You’re in the home stretch, aka your third trimester. Or maybe you’ve already given birth. Either way, congratulations! Yoga can continue to support you during these significant life changes. Yoga teacher Allie Lindenmuth shows you a few poses you can work with both in your pregnancy’s final stages and postpartum to strengthen, stabilize, and stretch your body.
Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
Using the wall, begin to sit as if you were sitting in a chair, focusing on finding support and contact with the wall for your sacrum. Keep your ankles, knees and thighs hip-width apart. Bring intention to relaxing your face, in particular your jaw, as there is a major connection between the jaw and pelvic floor. (For example, when you squeeze your face, your jaw and pelvic floor naturally tighten.)
You can spend up to 3 minutes here focusing on pelvic floor breathing. To do this, on your inhalations, allow your pelvic floor muscles to soften. On your exhalations, draw in your naval and the pelvic floor.
A block between the thighs can feel really stabilizing and supportive. If this creates tension in your back, place the block between your ankles. This is a great posture to build up stamina, tone your legs and strengthen your entire body, especially your hips, thighs, calves, ankles, and feet.
See also Chair Pose
Agnistambhasana (Ankle-to-Knee Pose or Fire Log Pose)
Sit on the ground or on a blanket or bolster, and bring your left shin parallel with the top of your mat. Bring your right leg on top of your left, stacking your top ankle on top of your bottom knee. It is fine if your calves don’t stack on top of each other, as you can place a blanket in the gap between your top leg and your bottom leg or place your top leg just in front of the bottom leg. Flex your toes to protect your knees.
In Agnistambhasana, you can stay upright or pull the chest forward to deepen the posture. Focus on sending your tailbone back and your heart space forward. Spend about 10-12 breaths here. Switch sides when you feel ready. This shape is wonderful to offer mobility and strength to your hips and relieve tension in your lower back.
Use this comfortable yoga blanket to fill in any space between your top knee and bottom ankle.
Matsyasana (Fish Pose) Variation
Try this pose once you have been cleared to practice yoga by a medical professional after giving birth. Place one block on its middle height and one block on its highest height, both parallel to the top of the mat. The block on the highest height will go under your head and block the middle height will go just under your bra line. Bring a blanket under your behind to support your lower back. As you are ready, slowly recline onto the two blocks.
Your can elongate your legs if you are looking to stretch through your belly. If this variation of Matsyasana puts too much pressure on your lower back, bend both knees and place both feet flat on the floor to relieve tension in your back. Open your arms wide to find a nice opening across the chest. Rest here anywhere from 2-15 minutes. This shape offers many benefits, including relief for chest and shoulder tightness.
This yoga mat can support you in your practice.
Shoulder Stretch Against a Wall
Sit by a wall with one hip close to the baseboard. Walk the arm closest to the wall up the wall. Place your opposite hand on the floor next to your outer hip, and turn your torso away from the wall. Continue to walk your arm up the walk until you feel a gentle pull through your shoulder and neck. If you choose to continue twisting your torso, do so on your exhalations. Spend about 8-12 breaths here. Switch sides when you are ready.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) Variation
As the relaxin hormone settles into your pelvis, you could easily overstretch this region. The pubic symphysis is located at the very front of the pubic bone and many times subtly shifts when relaxin increases. This can cause a lot of discomfort in the pubic symphysis as well as radiate into the lower back, both during pregnancy and into your postpartum time.
To help get the pubic symphysis back into the proper position, you can practice this exercise, based on a supported Bridge Pose. From your back, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet to the floor hips width distance. Place a block on the widest width between your thighs, and squeeze the block with your legs. Keeping your lower back on the floor or a blanket, gently tilt your pubic bone forward and back. Practice this for about 8-12 rounds. You might even hear a click as the pubic symphysis pops back into place.
Try using this yoga block to help you activate your leg, hip, and core muscles in this pose.
See also More prenatal yoga offerings
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