Pregnancy is a beautiful period in any woman’s life. It is also known as gestation and is the time during which an offspring (the young ones of living organisms) develops inside a woman. 

Pregnancy usually lasts for about 40 weeks (9 months) and is divided into 3 primary segments or trimesters. Women need to take proper care of themselves during pregnancy, right from their diet to their exercises. 

Most women benefit from exercising regularly throughout their pregnancies. Today, yoga during pregnancy (also known as prenatal yoga) has become a popular choice amongst women. 

Yoga, a mind and body practice, that originated in ancient India, encompasses a combination of different physical postures, breathing, and relaxation techniques along with a feeling of spirituality. It is highly recommended for pregnant women. 

In today’s article, we will look at:

A) 5 common yoga poses that women can do during their pregnancy.

B) Dos and don’ts for pregnant women while doing yoga.

C) Yoga poses that pregnant women should avoid.

5 Yoga Poses to do During Pregnancy

1. Marjariasana (Cat Stretch): Marjari means cat and asana is the pose, hence Marjariasana. This pose keeps the spine flexible, stretches the neck and the shoulders, and also relieves stiffness. 

It is recommended for pregnant women during their first trimester (week 1 to the end of week 12). 

  • It is a deal for the back which has to support more weight as the pregnancy advances. 

  • It improves blood circulation, ensuring that the reproductive organs are well-nourished.

Steps to do:

  1. Bend down on your knees so that your knees touch the floor, form a table, where your back should represent a tabletop, and hands and feet should represent the legs of the table.

  2. Keep your hands in line with your knees and keep your arms perpendicular (at 90 degrees) to the floor. This is your starting position.

  3. Look straight ahead so that your spine bends a little in a concave fashion.

  4. Now, inhale with a deep breath and raise your head while putting stress on your spine in a downward direction.

  5. Expand your abdomen mildly and fill your lungs with air as much as possible.

  6. Hold your breath for about 3 seconds.

  7. Exhale and lower your head. This will cause the stretch in your spine in an upward direction.

  8. Then, contract the expanded abdomen mildly and pull in your buttocks.

  9. Leave your head between your arms, facing your thighs.

  10. Hold your breath for about 3 seconds, stretching the arch of the spine and contracting the abdomen.

  11. Relax and repeat in 3 to 5 reps or repetitions.

2. Konasana (Angle Pose): This pose stretches the sides of your body. It is recommended for pregnant women during their first trimester (week 1 to the end of week 12). 

  • It helps the ovaries to function properly and strengthens the uterus. 

  • Helps alleviate constipation, which is a common symptom of pregnancy. 

Steps to do:

  1. Stand straight with your feet, 24 inches apart. You can take the support of the wall.

  2. Breathe in and raise your left arm keeping your elbow straight.

  3. Give a nice upward stretch and then bend sideways towards your left.

  4. Exhale and put your hand down.

  5. Repeat the same with the other side.

3. Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose): The prenatal warrior pose is considered safe during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. This pose is known to strengthen your legs and also help boost your mental health.

  • It tones the arms, legs, and lower back.

  • Improves balance and stability.

  • Improves focus. Warrior pose teaches body awareness and helps in body-mind-connection.

  • Helps in blood circulation and respiration.

Steps to do:

  1. Place your feet hip-width apart.

  2. Pivot on your left foot and make your right foot face forward. The arch of your left foot must be in line with your right foot.

  3. Lower your pelvis and form a lunge. 

  4. Breathing in, lift your arms above your head, with the palms facing upwards.

  5. Exhale and then bend your right knee, keeping it in line with your ankle, and simultaneously bring your right thigh parallel to the ground.

  6. Turn your head to the right, and look across your right hand.

  7. Hold the pose for as long as it is comfortable for you and breathe a few times.

  8. Inhale, straighten your right leg.

  9. Exhale and bring down your arms.

  10. Repeat on the other side

Things to remember: 

  1. Ensure that you practice this asana next to a wall or have a chair beside you for support.

  2. Do this asana in someone’s presence, in case you lose your balance.

  3. As your pregnancy progresses, lessen your feet widening to reduce the strain on your pelvic floor.  

4. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose): Pregnant women can try a modified triangle pose to regain their balance since their centre of gravity usually shifts and is weak during pregnancy. 

It is recommended to practice this pose during the second and third trimesters.

  • This pose stretches and opens the hips (groin and hamstring muscles). This help supports the lower back and will be helpful during the delivery.

  • It reduces back pain and stress on your lower back.

Steps to do:

  1. Face forward.

  2. Step one foot forward and align the edge of your other foot backwards. Your front toes should face forwards and your back foot should be perpendicular (at 90 degrees) to your front foot.

  3. Open your arms into a wide “ T-shape” and slide your shoulders away from your ears, opening your chest.

  4. Inhale deeply.

  5. Now, look down towards your toes and shift your pelvis backwards

  6. Rest your front hand on your shin/on the inside of your front foot.

  7. Raise your other hand in an upward direction towards the sky, lifting your pelvic floor.

  8. Look above, towards your other hand.

  9. Exhale as you tilt forward.

  10. Breathe deeply around 3 to 5 times.

  11. Return to your normal posture.

  12. Repeat this, changing the position of the legs.

5) Badhakonasana (Butterfly Pose): It is believed one of the most important yoga poses for women to induce labour, hence this pose is mostly recommended during late pregnancy. 

It stretches the inner thighs, groin (the junctional area between the abdomen and the thigh) and helps open your hips. 

  • This exercise strengthens the entire pelvic area which is very important for easy labour. 

  • It alleviates fatigue and helps facilitate a smooth delivery when practised until late pregnancy.

Steps to do:

  1. Sit up straight. Use padding under your buttocks or sit against a wall to support your back.

  2. Bending your knees, bring the soles of your feet together.

  3. Gently guide your knees towards the floor.

  4. Bring your feet as close to your body as is comfortable for you.

  5. Push the outer edges of your feet firmly onto the floor and wrap your hands around your feet/ankles.

Tips for Doing Yoga During Pregnancy

1. Avoid headstands and shoulder stand poses.

2. For the first trimester of pregnancy, do standing yoga poses. This will help strengthen the legs and enhance circulation. It can even reduce leg cramps.

3. During the second and third trimesters, reduce the time spent holding asanas (yoga poses) to prevent fatigue. Substitute with breathing exercises and meditation.

4. During the advanced stages of pregnancy, avoid yoga asanas that put pressure on the abdomen.

5. Avoid practising yoga from the 10th to the 14th week of pregnancy since these are crucial times.

Poses to Avoid During Pregnancy

Pregnant women should listen to their bodies and do only as much as they can without undue effort. Inversion poses must be avoided during pregnancy.

Inversion exercises or poses are techniques where one is suspended upside down to stretch the spine and relieve back pain. It includes:

  • Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)

  • Ardha Matsyendrasana (Sitting Half Spinal Twist)

  • Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

  • Viparita Shalabhasana (Superman Pose)

  • Halasana (Plow Pose)

It is advisable to consult a doctor before taking up any yoga schedule during pregnancy. 

Practising yoga helps boost your mental and physical health, yet it is not a substitute for any medication or treatment. It is essential to learn and practice yoga under the supervision of a trained yoga teacher. 

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.