Prenatal Yoga is of great support to deal with the physical, emotional and hormonal changes that women experience during pregnancy. Especially during the third trimester, when the belly becomes bigger, we might become tired easily, and experience the bittersweet emotions of the end of the pregnancy.
In this post I share some key prenatal yoga poses that helped me to feel better during the third trimester and be ready for my journey into motherhood. It’s a gentle sequence of movement and grounding poses that energises the body, helps to relax and also to prepare for the arrival of your baby.
How to practice
Move or rest at the rhythm of your breath and enjoy every single moment and sensation.
Prioritize fluid movement and stability over flexibility. Don’t practice any pose that feels uncomfortable. Use blankets, bolsters, pillow to adapt the pose and find what feels good.
At the end of the sequence rest on your left side as long as you need. Put a pillow between your legs or bend the upper leg and put a bolster underneath to be more confortable. Cover yourself with a blanket, and breath consciously to relax.
BADDHAKONASANA, BUTTERFLY POSE
Baddhakonasana, butterfly pose, is a very beneficial pose during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. It increases the circulation and relax the pelvic floor, it also stretches and opens up the hips, thighs and pelvic muscles. It also helps in fluid retention which is a significant problem during pregnancy, and aids digestion.
You can also practice Baddhakonasana in a dynamic way, arching and rounding the back when you inhale and exhale. This movement will also provide relief to your back as well as open the chest and heart space.
The butterfly pose is also a great meditative pose and you can put pillows or blocks underneath your knees for support. You can hold the feet, ankles or shins with your hands to keep the spine straight.
PARIVRTTA JANU SIRSASANA
This pose is ideal to relieve lower back pain and create space for the lungs, facilitating the breath. Janu sirsasana is also a side bend, a hamstring opener, a hip opener, and even a shoulder opener. On an inhale, reach your arms overhead, and on an exhale lean toward the left, placing your left elbow on your leg or on a block with the palm facing up.
It is important to prefer stability over flexibility, so don’t push the body into the pose, just enjoy the stretching. Remain for 5 breaths or more if you enjoy it. Come out very slowly on an inhale, slowly lifting both arms up. Switch side.
BRAHMANASANA, TABLE TOP POSE
Table top pose is very beneficial during pregnancy. This pose helps in taking the pressure out of your belly and back and therefore is very good for the last trimester. You can practice different variations. Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana – Bitilasana) inhaling with your spine straight and looking up, and exhaling hugging the belly in and looking to the navel.
You can also move freely to the back and to the front and make circles with your coccyx, following the rhythm of your breath. You can extend one leg at the time and make circles with your ankles.
Move as long as the practice feels good, your belly will feel great and your back will feel relaxed. Exhale through the mouth to release any tension and relax the jaws.
BRAHMANASANA, TABLE TOP POSE VARIATIONS
From table top pose you can practice different variations that activate the legs and also engage the upper body. You can extend one leg and one arm and look up to stretch the side and front body and open the heart space.
To keep opening the chest, find support with one elbow over one knee and bend the other elbow to draw wide circles with the arm. Follow the movement with your gaze inhaling up, exhaling down.
Repeat the movements an equal amount of time for the two sides of your body. Put a blanket under your knees if they are sensitive. Take a rest whenever you need.
UTTANA SHISHOSANA, EXTENDED PUPPY POSE
Extended puppy pose is a modification of downward facing dog. This pose is ideal to stretch and lengthen the upper body, shoulder and chest.
Separate your knees wider than your hips until you feel comfortable and to create space for the belly. Walk your hands forward until you can rest your forehead on the floor, blanket or pillow. Keep the hips high. Press your palms into the floor, keep your arm strong, and slightly curl the armpits under. You can also practice this pose on the forearms, extending one arm and then the other.
This is a great pose to practice awareness of pelvic floor muscles (Mula bandha). When you inhale squeeze your vagina walls in and up, and when you exhale, release completely.
PRASARITA PADOTTANASANA VARIATION, WIDE-LEGS FORWARD BENDING
Standing forward bending are very good during pregnancy, but it is better to practice only if we feel comfortable and prop enough to enjoy the pose.
Widen the legs as much as you need and when ready bend forward. You can use blocks or a chair to feel comfortable. I like to practice it in dynamic way, bringing one hand up to the sky and then the other, alternating the movement. Bending the knees one at the time generates also a fluid, nice movement in the legs and hips.
Be gentle with your body and follow the sensations and feeling that the movement awakens in you. Slowly go back up to finish, by bringing the hand on your knees and lifting the belly and torso up in a standing position.
UTKATA KONASANA, GODDESS POSE
This was my favourite pose during pregnancy. Not only it helps strengthening the physical body strength but it also helps to nurture trust and confidence, that we greatly need to prepare for birth.
Take a wide stance along the yoga mat, turn the feet out at a slight angle, making sure heels are in line with each other. Bend the knees, stacking them directly above the ankles. Bring hands to form a shape like an opening flower in front of the heart centre; the outside edges of the little fingers and inside edges of the thumbs touch, and the heels of the hands stay connected.
You can practice and explore variations of this pose. Inhaling straightening the legs and arms up and exhaling bending the knees and arms down to the heart. You can open the arms to the sides and breath to strengthen the legs. You can make fluid and watery movement with the arms and the hips, like a dance, to create space and mobility in the hips and arms joints.
This is a restorative pose that allow to rest against the wall. It is a very useful pose to use between two contractions. You can also use during the first stage of labour letting the hips moving freely (for ex.: making circles or the 8 shape) while you find support against the wall.
MALASANA, GARLAND POSE
Garland pose provides quite amazing stretch to the groin area, opening the hips, and helps to make space in the pelvis to prepare for birth giving. Use blocks underneath your buttocks to be more comfortable. Don’t practice after 33 weeks if your baby is in breech position.
BALASANA, WIDE KNEE CHILD’S POSE
This pose helps in releasing the pressure of your belly when it’s growing bigger. It releases stress from your whole back, belly, and knees. Stay here as long as it feels good.
Yoni mudra, a downward pointing triangle that you create with your hands on your belly, is the gesture of the Yoni: the uterus. You can use it while you practice conscious breathing to connect with your Yoni Shakti and nurture your womb, where your baby is growing. It helps you to detached from the world, just like the baby in the womb and it gives a sense of safety and trust in your body, womb and your capacity to give birth.