Benefits, poses and safety instructions

  • Prenatal yoga is a gentler form of yoga designed to build strength and balance in pregnant women.
  • The benefits of prenatal yoga include relief from back pain, labor pains, anxiety, and stress.
  • Common prenatal yoga poses include the Child Pose, Malasana Squat, Triangle Pose, and Bird Dog.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference Library for more tips.

Prenatal yoga is a gentler, low-impact form of yoga specially designed for pregnant women and their changing bodies. You can start practicing it as soon as you are pregnant.

With the approval of your doctor, you can continue prenatal yoga throughout your pregnancy as long as you are comfortable and continue to modify the positions as needed.

Here are the benefits of prenatal yoga along with sample poses and safety guidelines.

Benefits of prenatal yoga

Prenatal yoga aims to make a pregnant person more comfortable during body changes while teaching calming breathing practices.

“Prenatal yoga avoids positions that can be uncomfortable or dangerous, lengthens muscles that usually become stiff, and strengthens muscles in the pelvis, spine, hip, upper body and legs,” says Patricia Ladis, Physiotherapist and Respiratory Behavior Analyst certified with her. own practice.

There are many potential benefits to practicing prenatal yoga, including:

  • Decreased lower back pain
  • Better balance and coordination
  • Improved mental health and mindfulness
  • Awareness and acceptance of your changing body
  • Strengthened muscles
  • Less pain during childbirth

Prenatal yoga poses

Not all prenatal yoga poses are comfortable for you, but here are some common ones you can try. If you are feeling well, try the following poses two to three times a week.

Hold comfortable poses for 30 seconds to a minute in the first and second trimesters, and less than 30 seconds – about the duration of five long breaths – in the third trimester, Einhorn says.

Check with your doctor if you’re concerned about practicing prenatal yoga poses, Ladis says.

1. Parsva Balasana modified (bird dog)

Parsva Balasana modified.

Marianne Ayala / Insider

Goal: Helps stabilize the hips and shoulders while strengthening the abs and glutes, explains Einhorn.

How to do: Place your hands and knees on the mat in a tabletop pose. Lift your opposite arm and leg at the same time. Repeat on the opposite side.

Changes: Use the wall as a support or only lift your arm or leg.

2. The child’s posture

Child pose with pillow.

Marianne Ayala / Insider

Goal: Decreases tummy pressure on the spine, relieving lower back and pelvic pain, Ladis says.

How to do: Kneel on the mat with your hips apart and your toes together. Place your fingers in front of you, lower your head, and lean back slightly.

Changes: Keep your knees apart as you bend over, especially when the stomach is growing. You can also lay your head on a pillow for extra support.

3. Malasana Squat

Squat Malasana.

Marianne Ayala / Insider

Goal: Releases tension in the hips and strengthens the thighs, explains Kathrin Werderitsch, a yoga teacher with her own virtual studio.

How to do: Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hip width and your toes slightly pointed. Slowly descend into a squatting position with the hands clasped in the center and the elbows pushing the knees outward.

Changes: Place a block under your hips for more support.

4. Triangular posture

Triangular installation with block.

Marianne Ayala / Insider

Goal: Stretches the hips and shoulders while opening the diaphragm – the muscle that helps bring air in and out of the lungs – for deeper breathing.

How to do: Place your feet slightly wider than hip width apart, with the front foot pointing forward and the back foot parallel to the bottom edge of your mat. Make sure your front heel is aligned with the arch of the back foot. Lean the front hand down next to its corresponding foot, then place the other hand in the air. Look toward the raised hand or toward the floor, whichever is most comfortable for your neck.

Changes: Put your hand on your thigh or a block for a more comfortable stretch. You can also shorten the position between the legs.

5. Warrior II

Warrior II.

Marianne Ayala / Insider

Goal: Open up the hips and upper body while relieving back pain, Einhorn says.

How to do: Place one of your legs behind you with the outside edge parallel to the back of the mat. Your front foot should be turned forward and aligned with the arch of the back foot. Bend the front leg and stretch your arms out to each side.

Changes: Lean one hand against the wall for support or kneel. You can also shorten the position between the legs.

Prenatal yoga is relatively low risk as long as you follow certain strict safety guidelines.

Insider takeaways

Prenatal yoga can improve comfort levels throughout pregnancy and better prepare you for childbirth. You can do prenatal yoga throughout your pregnancy and should try to do it two to three times a week. Talk to your doctor before trying any prenatal yoga poses. If a pose makes you uncomfortable, don’t force yourself and take the time to recover.

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