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Pregnancy can be a beautiful, transformative time—and it can simultaneously be filled with anticipation, worry, and uncertainty. In the first few months of my pregnancy, my fears about the future crowded out my joy for the present. Luckily, each time I stepped onto my yoga mat, my practice helped me listen to my body and truly embrace the changes I was experiencing that were beyond my control. Becoming an active observer of that process, rather than a passive recipient of my body’s changes, was incredibly empowering. I created this prenatal practice to help you do the same. Use this sequence to check in with yourself, quiet fears and negative mental chatter, and ultimately move into a place of deep trust.
1. If your pregnancy is high risk, if your baby is breech, if you’re expecting twins, or if you have any other medical concerns, talk to your doctor before practicing yoga.
2. Adjust this sequence throughout your pregnancy by skipping poses that don’t feel good in your body—or by using blocks, bolsters, and blankets as props.
1. Sukhasana (Easy Pose)
Begin by coming into a comfortable cross-legged position. Allow your palms to face up or down on your thighs. Then bring your palms to your belly, close your eyes, and begin to take long, deep breaths in and out through your nose. Stay here for at least 1 minute, allowing your breath to become steady and rhythmic.
2. Side Bends
Open your eyes and extend one arm out to the side with your hand on the ground. Reach your opposite arm overhead, palm facing the midline, and lean over toward your extended arm. While in the side bend, breathe deeply and lift the bottom of your waist toward the sky to prevent compression of your lower back and abdomen. Fan open your side ribs and take 3–5 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.
See also 6 Vata-Balancing Poses for Pregnancy
3. Sufi Rolls
Take both hands to your knees and begin to draw big circles with your chest around the midline. On each inhalation, bring your heart and chest forward; on each exhalation, draw your chest back. You can make the circles as wide or small as you like. Take 5–10 rotations in one direction, then repeat 5–10 rotations in the other direction.
4. Cat and Cow
Come into Tabletop with your knees on a folded blanket. On an inhalation, reach your sternum through the gateway of your arms, creating a heart opening in your chest (Cow Pose, shown). On an exhalation, round through your upper back and spread your shoulder blades. Press down evenly into both hands and draw your chin in toward your sternum (Cat Pose). Repeat each pose 5–10 times each.
5. Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)
Tuck your toes under and walk your hands back until your sitting bones rest on your heels. Place your hands in any position that feels comfortable, close your eyes, and breathe into the sensations. Hold for 10 breaths.
6. Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose, variation)
Walk your hands forward, returning to Tabletop. Step your right foot back and spin it flat so the outer edge of your right foot is parallel to the back of your mat. Walk your left hand forward a few inches and spin your chest open, reaching your right arm toward the sky. Press down through your left palm. Take 3–5 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
7. Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II)
Come up to stand and step your feet about 4 feet apart, parallel to one another. Turn your right leg outward 90 degrees and bend your right knee, moving toward stacking it above your ankle. (If your knee extends beyond your toes, widen your stance.) Extend your arms parallel to your mat, and gaze to the front or over your right fingertips, whichever feels most comfortable. Take 5–10 deep breaths here, then repeat on the other side.
8. Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
Come back to Warrior II on your right side, then straighten your bent leg and reach forward with your right arm before lowering it to the floor or a block (placed next to, or just behind, your right foot). Press down through your right palm as you raise your left arm skyward, stacking your wrists and opening your chest as much as feels comfortable for you. Stay here for 5 breaths, then return to Warrior II, and repeat on the left side.
9. Temple pose, variation
Bring your hands to your hips and turn both heels in toward your midline, externally rotating your femur bones in your hip sockets while pointing your toes outward (to any degree). Bend your knees, and reach your arms forward or overhead, coming into Temple Pose. Press down through your feet to straighten your legs, and bring your hands back to your hips or heart center. Repeat these squats 5–10 times.
See also 10 Poses Younger Than Yoga Journal
10. Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend, variation)
Step your feet about 4 feet apart, toes slightly turned in. Interlace your fingers behind your back; if that’s not accessible, hold the end of a strap in each hand. Hinging at the waist, fold forward over your thighs. Stay here for 5–10 breaths. Option: lower your hands to the mat, and place a block between your legs. Bring one hand to the block and send the other hand skyward, opening your chest while keeping your hips in a neutral position. Take 3–5 breaths; repeat this twist on the other side.
11. Malasana (Garland Pose)
Come to the top of your mat, stepping your feet a little bit wider than hip-width apart. Turn your toes outward 45 degrees, and bring your heels onto a folded blanket. Bend your knees as much as your hips will allow. (If your baby is breech or if you are having twins, don’t drop your hips lower than your knees.) Bring your hands to your heart center and use your elbows to help open your knees. Lift your sternum, drop your tailbone, and take 10 deep breaths here.
12. Hanumanasana (Monkey God Pose, variation)
From Malasana, come to stand and place two blocks near the inner edges of your feet. Bring your hands to the blocks. Step your left foot back, then lower your knee to the mat (or to a folded blanket). Stay here, or bring your elbows to the blocks (shown). Maybe even lean back to straighten your right leg, stacking your hips over your left knee. Fold forward inside your right leg, and stay here for 5–10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
See also The New Prenatal Yoga
13. Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend)
Come to a seated position with your legs together and extended in front of you in
Dandasana (Staff Pose). Next, bring both legs outward (your legs should form a right angle, approximately, with your pubis at the apex). Rotate your thighs outward and flex your ankles, keeping your knees and toes pointing skyward. Inhale to lengthen your spine; exhale to fold forward any amount that’s comfortable for your body. Stay here
for 5–10 deep breaths.
See also The Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
14. Tarasana (Star Pose)
Return into a comfortable seated position, perhaps sitting on a folded blanket, and bring the soles of your feet together. Rather than pull your heels in toward your pubis, drag them away from your body, creating a large diamond shape with your legs. Inhale and lengthen your spine; exhale and fold forward, reaching your forehead toward your toes. Stay here for 5–10 deep breaths.
15. Seated Meditation
Roll up to a cross-legged seat, and open your arms so they are parallel to the floor, palms facing up. Firm your triceps, then begin to flip your palms, downward then up, creating a rhythm. Do this for at least 2 minutes, increasing the length of this exercise by 30-second intervals as you build strength. It should feel challenging to keep your arms parallel to the ground; this exercise is designed to help you mentally prepare for labor. Once you’re finished, rest your hands on your thighs.
16. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
Place one block on the high setting and another one, a few inches away from it, on the medium setting; place a bolster over both blocks on an incline and lie back. Keep the soles of your feet together for Supta Baddha Konasana, or extend both legs out for a Savasana (Corpse Pose) variation. Close your eyes and allow your body to relax completely, resting here for at least 5 minutes.