Pregnancy stretches and yoga poses for your evolving body

Couples looking to extend their pregnancy wellness routines beyond folic acid should consider prenatal yoga and pregnancy stretches. Offering a combination of muscle building, flexibility, mindfulness, and pregnancy-friendly stretching, yoga offers expectant mothers unexpected skills that could make childbirth easier. And when fathers join in, a prenatal yoga practice can offer cuttings a chance to connect.

What are the benefits of prenatal yoga?

Even those who have never set foot on a yoga mat can do prenatal yoga, says Erica Rodefer Winters, certified yoga instructor and prenatal yoga coach. Not only is prenatal yoga low-key by design, the benefits for a woman developing a human life are endless – it’s a great investment.

“The poses themselves can help with a lot of aches and pains, like sciatica and carpal tunnel, that pregnant women have,” says Winters. “A lot of it is learning to hold yourself in a way that is more conducive to carrying a baby. When you bring mindfulness to this it can help the anxiety and the nerves to be able to handle the huge transition. “

Future dads can also benefit, says Winters. She notes that there are many birthing techniques that rely on focused breathing. Some methods, like Lamaze and the Bradley Method, make fathers a breathing coach during labor. Yoga offers practice.

“Breathe,” Winters says. “This is exactly what you do when you do yoga together.”

Tips for getting started

Couples looking to start their prenatal yoga practice will be able to find a variety of resources online, but Winters suggests those new to the practice specifically look for prenatal yoga videos that are easier to follow. Its own site, has several.

Whatever couples choose, Winters notes that prenatal yoga is not about competition or pushing boundaries. “During pregnancy, now is not really the time to start pushing yourself to do increasingly difficult things,” she says. Additionally, women should instead use the practice to tune in to their bodies. “One of the benefits of prenatal yoga is finding out where your advantage lies and how to listen to yourself. “

To do this, expectant mothers must listen to their breath. If a pose causes shallow breaths that don’t go all the way to the abdomen, it’s time to relax. Plus, Winter warns that pregnancy produces a hormone called relaxin that softens tendons. It is therefore preferable not to push the stretches too far. Instead, she says, focus on building strength.

Finally, as the pregnancy progresses, expectant mothers must remain aware of the load they are carrying. “Don’t crush the baby,” Winters says. “Anything you do while lying on top of your baby would obviously be a no. In addition, all poses that require a twist, which also compress the baby, should be avoided. “

Prenatal yoga in the first trimester

The first trimester of pregnancy does not impose so many physical limits on movement. But it tends to affect energy levels. To that end, Winters suggests that mothers who are already practicing yoga can carry on with whatever they are comfortable with. She also recommends:

  • Savasana: A pose usually performed at the end of the practice. The position is fairly straightforward and only requires lying on your back in a neutral, face-up position with your limbs relaxed. Naps are fine.
  • Child’s pose: Another common and restful pose, the Child Pose is accomplished by starting on the hands and knees and lowering the hips towards the heels so that your upper body is resting on your thighs in a sort of fetal position.

Prenatal yoga in the second trimester

Prenatal yoga poses become a bit more active in the second trimester. The energy comes back, but there are limits as the body changes. Winters recommends poses that strengthen the pelvic floor and open the hips.

  • Cat and cow: A pose of the hands and knees that alternates between an arched back and an open chest. Winters explains that movements occur with the cycle of breathing. “Inhale, lift the top of your head, and widen your collarbones. Exhale, go around your back, feel your shoulder blades pull apart and look towards your growing belly.
  • Warrior 2: This standing posture helps strengthen the pelvic floor, which is crucial for childbirth. From the hands and knees or downward facing dog, warrior two is accomplished by lifting one foot between the hands, pressing down on the opposite heel, and lifting the upper body with outstretched arms. The end result is a nice slit.

Prenatal yoga in the third trimester

In the third trimester, poses tend to be spent preparing for work. These poses are all about creating space and breathing in a feeling of relaxed openness. Because the abdomen has grown, expectant moms should be careful and bring yoga blocks if a stretch could otherwise crush the tummy.

  • Low lunge: Simply, a slit. One leg extends behind, with the toes tucked under the foot and the knee on the floor. The other leg is forward with the knee in line with the foot. From there, Winters advises, “Inhale, bring your chest forward so your spine is long. Exhale and soften your shoulders, face, tongue, and jaw. Stay here for two to three slow, deep breaths.
  • Laying the garland: Kids use this pose for squatting and looking at things on the floor, and essentially the pose is just a deep squat. The feet and knees should be apart and apart to make room for the stomach. The torso should be straight with the bottom hanging from the floor. The hands are pressed together at heart level, the elbows gently pushing the knees outward.

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