Yoga for Expecting Mothers

Pregnancy is a life-changing journey for each and every woman. She has to exert special care across all realms in this journey. Along with healthy food intake, a good exercise regimen is essential to maintain a healthy weight gain, prevent gestational diabetes, and ensure proper growth of the fetus. And, prenatal yoga is a great exercise regimen a pregnant woman can adopt.

Before you look into some of the postures that are practiced as part of pregnancy yoga, take a walk through the benefits of yoga practice during pregnancy…

Why should a woman practice yoga during pregnancy? Here are some of the most enticing reasons for practicing pregnancy yoga…

• Helps you balance yourself with the expanding belly
• Improves your stamina and energy levels
• Ensures healthy weight gain
• Could help to prevent gestational diabetes
• Helps to keep stress under control
• Helps you sleep better
• Could help to prevent fluid retention and bloating
• Could prevent gestational hypertension
• Helps you connect with your little one
• Improves circulation
• Helps you nurture and take care of yourself
• Helps to prepare you physically and mentally for a smoother labor
Said that, you can now read about some of the yoga poses that are safe to be practiced during pregnancy.

SEVEN SAFE PRENATAL YOGA POSES

Tadasana – Mountain Pose

It is a simple yoga pose that stretches your entire body.
Stand straight with your feet together, arms resting along your sides. Keep your spine straight, tucking the tailbone. Do not suck your abdominal muscles into your ribcage during pregnancy. Relax your abdominal muscles. Keep your thighs and knees active, squeezing the muscles of your buttocks moderately. Inhale and swing your arms over your head, joining your palms. If you are stable here, slightly tilt your head backward and gaze at your fingertips, stretching your entire body.
Hold the posture, breathing deeply and slowly, for 7 breaths. Exhale and slowly come back to starting position.

Vrikshasana – Tree Pose

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In the classical tree pose, you rest the sole of one feet on the inner thigh of the balancing foot. However, since this is slightly challenging during pregnancy, you can rest the sole of your feet on the ankle of the balancing feet. Rest your back slightly against a wall.
Once you complete Tadasana, rest the sole of your right feet on your left ankle. Let the toes of your right feet rest on the floor next to your left feet. Join your palms at heart center. Close your eyes and hold the posture for 7 deep breaths. Open your eyes, exhale, and release the posture. Repeat on the other side.

Trikonasana – Triangle Pose

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This is a modified version that helps to open up your hips. It also stimulates and strengthens your digestive system, easing bloating and gastrointestinal reflux, both which are common during pregnancy.
Join your feet together after you complete the Tree Pose, resting your arms along your body. Slowly separate your feet as wide as your hips, keeping your feet parallel to each other. Turn your right feet to your right and angle your left feet slightly to the right. Inhale and lift your hands at shoulder level, palms facing the floor.
As you exhale, extend your body to the right. Inhale and as you exhale, bend sideways to your right, resting your right palm on your shin or wherever it reaches at any given moment. Lift your left arm up to allow the fingertips to face the ceiling. If possible and if you are comfortable, gaze at your left fingertips. Hold the posture for 7 deep breaths.
Inhale and come back to the center. Repeat on the other side, turning your feet to the left.

Warrior 1 – Virabhadrasana 1

A balancing posture, it also works towards opening your hips and pelvis, preparing your body for the labor.
Keep your feet separated after you complete Triangle Pose. Bend your right leg at knee, stacking your right knee over the right ankle. Let the left foot remain firmly on the floor. Square your hips so that they are in the same direction as your right toes. Inhale and as you exhale, extend your left leg slightly backward to bring your pelvis and hips closer to the floor. Hold the posture, joining your palms at heart center, for seven deep breaths.
Inhale and straighten your right leg. Repeat on the other side.

Garland Pose – Malasana

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A complete squat, it is ideal to be practiced after 37 weeks of pregnancy to help your pelvic floor prepare for a smooth delivery.
Keep your feet separated hip-width apart after completing Virabhadrasana 1. Inhale and as you exhale, squat completely. Join your hands at heart center, pushing your knees out with your elbows. Push your chest slightly forward, gaze in front you, and hold the posture for seven deep breaths.

Standing Forward Bend

While inversion poses are generally prohibited during pregnancy, this is a simple one that can be practiced with the chair or table. Just make sure that it reaches up just half your extended belly.
Place your palms down after you complete Malasana. Inhale, press the palms into the floor, and slowly come back to starting position. Keep your feet separated hip-distance. Inhale and sweep your arms over your head. Exhale and fold forward and rest the palms on the chair or table. Hold the posture for 7 deep breaths. Inhale and slowly come back to starting position.
Practice the yoga sequence close to the table so that you do not have to walk around as you do the poses.

Simple Standing Side Bend

It stretches your sides and releases any tension you might have stored in your hips.

Keep your feet separated at hip distance, palms resting on your outer thighs. Inhale and lift your left arm, aligning it with the left ear. Exhale and bend sideways to your right, sliding your right arm down your right thigh. Keep your hips squared to your front. Hold the posture, breathing deeply, for 7 deep breaths.
Inhale and come back to the center. Repeat on the other side.
Join your feet, stretch out your arms, close your eyes, and relax.

The List of Don’t While Practicing Pregnancy Yoga

Now that you have an idea of various poses you could practice during your motherhood, here are some tips to keep you safe while practicing.
1. Drink plenty of warm water before and after your practice. If you feel tired while practicing, you could sip a mouthful or two.
2. Hold the poses only for seven or lesser breaths. Listen to your body and please come out of the posture at the slightest discomfort.
3. Never overstretch even if you have been practicing yoga before pregnancy.
4. Avoid abdominal twists and inversions during prenatal yoga practices.
5. Avoid any poses that exert pressure on your abdominal area.
6. Refrain from practicing forward folds after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
7. Do not practice prone yoga poses like Dhanurasana and Urdhva Mukha Svanasana.
8. Avoid powerful breathing routines such as Bhastrika and Kapalbhati.
9. Do not practice deep back bends.
10. Avoid any form of Power Yoga that may put extra stress on the body.

While the above-mentioned poses are safe to be practiced as part of prenatal yoga regimen, it is advisable to consult with your doctor before you begin your practice. Since pregnancy is a very delicate situation, make sure you feel your best! Hence, it is advisable to seek the guidance of a yoga teacher in-person as they will be able to guide you according to your condition. Everyone’s body and present state of health is different! So listen to your body!