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Poses for Your Hamstrings

Prenatal Yoga: The Secret to Preventing Postnatal Saggy Butt

A droopy butt is a common side effect of pregnancy but you can prevent it—or correct it—by strengthening the right muscles.

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A droopy butt is a common side effect of pregnancy but you can prevent it—or correct it—by strengthening the right muscles.

The mamas I work with postnatally often want to address a bum that’s dropped to the backs of their knees. This is common in pregnancy, but can be prevented—or corrected.

Pre-pregnancy, most of us have tight hip flexors from our habits in daily life—sitting in cars and at desks—and they pull the pelvis forward, over-arching the curve of the lumbar spine (lordosis). During pregnancy, as the weight of the baby increases, the pelvis accommodates by tipping further forward. This tipping of the pelvis stretches the hamstrings, making it much more difficult to engage them.

If we don’t do anything to try to keep the hamstrings active, they get weak and other muscles—mainly the quadriceps—begin to compensate. This pattern creates imbalances in the body and result in a weakening of the glutes. Ultimately, the back body becomes “lazy” as the front body takes over. That’s when we see the dreaded flattened bum dropping toward the backs of the knees. If we keep the hamstrings awake and strong during pregnancy (I like to use two different kinds of squats), we can minimize the development of these imbalances, keeping the rear right where it belongs!

3 Ways to Keep Your Butt Lifted

Deep Squat

deep squat

The hamstrings are three separate muscles. This squat with the heels slightly raised activates the outer hamstrings and calves.

Roll up a yoga mat or towel and stand with heels on it. Step your feet to slightly wider than hip-width apart. Externally rotate your legs so that when you squat down your knees fall in line with your second and third toes. Working with the breath, inhale to squat, lowering your hips past knee level, and exhale to rise. Start with 25 rounds and work your way up to 80.

Note: The depth of the squat varies in every body. If it is possible in your body to lower your hips to your heels, without any knee discomfort, then go for it! The key is maximum range of motion, with muscle engagement and without discomfort.

See also Prenatal Yoga: A Pelvic Floor Sequence for an Easier Labor + Delivery

Wide Second-Position Squat

wide squat

This squat will target the inner hamstrings.

Step your feet 3–4 feet apart. Externally rotate the legs and bend the knees, aligning them with your second and third toes. Working with the breath, inhale to squat, dropping the hips to knee height, and exhale to rise. Draw the low belly in and up. Keep the crown of the head lengthening to the sky and the tailbone reaching toward the earth. Start with 25 rounds and work your way up to 80.

See alsoNew Study Finds More Yoga Poses Safe During Pregnancy

Engage Your Hamstrings More

triangle pose

You can begin engaging your hamstrings in almost every yoga posture. To find that engagement, you want to practice feeling the muscular connection from the heel to the sitting bone. For example in Crescent Lunge, imagine a string connecting the front leg heel to the sitting bone and the same for the back leg. It quite literally might just start as a conversation, but over time those muscles wake up and the hamstrings engage more easily.

See also Q+A: Grace Flowers on Pregnancy + Living Wholeheartedly

About our expert

side plank variation, vasistasana

Los Angeles-based yoga teacher Karly Treacy began her practice more than 20 years ago. A student of Annie Carpenter, Karly understands the awareness of body and strength that comes from precise alignment. A mother of three, Karly credits yoga for teaching her that all of life is a practice, especially motherhood and that our children, our bodies, and our environment all are our teachers.

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