Lean back slightly and place the hands on the floor behind your pelvis, pointing the fingers away from the body.
- Inhale and raise the pelvis off the floor to create an incline from the shoulders through the heels.
- Focus on opening across the chest and through the front of the hips.
- Exhale as you slowly lower the pelvis to the floor.
- Repeat twice more.
9. Makarasana (Crocodile Pose)
Back muscle becomes softer and more comfortable. This posture benefits all parts of the body because it stretches body from head to toe.
- Lie on your back with your feet up.
- Spread your arms at shoulder height.
- Exhaling, let both knees sink to the left, as easy as possible, inhaling to the middle, then to the other side.
- The head can roll in the opposite direction to the legs.
- Practice with your breathing rhythm as long as the movement is good for you.
- Imagine that you – like a crocodile – are lounging on a shoreline on soft earth and grass.
Do you feel the pull that comes into the back muscles from the twist? After the exercise, do you feel that your back muscles have become softer and your back is more comfortable?
10. Dvipada Pitha (Pelvic Lift with Two Feet)
This pose encourages proper uterine placement and offers local supporting structures, including your lower back, some relief.
Pre-bridge pelvic tilting movement:
- Lie supine with your knees bent, soles of the feet on the floor.
- Inhale and as you feel your abdomen move back toward the floor, lengthen your spine by reaching your tailbone (coccyx) away from your torso.
- Curl your tailbone upward between your thighs. This will result in flattening your lower back to the floor and slightly tilting the pelvic area.
- Exhale and lengthen your tailbone once again to rest on the floor. Repeat this movement several times.
- Repeat step as stated above but now continue to lift the pelvis off the floor, initiating this lift from your tailbone to insure the lengthening of the lower back and the tilt of the pelvis.
- Keep the lift of the pelvis low so your torso makes a long flat incline from neck to knees.
- As you lower, keep a sense of lengthening through your lower back and pelvis.
11. Jathara Parivritti (Supported Torso Side Bend)
This pose stretches the deep muscles in the sides of the torso and hips. This can relieve tension in these areas caused by carrying a baby.
- Lie supine with your arms extended to the sides at shoulder height.
- Incrementally slide the legs, one after the other, to the right side, keeping them on the floor.
- Turn your head to the left. This is a hearty side stretch so don’t feel you need to move your legs far to feel it.
- Repeat on the other side.
12. Mula Bandha (Pelvic Floor Exercise)
Strengthens the muscles of the pelvic floor and keeps them flexible. In the practice of mula bandha the pelvic floor muscles are contracted and lifted. Moderate exercise of these muscles keeps the hammock-like pelvic floor flexible and strong, and thus better able to withstand the stress of birthing.
- Initially it may take time to feel these muscles contract and release. Focus on sensing a contraction in the back (anal), center (perineal), and front (vaginal) areas of the pelvic floor.
- Coordinate the contraction with the breath by squeezing and lifting all three areas toward the central one on the exhalation and releasing on the inhalation.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times. Do several sets throughout the day.
13. Relaxation Pose with Elevation
Lying on one side with the top arm and leg bent at the elbow and knee is one of the few comfortable ways to rest during late pregnancy and labor. A variation that can provide relief to swollen feet is to place a support such as a bolster or several folded blankets under the feet. A smaller support can also be placed under the top forearm to aid deep breathing while in the pose.
Another good position for relaxation also uses supports. Bolsters, extra pillows, and folded blankets can be adjusted in various combinations. Build a wedge increasing in height from your lower back to your head. Roll up a large blanket and keep it next to you. Sit at the base of the wedge. Place the rolled blanket under your knees and lean back on the wedge. If you wish to elevate the feet as well, roll up another blanket and place it under the feet.
14. Foot and Hand Movements
Increases circulation in the extremities. Some of the increased fluid in the body during pregnancy may be retained in the extremities of hands and feet. The relaxation pose above helps relieve it.
Flex and curl the toes and circle the ankles to promote circulation and drainage of fluid from the feet. (You may want to provide additional support by placing two or more rolled blankets under the feet.) Raise the hands above your shoulders; flex and curl the hands and fingers and rotate the hands.
15. Yoni Mudra
Yoni means “womb” and mudra means “seal.” This practice is also called Sanmukhi Mudra, which means to close the seven gates or openings.
It aids the practitioner in withdrawing attention from the flood of information taken in by the senses. It is helpful in quieting the mind and nervous system and redirecting attention to the inner world.
For some, pregnancy can be a time of reflection and preparation. For others, especially those who already care for children, this practice can provide the peace needed to prepare for yet another life transition.
- Sit erect and relax the body. You may wish to sit on a small cushion.
- Raise the arms so the hands cover the face, elbows pointing out to the sides.
- Place the thumbs gently in the ear holes to diminish hearing.
- Place the index fingers on the eyebrows, and the middle fingers very gently on the closed eyelids.
- Slightly press the tips of the ring fingers on the outer sides of the nostrils. If you have any shortness of breath or breathing difficulty, just touch the nostrils with no pressure.
- Place the small fingers on the lips at the corners of the mouth.
- Remain here with slow rhythmic breathing for as long as you are comfortable.
The benefits you gain by practicing yoga during your pregnancy are not merely physical. Practicing with attention to the body and awareness of the breath will help you remain present and in touch with your body during childbirth. Instead of distracting attention from the experience of labor, yoga practice helps you learn to remain alert to the changing sensations and needs of your body. An intimate relationship with your breath allows you to attentively enter into the natural process of birth as it unfolds.
Joining Yoga classes, practicing Yoga will help promote a healthy living / lifestyle for the new mother and her baby. Yoga is a life saver, life giver and a life promoter. So, start practicing Yoga. Make your pregnancy smooth and easy.
A word of Caution: It is ALWAYS a good idea to seek help and guidance of an experienced Yoga Instructor while performing / practicing Yoga during pregnancy.