Prenatal Yoga Sequence
1. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
– Strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles
– Stimulates abdominal organs
– Stretches the groin, chest and shoulders
– Relieves backache, especially through second trimester of pregnancy
– Increases stamina
– Therapeutic for sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, flat feet and osteoporosis
1. From a standing position (Mountain pose), carefully step your feet about four feet apart as you exhale. Please avoid jumping during pregnancy. Keep the arch and heel of your feet in line with each other.
2. Raise both arms parallel to the floor, but don’t lift up your shoulders. Keep your neck long and your torso vertical! Turn your palms down toward the floor. Turn your head to the left, trying to keep your chin parallel to your shoulder.
3. Turn your left foot 90 degrees to the left (along your yoga mat). Turn your right foot 30 degrees to the left and bend your left knee. Don’t let your knee cap be in front of your left toe – the angle between your hip and shin shouldn’t be acute (less than 90 degrees). Stay in this position for 10-15 (3rd trimester) to 30 seconds, then repeat for the other leg.
2. Triangle pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
– Engages every part of the body
– Tones and strengthens your neck, chest, core, arms and legs
– Stretches spine, hamstrings, hips, groins, calves and shoulders
– Good for digestion
– Improves circulation
– Relieves back pain, sciatica, anxiety and stress
1. From a standing position (Mountain pose), carefully step your feet 3 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor as in Warrior II pose. Spread your weight evenly on both legs, don’t shift it entirely on your left leg.
2. As you inhale, turn your right foot in slightly to the right and your left foot out to the right (about 90 degrees). Try to keep your knees straight! Don’t forget to activate your thighs.
3. Keep your spine and neck long! Exhale and extend your torso to the left directly over the left leg, bending from the hip, not the waist! Slightly and carefully rotate your core to the sky opening your chest. Try to draw your left groin slightly forward and your right groin slightly backward.
4. Rest your left hand on your shin, ankle, or the floor (1st trimester) outside your left foot. Raise your right arm to the sky and turn your head to your right palm if it’s possible without losing balance. Feel free to use steady yoga blocks, bolsters or other props under your left hand! Draw your shoulders back toward your core. If you feel uncomfortable, perform this pose near a wall.
Stay in this pose for 15to 30 seconds, and slowly come up while inhaling. Repeat for the other leg.
3. Intense Side Stretch Pose (Parsvottanasana variation)
– It strenghtens your back, especially lower back when your belly is big. It’s a very important pose to prevent injuries and lower back ache.
– In first phase this pose is good for opening your chest and strengthening your upper back
– It strengthens your legs, calms your brain, improves digestion and sense of balance. It’s a really good choice if you want to improve your posture!
1. From a standing position (Mountain pose) carefully step your feet 3 to 4 feet apart.
2. As you inhale, turn your right foot in slightly to the right and your left foot out to the right (about 90 degrees). Try not to lock your knees! Don’t forget to activate your thighs. Inhale.
3. As you exhale, lift your hands up parallel to the floor and try to connect your palms in “Namaste” behind your back, edging your shoulder blades against your spine. If you feel comfortable, inhale and try to draw your shoulders to your lower back bending your upper back and opening your chest. Keep your neck and lower back long.
4. As you exhale, extend your spine and slightly lean your torso forward. Avoid touching your front hip with your growing belly! You don’t have to lean forward until your torso is parallel to the floor, if you feel uncomfortable. Try to keep your hips square by sending the hip from the front leg backward and the hip from the back leg forward. Don’t try to reach your knee if you are pregnant! Stop at any step you want!
5. If it isn’t possible to keep your spine straight while you leaning forward (don’t keep it round!) feel free to place your hands on the blocks or a chair, but keep your spine straight and don’t compress your belly!
6. Stay in this pose for 15to 30 seconds, and slowly come up as you inhale. Repeat for the other leg.
4. Cat to Cow stretch
It’s one of the best exercises during every trimester of pregnancy!
Cat to cow flow is pretty safe and has lots of benefits:
– Relieves a back ache quickly
– Very good for the kidneys
– Can even relieve false contractions
– Strengthen your legs, arms and spine and stretches your back
– A good pose during labor
– You can do it everywhere: on your bed, on the beach etc.
1. Kneel on all fours, by carefully placing your palms on the floor right under your shoulders.
2. Your knees should be under your pelvic joints
3. Carefully drop your belly down slightly, bending your back, while inhaling and taking your gaze up toward the sky without cranking your neck
4. Tip your pelvis forward, tucking your tailbone, rounding your spine as you exhale. Drop your head, take your gaze to your navel. Always pull the floor away from you in cat, as well in cow.
Repeat 10-15 times.
5. Side plank variation
– Strengthens arms, core and legs
– It’s safe in this variation, but if you feel unsteady, do it near a wall.
– If it’s too boring, you always can modify it by lifting your upper leg, for example.
1. From “all four” position, with your right hand steady on the floor, lift your left hand up and exhale, gently twisting the shoulders.
2. Try to keep your right hand under your shoulder joint and your shoulders in one line (if it’s comfortable)
3. Move your right knee back straightening your right leg.
4. If the knee hurts, place a padding underneath it.
5. Shift your weight to your left knee and place your right foot steady on the floor in one line with your right hand and left knee. But if you feel unsteady, feel free to place it in a comfortable position.
Hold this pose for 5-10 seconds and repeat for the other side.
6. Table pose
Benefits:– A nice one for strengthening your buttocks, back, hands and legs, especially when you are pregnant
1 From a sitting position, with your feet in front of you and your hands backward under your shoulder joints, lift your pelvis up as you exhale.
2 Try to keep your knees, pelvis, head and shoulders in one line.
3 Keep your hands under your shoulders and feet under the knee joints.
4 Keep your buttocks tight and your lower back as long as possible.
5 If your belly is already big, don’t hold this pose for a long time. The optimal time in 3rd trimester is 5-7 seconds.
6 You can modify this pose by adding dynamics: slowly move your pelvis up and down with deep breaths, if it’s comfortable.
7. Squat pose (Malasana) for pregnancy
– This amazing hip-opener helps to release tension throughout the hips, lower back, and ankles.
– Increases mobility in the hips, encourages deep breathing and has a positive impact on labor and delivery.
1 From a squatting position with your knees pointed to the ceiling, separate your thighs as wide as possible and place your torso between them.
2 Push the elbows into your inner knees.
3 If your heels aren’t flat on the floor, support them with a folded blanket or other props.
– Use a support under your pelvis (block, pillow or bolster) if you feel uncomfortable. Feel free to use a steady chair in front of you for support and balance.
– Try to keep your spine as straight as possible.
– Lean against a wall if you are a beginner or feel uncomfortable.
– Stay in this pose for 30 to 60 sec. I love to add a little vinyasa with slight twists to the left and right knees.
8. Baddha Konasana
Butterfly or Bound Angle Pose
– Stimulates abdominal organs, bladder and kidneys
– Stimulates the heart and improves general circulation
– Stretches the inner thighs, groins, and knees
– Relieves mild depression, anxiety, and fatigue
– Relieves sciatica
– Therapeutic for flat feet and high blood pressure
– The consistent practice of this pose until late in pregnancy is said to help ease childbirth.
1 From a sitting position, bend your knees and bring your heels as close to your pelvis as you can.
2 If it isn’t possible to hold the toes while your spine is straight, don’t compress your belly and clasp each hand around the same-side ankle or shin.
3 Keep the outer edges of your feet on the floor.
4 Do not force your knees down if you are a beginner or have some injuries, better try to release the heads of the thigh bones toward the floor. Sitting on a block or blanket, can help keep the spine straight and if the knees aren’t close to the floor, blocks or blankets can be placed under the knees.
5 Hold this pose for 6-10 breaths and repeat for the other side.
9. Side bend from Baddha Konasana
All the baddha Konasana benefits + arms strengthening and it’s great for side stretching.
1 Sitting in Baddha Konasana, place your right hand flat on the floor to control the side bend.
2 Lift your left hand up and slowly and gently bend your torso to the right side with as you exhale, opening your chest. Stop the movement if you feel tension of the uterus. Keep both sitting bones on the floor as the body bends to the side and shoulders away from ears.
3 Bring your torso back as you inhale and repeat for the other side.
10. Child pose variation
1 From a kneeling position, place your hands on a steady prop (or on the floor if comfortable) gently drawing your chest down to the floor as you exhale.
2 Another great way to do this pose, in case there are no props, is to open the knees wide, to fit the belly in the middle. Forehead can be on the floor or blocks. Fists can be made with both hands and place on top of each other, to rest the forehead
3 Hold it for a few breath cycles.
Be careful, have fun and don’t forget to ask your ob-gyn before any form of exercising.