Yoga poses for pregnant women
Alleviate lower back pain, relieve nausea, and ease calf cramps.
Being a mama-to-be is no easy feat. While the growing bump might be visible, what remains largely invisible is the immense effort it takes – both physically and mentally – to grow, nurture, and protect a little life even before a baby draws its first breath.
For yogis going through pregnancy, the lessons that you’ve learnt on the mat are just as applicable to your pregnancy journey. In the same way yoga teaches us to surrender and experience life as it unfolds, pregnancy too, teaches us to accept each day as a new experience. You can’t predict how your body will feel with each day, but your yoga training prepares you to be more accepting of the profound changes you might experience.
Keeping a regular practice as a pregnant woman is also key to helping you increase your awareness of your mind and body, be it moving into poses or sitting still in meditation. So even in difficult moments, when your body feels fatigued or out of sorts, your mind maintains a certain level of self-awareness that helps you to observe, feel, and let go of uncomfortable moments.
While we’re rounded up a few poses to help alleviate some physical conditions you might encounter during your pregnancy, do check in with your healthcare professional as well as a trained yoga teacher before attempting the poses. If you feel pain or discomfort at any point in time, simply stop practising.
How it helps: Alleviates lower back pain.
Props required: Yoga mat.
Execute the pose: Simply kneel on your mat with your hands under the shoulders and knees positioned a little wider than the hips. Exhale and drop your head and tailbone while rounding the belly upwards. Now that you’re in cat pose, inhale and lift your head and tailbone while you drop your belly. This movement brings you to cow pose. Repeat these movements 20 times as you move with each in-breath and out-breath.
2. Wall stretch
How it helps: Eases calf cramps.
Props required: Yoga mat, wall.
Execute the pose: As this pose has the ability to prevent and alleviate calf cramps, it can be practised several times throughout the day. To begin, place your mat with the short end facing a wall. Position your body to face the wall, with one foot in front of you and another behind you. Raise your arms to shoulder level and press against the wall. At this point, you want to ensure that your back foot is positioned 90 degrees to the wall to ensure that the stretch remains effective. Gently press your heel down and breathe normally. Hold the pose for two to three minutes until you feel a pleasant stretch in the lower portion of the back leg. Repeat the exercise by swapping the positions of your feet.
3. Reclining hero
How it helps: Relieves nausea and indigestion.
Props required: Yoga mat, four blankets, one bolster, one pillow. Optional: a yoga block.
Setting up the props: Before you ease into the pose, use your blankets, bolster, and pillow to create a comfortable ‘chaise lounge’ that you can recline on. Begin by folding three blankets and stacking them on one end of the mat. Following this, place the remaining blanket across the top of the blanket stack so that it extends and reaches the mat. This creates a reclining surface for your bolster to lean on. The bolster provides a broad, supportive plane that you will later recline on. The pillow goes on top of the bolster to support your neck. Depending on what feels comfortable for you, you can modify the number of blankets you use to prop up your bolster. What’s important is to ensure that your lower back is fully supported with the bolster and blankets and that there is no gap between the mat and your lumbar spine.
Execute the pose: Kneel with your back facing the bolster and sit down slowly between your heels. If this feels uncomfortable, place a yoga block between your heels and sit on it. Ensure your feet point straight back and do not splay. Lie back on the bolster until you feel your head supported by the pillow. At this point, the pose should feel soothing and comfortable. Close your eyes and begin to breathe slowly for the next three to 10 minutes. When you are ready to get up, use your arms to support you and avoid any abrupt movements. Once you’re in seated position, lean forward and place your hands in front of you so that you’re propped up on all fours. At this point, you can stand up slowly.