Pregnancy can be a beautiful and wonderful time, but it can also come with many aches and pains. Often, your body starts hurting in completely new places and ways.
Yoga is an especially safe and effective exercise for pregnant women because, in addition to providing relief during pregnancy, it can help prepare your body for labor and delivery. The gentle movements and slow breathing can also provide stress relief.
Here are the five best yoga poses for pregnant women, according to Laura McCorry, a new mom, certified yoga instructor, and blogmaster at Yoga One Blog.
Cat/Cow Pose. If you're experiencing back pain, you'll want to rock between these two poses. This basic set of movements stretches the spine and allows your belly to hang, which can ease tension. It can also help move the baby into optimal position for birth. These poses will help you during labor if you experience "back labor." To maximize benefits of these poses, sync your breath with your stretching by breathing in and expanding your abdomen on the cow stretch and exhaling and contracting your abdomen when you arch your back like a cat.
Balancing Table Pose. From all fours, stretch your right leg back behind you and reach your left arm forward, hold for 3-5 breaths and then alternate. This pose requires core strength to maintain balance, so it's good for working those abdominal muscles, which will be important during labor! You might also find relief from round ligament pain if practiced regularly.
Downward Facing Dog Against a Wall. This variation of downward dog is excellent to help ease upper back and shoulder tension as well as open up the sacrum and lower back. Using a wall keeps your head elevated, too, which is recommended if you experience heartburn. Note: the pictured version is not using a wall. To modify, place your hands on a wall instead of the floor.
A wide-legged squat can be done with or without the support of a wall for balance. This pose strengthens the legs and pelvic floor, and encourages hip opening—all key components of the birth process!
Bound Angle Pose. Practice good posture and deep breathing while in baddha konasana, or bound angle pose. You can even give yourself a foot and calf massage to improve circulation and ease the strain of added weight.