15 Yoga Exercises That Are Safe For The Pregnant Mother & Baby
- A nutritious diet and exercise are a must during pregnancy.
- Exercise can help in promoting mental peace, and physical relaxation, ease pregnancy symptoms and create harmonious mental patterns.
- A constantly changing body during pregnancy can have several issues on a regular basis.
- It is essential to be mindful of your body while exercising during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a time when a woman needs to double the care that she bestows upon herself. Her little one growing inside her requires all the attention, care, and safety that she can give. Nurturing a fetus requires a healthy physical, mental and emotional state of mind. A nutritious diet and exercise are a must during pregnancy. One of the best ways to exercise is by practicing certain yoga exercises for pregnant women.
During pregnancy, it's essential to find motivation to move while also prioritizing rest. Certain yoga poses for pregnant women offer you the chance to get in touch with your body as you build strength, improve flexibility, and develop balance. These benefits of exercise help in promoting mental peace, and physical relaxation, ease pregnancy symptoms, benefit reproductive health and create harmonious mental patterns. It is helpful in learning how to adapt to all the changes that constantly occur in a woman's body during pregnancy.
Prenatal Yoga For The Mother And Her Baby
Here are some yoga exercises for pregnant mothers that are perfectly safe to perform.
1. Janu Sirsasana
Janu shirsasana is also called the head to knee forward bend. This forward bending technique is known to strengthen your back muscles, promote full-body relaxation, and stimulate the digestion process by trying these simple yoga poses. It can build up the lower body muscles like the back, hips, thighs, and legs.
To perform this asana:
- Be seated on the edge of a soft but firm cushion, block, or folded blanket with your left leg extended.
- Place the base of the left foot against the inner right thigh.
- Inhale and stretch out your arms overhead.
- Exhale to fold forward slightly, lengthening the front of your torso.
- Place your hands on your body or on the floor.
- Stay in this position for up to 1 minute.
- Repeat on the other side and feel the stretch.
2. Upavishta konasana
Upavishta konasana is also known as the wide-angled seated forward bend. This asana is known to increase flexibility in the lower portion of the back. It builds firmness in your spine, low back, and pelvis.
- Sit comfortably on a mat, cushion, block, or folded blanket.
- Spread your legs out to the side, allowing your pelvis to lean forward.
- Gently stretch your arms overhead.
- Bend at your hips and fold forward.
- Try to feel the stretch and hold your big toes.
- Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
- Be careful and slow while bending in this exercise as sudden movements can cause pain or discomfort.
3. Nadi shodhana pranayam
Nadi Shodhana translates to Nadi as in "flow" and Shodhana as "purification." Nadi Shodana is an alternate nostril breathing technique. It is known to release toxins, infuse oxygen in the blood, and restore hormonal balances.
- Start early in the morning on an empty stomach,
- Be seated comfortably in a cross-legged position or on a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
- Take a deep breath and follow up with a gentle exhalation.
- Repeat this several times till you feel your breath becoming rhythmic.
- Block your right nostril with your thumb and exhale through the left nostril.
- Alternate between nostrils and repeat this exercise for two to five minutes.
Manjrasana or the cat-cow yoga pose for pregnancy is performed only in the first six months and not beyond that.
To perform this asana:
- Get down on all fours, your back should be in a table-top position.
- Keep your knees hip-width apart; arms should be perpendicular to the floor and palms touching the mat.
- Inhale while raising your chin up and tilting your head backward.
- Lower your spine such that your back is in a concave position.
- Hold this pose for a while and exhale while dropping your head and chin down while arching your back.
- Stay in this position for a few seconds and come back to the normal position.
5. Baddha konasana
Baddha konasana also known as the butterfly stretch is known to boost circulation, stimulate your digestive organs, and promote full-body relaxation.
- Sit down on the edge of a cushion or a folded blanket such that your pelvis tilts forward.
- Bring the soles of your feet together.
- Draw your feet in toward your hips to feel a deep stretch.
- Root your lower body on the floor and try to lengthen your spine.
- Interlock your fingers under your feet or place hands on your ankles or shins.
- Hold this position for up to 1 minute
- Repeat 2-4 times and feel the relief.
Balasana is also known as the child's pose. This relaxing pose is known for relaxing the body and stretching your shoulders, chest, and low back. It increases flexibility in your spine, hips, and thighs.
- On a mat, get on all fours.
- Touch your big toes together and spread your knees wide open.
- Lower your hips back onto your heels.
- Stretch your arms in front of you.
- Breathe deeply and hold this pose for up to 1 minute.
- You can place a cushion or a soft blanket under your forehead for support.
- Feel free to widen your toes if you feel discomfort.
7. Shitali pranayam
Shitali breath translates to 'cooling breath' in Pranayama. It reduces the rampant thoughts in our brain by relaxing the nervous system. It also lowers blood pressure and acid reflux symptoms in the body.
- Sit down comfortably by aligning the back, neck, spine, and head.
- Relax and practice some diaphragmatic breathing while keeping the eye closed for some time.
- Open up your mouth, fold your tongue and curl your lips into an "O".
- Inhale deeply as you can through your rolled tongue.
- Focus on the cooling sensation of your breathing.
- Pull back the tongue and close the mouth while exhaling completely through the nostrils.
This strengthening poses also known as the triangle pose gives you energy while relieving neck and back tension.
- Stand up with your feet slightly wider than your hips.
- Turn your left foot forward and right toes in at a slight angle.
- Raise your arms so they're parallel to the floor with palms facing down.
- Extend your left hand forward as you tilt your hip to extend your torso forward.
- Place your left hand on your leg.
- Extend your right arm up with your palm facing away from your body.
- Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Doing the normal Uttanasana during pregnancy can be challenging. However, making slight changes in this pose can help you perform it in a more comfortable way.
To do this asana:
- Stand up straight with some distance in your feet.
- Place your arms at your sides, palms facing the thighs.
- Slowly take a deep breath and breathe in while raising your arms above your head.
- Bend forward while slowly exhaling.
- Have your hands behind your back and palms touching each other in the form of 'Namaskar Mudra'.
- You can skip this step if you are not comfortable.
- Hold this position for 15-30 seconds, then take a deep breath and come back to the starting position.
- Do 4-5 reps of this asana.
Virabhadrasana, also known as the Warrior pose, improves circulation, strengthens your whole body, and opens your hips. It can help relieves neck and back pain.
- Step your left foot back and turn your toes out to the left slightly.
- Align the inside of the left foot so it's in line with the right heel.
- Face to your side while opening your hips.
- Raise your arms to be parallel to the floor with your palms facing down.
- Bend your right knee such that it does not go beyond your ankle..
- Focus your eyes on your right hand's middle finger.
- Hold this pose for 30 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
11. Dirgha pranayama
Dirgha pranayama has the ability to purge the carbon dioxide from the lungs. It promotes mental clarity through proper oxygenation throughout the body. Dirgha pranayama also facilitates full potential diaphragmatic breathing.
To perform this pranayama:
- Find a comfortable spot and sit erect.
- Breathe in slowly, deeply, and fully and let your belly deflate and inflate like a balloon as you breathe.
- Now focus on your chest and let it inflate and deflate on breathing.
- With these rhythmic inhalations and exhalations open up the low and high chambers of your lungs in this process.
- Continue to do this breathing for 10-15 minutes to relax completely.
Malasana is also known as the garland pose. This is a deep squat position that opens your hips and speeds up digestion. It is best to avoid this pose if you're prone to prolapse.
- Stand up with your feet wide apart such that they are wider than your hips.
- Point your toes outwards at an angle.
- Take a deep breath.
- Place your heels flat on the floor.
- Slowly bend your knees and lower your hips.
- Press palms together at the center of your chest.
- Try to press your elbows into your knees.
- Hold this position for up to 30 seconds.
Sukhasana is also called the easy pose. This is a very simple and common pose of meditation. Usually performed in the morning hours, this yoga asana is best for beginners.
Here's how to perform sukhasana:
- Start by sitting straight on a folded towel or a yoga mat with your feet stretched out in front.
- Sit cross-legged such that your knees are bent, and each foot is under the knee.
- Now place your palms on your thighs or knees.
- Close your eyes to avoid distractions.
- Sit erect and make sure your spine is straight.
- Inhale and exhale normally and feel your body relax normally.
- Maintain this position for 10-15 minutes.
14. Ujjayi pranayam
Ujjayi pranayama detoxifies the mind and promotes mental clarity and the free flow of blood throughout the body. It helps in generating body heat and builds concentration and consciousness.
To perform this pranayam:
- Keep your mouth closed and breathe in and out only through your nose.
- Inhale slowly and deeply such that your lungs are filled with fresh oxygen.
- Constrict the muscles at the back of the throat and exhale slowly through your nose
- Repeat the steps above and continue for 10-15 minutes.
Tadasana is the basic yoga asana generally performed in the morning hours.
Here's how to perform this asana:
- Stand up with your feet hip-width apart.
- While standing, align your spine such that it's erect with your hands close to your body, and palms facing your thighs.
- The next step is to join your hands in the Namaskar Mudra.
- While inhaling deeply, stretch your spine and raise your hands above your head.
- Elongate your back and tilt your head back so that you can look up.
- Hold this position for 10-15 seconds, then return to normal position while exhaling slowly.
These yoga asanas are safe to perform for the mother and her child if done safely and correctly. Feel free to speak with your doctor before performing any of the above exercises.
Mindfulness in motherhood
Pregnancy can demand a lot from a woman's body. It is a necessity for all to-be-mothers to pay attention to the changing needs of their bodies. It is possible that one day an exercise might feel comfortable but at some other time, it triggers pain or uneasiness. During such times, it is essential to listen to your inner self and discontinue that movement.
A constantly changing body during pregnancy can have several issues on a regular basis. Be it constipation, diarrhea, bloating, lower abdominal pain, back pain, fluctuating blood pressure, lightheadedness, morning sickness, and many other ailments that are a constant concern during pregnancy. Being mindful of these changes and exercising accordingly is the best way to work out during pregnancy.
Read more : 5 Easy And Healthy Meals For Working Moms-to-be
Exercise is an essential part of life even when pregnant. Along with a nutritious diet, and necessary dietary supplements, exercise plays a vital role in maintaining the health of the mother and her baby. Heavy exercises like running, cycling, weight lifting, and so on are not recommended during pregnancy. However, studies have shown that yoga and breathing exercises (pranayamas) are mild to moderate level exercises that can benefit women during pregnancy.
Yogasanas, if performed correctly can improve circulation in the body, regulate hormones and bring peace and calm to the mind. These yoga poses for pregnant women can bring the much-needed balance to fluctuating states in pregnancy. Keeping in mind the sensitivity of pregnancy, it is important to listen to your body while performing these yoga positions for pregnant women. Taking it easy on sensitive days during pregnancy is a must.
So gear up, and start your daily workout routine with yoga and pranayam right away! Have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy life.
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- Kwon R, et al. A systematic review: The effects of yoga on pregnancy. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2020 Jul;250:171-177.