Prenatal Yoga: The Right Stretches for Your Final Stretch
For you pregnant moms-to-be, your prenatal yoga practice may have had few complications so far. For many, practicing yoga regularly during the first two trimesters requires little modification, if any.
However, things can change quite a bit during the third trimester. You may feel full, sick, or uncomfortable; you feel your baby shifting and kicking. One of the last things on your mind will be to break out the yoga mat for another strenuous set of poses. I urge you to forge forward because there are techniques that can help you during this last stretch.
Any good prenatal yoga practice, especially during the third trimester, should include a focus on modified asanas. Tweak your practice to include more poses for hips, thighs, hamstrings, the pelvis, and midsection; these areas are essential to birth and will better prepare you for labor and delivery.
Try doing a few pelvic tilts at the very beginning of your practice. These loosen you up, and strengthen the back and abdomen. To do a pelvic tilt, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. You’ll feel your lower back lift off the ground. While exhaling, move your hips to the left and make a circle; repeat on the other side to complete one set. Complete 5-10 before moving on.
Virasana (Hero’s Pose) and Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) are a great series for opening up your pelvic region and midsection. To modify, put your hand on a block placed vertically on the ground to ease the length of the stretch and increase support.
Hips, Thighs, and Hamstrings
Poses that provide an opening of the hips, thighs, and hamstrings, will serve as great conditioning for the big day. Baddha Konasana (Cobbler’s pose) and Suptha Baddha Konasana (Goddess pose) are a great pair of stretches for this purpose. With each, your knees are bowed out to form a triangle with your feet touching. In these poses, keep your spine straight and flex the muscles of your legs to bring them closer to your mat.
Be sure to use variations to support the extra weight and protect your spine. For Goddess pose, fold blankets and place them under your lower back to decrease the space created.
In the last few months, give your crunched midsection a break by trying a few side bend poses. Focus on lateral flexing to the left and right with a pose like Parighasana (or Gate Pose). Only if comfortable, try Parivrtta Janu Sirsana (Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose). These poses will make you feel longer, and strengthen the muscles between your ribs.
At this point, modifying your asanas is a vital part of your prenatal yoga practice. Support tools such as towels, blocks, and bands are excellent ways to still get a deep stretch without sacrificing the health of you and your baby.