Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
Vata governs the body’s changes during pregnancy, but can easily be thrown out of balance. Practice the following Vata-focused sequence to help balance and nourish your pregnant body so you can enjoy the experience of this incredible time.
Any Ayurveda-informed asana practice can help mamas-to-be stay balanced through pregnancy. According to Ayurveda, apana, or downward-moving energy, is responsible for the healthy development of the baby and for carrying to full term. But accompanied by stress, fatigue (which we all feel when pregnant), and the changes that occur in the mind and body, apana often creates an imbalance in Vata. It’s Vata that governs the body’s changes during pregnancy. And when Vata is out of balance, the mother can feel anxious, depleted, and exhausted. She may also struggle to feel joy during pregnancy and be at a greater risk of suffering from postpartum depression.
Practice the following Vata-focused sequence to help balance and nourish your pregnant body so you can enjoy the experience of this incredible time.
Gentle Ujjayi Breath
Inhale and exhale slowly through the nose with a soft constriction at the base of the throat. Counting the lengths of the inhales and exhales, try to balance them at 3, 4, or 5 counts. Keep this breath throughout your practice.
Downward-Facing Dog, wide-legged variation
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Come in to Downward-Facing Dog with the legs about as wide as the mat. Hold for 6–8 breaths.
Standing Forward Bend
From Downward-Facing Dog, walk your hands back to meet your feet. Heel-toe the feet toward one another until they are slightly wider than hip-distance apart. Keep a slight bend in the knees and clasp the elbows overhead. Hang in Uttanasana for 4–6 breaths. Then come up slowly to deter lightheadedness.
NOTE: This pose should be avoided if baby is breech.
Lower into a squat, taking the feet as far apart as your body needs to allow the hips to sink down. Bring the hands together in front of the heart. Press the elbows in to the inner knees and vice versa to widen across the collarbones and shoot your heart to the sky. Hold for 6–8 breaths.
If this feels too demanding, you can use a block for support.
See also The Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
Wide-Legged Seated Forward Fold
Sit with the legs in a wide V-shape. A 90-degree angle is sufficient. Check in to see that you are sitting on top of the sitting bones. If you feel yourself rounding in to the lower back, grab a blanket, bolster or roll up your mat to sit on so that you have a bit of height and can sit directly on top of the sitting bones. Keeping the legs neutral with the knees and all 10 toes facing the sky, with a long spine, fold forward using the hands planted in front to help support the length. Hold for 8–10 breaths.
Create a recliner by placing 2 blocks beneath a bolster. The block under the head is always one level higher than the block at the middle. Lie back onto the bolster. Use another bolster beneath the knees to support the legs in Baddha Konasana (soles of the feet together) or the legs extended straight forward. Simply rest here for 5–10 minutes.
About Our Expert
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.