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Pregnancy & Birth

Five of the best yoga postures for pregnancy

The yoga poses to help ease your pregnancy aches and pains.

By Emma Seibold
Pregnancy is pretty darn special. Not only is growing a life inside (with all the magic of little kicks and baby hiccups), but the expectant mumma is hyper aware of her body - how you move it and what goes into it. There are very few times where a woman is so focused on making her body a temple for the little one developing within.
Yoga is the perfect pregnancy exercise as it is gentle, yet builds strength, and certain postures can help to further prepare your body for labour.
Here are a few of the most beneficial prenatal yoga postures:
Trikonasana (triangle pose)
  1. Stand with your feet almost as wide as your outstretched arms, pointing one foot forward and the other foot at a 90◦ angle. Hint: the next pose will be easier if you do this posture with your back almost to a wall.
  1. Look towards the foot that is at the 90◦ angle and lean your torso body and stretch your arm toward it.
  1. Reach the same arm to take hold of your shin (gentle variation), ankle (stronger) or perhaps rest it on a block or the floor next to your foot (inside or outside – both are great)
  1. Reach your opposite arm straight up to the sky and look toward the thumb of that hand. If you experience tension in the neck doing this, look straight ahead instead or down towards other hand.
  1. Breathe slowly and deeply through the nose for 5-10 breaths.
  1. Slowly rise back up, returning to step 1 and repeat on the other side.
Standing postures energise your body and build strength and stamina during pregnancy. Triangle pose is also a gentle shoulder opener and can help alieviate the tendency for the shoulders to roll inwards as the pregnancy progresses.
Ardha chandrasana (half-moon pose)
  1. From step 1 of triangle pose, bend the knee of the 90◦ foot and reach your hand to the floor about 20-30cms in front of the foot, using the wall behind you for balance if you need it.
  1. Rest your opposite hand flat on your hip/side waist.
  1. Slowly straighten the bent knee while at the same time the back foot floats off the floor and lifts up to be in line with the hip.
  1. Leave your hand on your hip (gentle variation) or reach it towards the sky.
  1. Look down toward your foot for balance (easiest for balance), out to the side (harder) or up towards the thumb of the arm that is reaching to the sky.
  1. Breathe slowly and deeply through the nose for 5-10 breaths.
  1. Slowly rise back up, returning to step 1 and repeat on the other side.
Half-moon pose is also energizing, building strength as well as balance. It opens the pelvis and boosts circulation in the legs.
Upavista konasana (wide angle seated forward bend)
  1. Sitting, open your legs out wide (but not too wide).
  1. Flex the toes and align the toes, skins, knees and thighs so the tops are pointing straight up (ie. avoid rolling them inwards).
  1. Sit up tall with a long spine and rest your hands behind your buttocks with fingertips pointing forwards.
  1. Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose for 5-10 breaths.
  1. Keeping the spine long and flat, bend forward gently to wherever you are comfortable and achieving a nice stretch.
  1. Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose for 5-10 breaths.
Malasana (garland pose/yogic squat)
  1. Stand with your feet a little wider than hip distance pointing your toes out to 10 and 2 on a clock.
  1. Bring your hands to prayer position in front of your heart.
  1. Bend your knees over your toes to come into the yogic squat. You may need to step your feet wider to get your heels down.
  1. You might like to sit on a block while you do this pose.
  1. Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose for 10-20 breaths.
During pregnancy, and particularly in the third trimester, this posture helps to mobilise the hips and pelvis and prepare for labour and delivery. This is a wonderful pose for active labour.
Baddha konasana (butterfly pose)
  1. Sitting, bring your feet together in front of you and open the souls of the feet like a book.
  1. Sit tall and straighten your arms.
  1. Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose for 5-10 breaths.
  1. Keeping the spine long and flat, bend forward gently to wherever you are comfortable and achieving a nice stretch.
  1. Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose for 5-10 breaths.
This is a beautiful opening pose, making space in the pelvis for the baby. It is also beneficial during the earlier months as it can ease nausea.
Bonus: Savansana
Have a little lie down. You’ve earned it. Lie on your left side and use cushions/blankets or a bolster (whatever you have on hand) to make yourself comfortable for 5-10 minutes of much-needed rest. Savasana is my favourite prenatal pose of all as it helps to relieve anxiety and fatigue and activates the para-sympathetic nervous system, allowing for much needed rest and rejuvenation.
Emma Seibold is mumma (soon to be a mumma of two), a yoga, pilates & barre teacher, health coach, and founder of Barre Body (studios in Sydney & Melbourne).

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