Yoga Stretches to try during Pregnancy
Yoga is meant to be relaxing, delivering gentle stretches to energise you. There’s lots of yoga classes around and lots of different types of yoga, but there’s fewer pregnancy yoga specialists than regular teachers. If you find a good teacher, stick with them, but even if you don’t, there’s some basic yoga poses (asanas) that you can try at home. You don’t immediately come super fragile just because you’re pregnant, and you may be surprised by how much you can bend – and in some cases, just how restorative yoga can feel. Give these a go!
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Stand straight with your feet hip width (or a few centimetres wider, but no further) apart. Inhale and stretch your arms up to the ceiling, straightening them and touching your palms together. Exhale and feel the equal balance between your feet. Pull your palms apart but facing each other and keep your arms in line with your ears and keep reaching up toward the ceiling. Ease back slightly at the lower back for a tiny back bend (really tiny, just a few centimetres!) and keep your arms in line with your ears. Keep breathing and when you feel you need to, come back up to centre. You may feel some shuddering or wobbling, and if so, micro-bend your knees. Don’t hold this for too long: it can feel quite intense quite quickly!
Cat/Cow Pose (Marjarisana/Bitilasana) – for the first 26 weeks of pregnancy only
Get onto all fours with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. With your in-breath, lift your chest, head and tailbone to the ceiling, sinking your tummy down. As you exhale, invert this: pushing your tailbone and head down and arching your back up (almost like a Halloween- scared cat type of silhouette). Keep doing this slowly in time with inhale and exhale. This is a great gentle warmer for your spine and may crack and click: this is fine, as long as it doesn’t hurt!
Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana)
This should be done on both sides, so repeat on the other once you’ve done it. Standing with your feet hip-width apart, lift one foot and place it back, about 3 feet away. Keep the feet hip-width apart (or a little wider, if it’s comfortable) and keep the back foot at an angle of about 45 degrees. The front leg should be bent, with the knee above the ankle or slightly further back, but no further forward. Try and equalise your balance between both feet and then raise your arms up straight above your head, in line with your ears. Take some deep breaths here and when you’re ready, step the back foot forward to then try the other side.
If you’re intending to practice yoga or other sport during your pregnancy, let your doctor or midwife know. They may also be able to recommend a good teacher or studio and to give advice on how long and what type of yoga you should try out.