Prenatal Yoga: 5 Psoas-Releasing Poses to Relieve Low Back Pain

This sequence helps to diminish many of the common discomforts and imbalances experienced in the low back, pelvis, and hips during pregnancy.

Baby bump doesn’t have to equal backache. Prenatal yoga expert Karly Treacy created this sequence to ease many of the common discomforts and imbalances in the back, pelvis, and hips during pregnancy.

The psoas (referring to the iliopsoas system) is the only muscle in the human body that connects the upper body to the lower body. Its primary function is to flex the leg at the hip. During pregnancy, as the pelvis tilts forward (essentially flexing at the hip) and the abdominal muscles stretch to accommodate the weight of the growing baby, the psoas shortens and tightens.

This contracted state of the psoas is responsible for several of the common discomforts in pregnancy. It can lead to low back pain, as the contracted state of the psoas can cause compression of the lower back vertebrae, generalized hip discomfort on one side or the other, and sacroiliac joint dysfunctions if the psoas is asymmetrically contracted (shorter and tighter on one side than the other). Any or all of the above can make pregnancy—especially sleeping during pregnancy—quite uncomfortable. We can alleviate these discomforts immensely, though, by releasing and opening the psoas with yoga.

Before we begin, it’s important to point out that we want to open the psoas without overstretching the abdominals so that we don’t risk creating diastasis recti (the tearing away of the rectus abdominis from the fibrous tissue that connects them). The following poses will soften and/or stretch the psoas safely to release any low back tension and balance the pelvis from right to left.

5 Psoas-Releasing Poses Safe for Pregnancy