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Yoga Poses & Stretches for Pregnancy

Rachel O'Reilly

By Aaryn Leineke

Prenatal Yoga is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby. Not only will yoga help strengthen, it will help stretch and open your body for childbirth. Practicing yoga can increase stamina and energy, yet at the same time calm the nervous system. It provides a wonderful balance for you not only physically but emotionally as well. 

Yoga is a practice of love and compassion. Your body will be facing a full transformation while growing a fetus. It's a time to truly let go, accept, appreciate and love your body, for it is giving life to your unborn child. When practicing yoga and meditation, it is likely that you will be more in tune with your body during the different stages of pregnancy and labor. It is a practice of breath, and finding comfort at times when you are potentially most uncomfortable. 

Some women that I've worked with who practice yoga have been able to tell me they feel their baby's movements, growth, and can give detailed descriptions about where their baby is in the womb. They can feel when their baby has adjusted to a head down position, or even if they've dropped further, deeper into the pelvis. This is not a guaranteed result from practicing prenatal yoga, but it is a pretty special experience I've witnessed.

Forming community for yourself during this time in your life is really important. If your closest family and friends are not on the same stage of parenthood that you are, joining a prenatal yoga class is a wonderful way to meet other moms!

Camel Pose (Ustrasana variation)

Stretches the spine, back, hips, chest and shoulders. Increase stamina. Invigorates and tones the nervous system and relieves stress. Opens the chakras and the heart.

Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

Increases flexibility in hips, spine, shoulders & neck and strengthens lower body. Massages & stimulates abdominal organs. Increases endurance and stamina. 

Extended Fierce Side Angle Pose (Utthita Utkata Parsvakonasana) 

Builds stability in inner thighs and outer hips. Strengthens and lengthens the pelvic floor. Lengthens the side body and stretches side abdominal muscles. Increases grounded energy. 

Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana)

Increases circulation to the pelvic floor and abdomen. Stretches groin, hips and chest. Strengthens inner thighs, hips and shoulders. Prepares the body for child birth.

Squatting Pose (Malasana)

Stretches the groin, lower back, sacrum and hips as well as stimulates metabolism and digestive organs. Helps to tone the belly and prepares the body for childbirth by opening and softening the hips.

Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)

Stretches inner thighs, groin and knees. Stimulates the heart and improves circulation, stimulates the digestive system. Soothes sciatic pain. Reduces menstrual cramps. Regular practice is shown to ease childbirth.