When it comes to most of the common pregnancy aches and pains, there's not always a ton you can do. Discomfort is part of the package — your muscles and ligaments are supposed to be loosening up and lengthening, and sometimes that hurts. On top of that, painkillers are largely off-limits. And even if you just stop and lie down, sometimes there's no way to get comfortable and relax. But that doesn't mean you're completely out of luck. There are a few particularly amazing yoga poses for pregnancy pains. Taking some time to stretch and stabilize yourself can do great things for your body, and you just might impress yourself with how strong you actually are.
Of course, before you begin a yoga practice, you should always check with your medical provider to make sure it's right for you. And once you get the all-clear, it's a good idea to look for an instructor who is trained in prenatal yoga. Some common positions and poses are off-limits for pregnant people, or need to be modified.
And, as always with yoga, it's important to listen to what your body's telling you — if a pose is too intense or causing you pain, back out of it and go to something safe. Your goal is to take it slow and gentle.
1. For Your Hips And Legs: Goddess
If there's a time in your life when you'll hit peak goddess, it has to be while you're literally giving life to another human being. So start prepping your inner deity by getting into goddess pose, as suggested by Do You Yoga. With both feet planted on the floor, you'll feel stable and grounded, but the lower you sink into the pose, the more energy you'll feel, especially in your hips and legs.
2. For Your Spine And Belly: Cat-Cow
Cat-Cow is a gentle but oh-so-effective sequence for lightly stretching your spinal and abdominal muscles, and comes recommended by Greatist. As you inhale into cow pose, focus on moving your spine slowly, vertebra by vertebra, starting with your tailbone. Then do the same as you exhale into your cat pose. Repeat as desired for an alternating belly and back massage!
3. For Your Thighs And Groin: Butterfly
Pre-pregnancy, you might have done butterfly while reclining flat on your back, but many pregnancy yoga instructors will advise you against doing any poses in that position. However, you can remain seated and still get the inner thigh-stretching benefits of butterfly pose — or "bound angle pose," as it's called on Healthline.
This one has the potential to get intense if you're not used to it, so if you need some support, be generous with props like pillows or bolsters underneath your knees. As your muscles release and your knees fall apart more easily, you'll be able to reduce the height of the props.
4. For Your Legs, Spine, And Chest: Chair Pose
Chair pose, which we do regularly in my prenatal yoga class, is a bit of a misnomer — the look you're going for is not so much sitting on a chair but more "like you're sitting on a toilet," as one of my instructors used to say. And since pregnant people spend a lot more time than usual doing just that, this one should feel pretty natural. The deeper you sink into chair pose, the more you'll feel it in your ankles, calves, and thighs. Keep your arms actively reaching to increase the stretch throughout your body.
5. For Your Hips And Thighs: Child's Pose
In any yoga practice, child's pose usually signals a break from the hard work, a pause in between strenuous vinyasa sequences, as HuffPost points out. But it still provides a gentle stretch for your hips, thighs, and ankles, explained Yoga Journal. If you're used to doing child's pose a particular way, you may have to modify it during pregnancy, especially as your belly gets bigger. Make sure to spread your knees apart to make room for your abdomen, and be prepared to experiment with different positions for resting your head comfortably, whether that's with your forehead directly on the mat, or on top of your arms as they're folded in front of you.
6. For Your Back: Triangle
Triangle is one of those poses that looks impressive, feels great, and is much easier to do than it might appear. And, as HuffPost says, it can relieve some tension by helping you regain a sense of balance. Best of all, it targets pregnancy backache while also stretching and strengthening lots of related muscles in your thighs, knees, and ankles, Yoga Journal explained.
7. For Your Chest And Neck: Bridge
"Bridge Pose can be whatever you need — energizing, rejuvenating, or luxuriously restorative," according to Yoga Journal. And Healthline recommended it for pregnant women. So while you'll need to take it slow to get into the pose safely, once you're there, you can settle into it as your chest, neck, and spine open up.
8. For Your Legs And Spine: Tree
Pregnancy can throw your sense of balance, so tree pose can be an empowering way to explore your strength and stability, as I've discovered in my pregnancy yoga classes. But do it safely: Stand next to a wall so you can catch yourself if you lose your balance, and don't put your foot on your thigh if you aren't confident of your ability to balance.
Tree pose is as much about rooting through the ground as it is about getting one leg up, so you'll still get the benefits if you just balance on your toes instead of lifting your foot completely off the ground, or if you press your raised foot against your calf instead of your thigh. (Pro tip for staying balanced: pick a spot on the ground to look at and stay focused on it.)
9. For Your Back And Groin: Garland
With both feet planted on the ground, and even perched on a stack of blankets if you prefer, garland pose keeps you stable while allowing you to control how much of a stretch you want to ease into. You'll feel it in your legs and back, and it comes recommended by Do You Yoga.
10. For Pretty Much Everything: Pigeon
Yoga Journal prescribed the humble pigeon pose, a powerhouse for pregnant women looking for an all-in-one stretch. You'll be strengthening your thighs, groin, psoas (large muscles that go from either side of your lower spine through the groin and help flex your hip), abdomen, chest, shoulders, and neck. Depending on how flexible you are, it may not necessarily be easy at first to get into, so only try what you are comfortable with, especially if you are not with an instructor to guide you.
With any of these moves, take your time and be patient with yourself. You may find that you can do more than you thought.
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