5 Yoga Moves You Can Do Right Now to Relieve Pregnancy Pain and Discomfort – Olivia Trueblood
"Child's Pose is a deeply relaxing, restorative yoga posture that helps release tension in the lower back, hips, and shoulders while cultivating a grounded, calm feeling. It also aids in digestion and can help ease discomfort in the abdomen. "
You’re pregnant! You’re excited! You’re in pain! Though I’ve never been pregnant myself, I know that it is a transformative and beautiful journey that can also come with its fair share of discomfort. Many expectant mothers experience various physical challenges including backaches, hip pain, swollen body parts, and general discomfort. Besides all of the mental health benefits that a yoga practice can bring, yoga offers a safe and effective way to alleviate pregnancy discomfort while promoting relaxation and overall well-being (exactly how you want to feel while carrying!).
My favorite thing about yoga is that it’s made for everyone, all shapes, sizes, physical ability or disability levels, ages, and genders. You don’t even really need any special equipment, an expensive mat, or $150 leggings. No one should feel like they can’t “do” it, because as long as you make it to the mat (or just your living room floor) and you breathe, congrats, you’re doing yoga.
Keeping conscious of your breath along the way is actually what makes the physical movement “yoga.” Point being, the breath brings life to the pose and also brings the greatest physical and mental benefits when combined with the pose. So don’t forget to breathe while you’re considering the following! Here are five yoga moves you can do RIGHT NOW that can help relieve pregnancy pain and discomfort.
1. Cat/Cow Pose
Cat/Cow pose is a gentle and soothing movement that helps to release tension in the spine and improve flexibility. It is especially beneficial for relieving backaches and increasing mobility in the pelvis.
How to do it:
- Start on all fours with your hands directly beneath your shoulders and your knees hip-width apart.
- Inhale deeply and gently arch your back, lifting your head and tailbone towards the ceiling. This is the cow pose.
- As you exhale, round your spine upwards, tucking your chin towards your chest and pressing away from the ground through your hands. This is the cat pose.
- Repeat this flowing movement, inhaling and exhaling with the corresponding pose. Continue for 5-10 rounds, gradually increasing the fluidity and depth of the stretches.
2. Bridge Pose
Bridge pose is excellent for relieving lower back pain, strengthening the legs, and opening the hips. It also encourages better blood circulation and helps reduce swelling in the legs and feet.
How to do it:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
- Place a folded blanket or bolster under your sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of your spine) for support if desired.
- Slowly lift your hips off the ground, pressing your feet down into the floor.
- Support your lower back by keeping your hands flat with palms pressing into the ground or place them on your belly to let your hips, legs, and feet do more of the work.
- Breathe deeply and hold the pose for 15 seconds to 1 minute, focusing on lifting your hips. Repeat as needed.
3. Child’s Pose
Child’s Pose is a deeply relaxing, restorative yoga posture that helps release tension in the lower back, hips, and shoulders while cultivating a grounded, calm feeling. It also aids in digestion and can help ease discomfort in the abdomen. This particular Child’s Pose description will set you up for the supported version of the pose which will accommodate the pregnant belly.
How to do it:
- Start on your hands and knees, keeping your knees wider than hip-width apart.
- Bring your big toes to touch, and sit back on your heels.
- Place a bolster, pillow, or folded blankets in front of you between your knees and slowly lower your torso onto the support. The cushion should be long enough to allow you to rest your belly and your forehead on it.
- Extend your arms forward or let them rest alongside your body, palms facing up to the sky.
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply, allowing your body to relax and release tension. Stay for a few breath cycles.
- TIP: for smaller bellies, having no cushion may be preferred.
4. Triangle Pose
Triangle Pose is a standing pose that helps relieve lower back pain and strengthens the legs and hips. It also helps stretch the hamstrings, hips, and lower back.
How to do it:
- Stand with your feet wider than your hips apart, keeping your toes pointing forward.
- Turn your right foot out and extend your right arm overhead, while placing your left hand on your hip.
- Slowly tilt your torso to the right side, reaching your right hand towards the floor or placing it on a block for support.
- Turn your head to the left and up towards the ceiling or look straight ahead. Hold the pose for a few deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.
- TIP: place a block in your practice space before attempting the pose so you can grab for it and use it if needed.
5. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose is a restorative inversion pose that reduces swelling in the feet and ankles and improves circulation. Try closing your eyes once you get into position for maximum relaxation. This can be a tricky pose to get into, and ultimately, however you can safely put yourself in position is great.
How to do it:
- With the goal of making an L shape with your body, start with your back flat on the floor, put your bum against a wall, and gradually lift your legs and feet to rest on the wall, feet going above your head.
- You don’t necessarily need to be at a 90 degree angle unless that feels good to you.
- Close your eyes and stay for a few minutes while breathing slowly in and out.
Practicing yoga during pregnancy can be immensely beneficial for alleviating pain and discomfort while promoting overall well-being. It also provides “you” time, where you can think and relax in peace. There are endless poses beyond these five that can relieve pregnancy related discomfort and I highly encourage you to explore more poses or maybe even a pregnancy flow (a series of poses put together like a little routine). During pregnancy, always remember to listen to your body, modify all poses as needed, and consult with your doctor or other healthcare professional before starting any new physical activity routine. Depending on which trimester you’re in, certain poses may or may not be recommended.
I truly hope these simple but powerful poses pique your interest in yoga and allow you to embrace the transformative power of the practice, but mostly I hope they help you with a more enjoyable pregnancy journey. Namaste.
Olivia is a former competitive gymnast and a certified yoga teacher living in Los Angeles. She found yoga in her late twenties and credits the practice as the single most impactful influence in her lifelong journey navigating major depressive disorder. She enjoys introducing yoga to others, fostering animals, and going thrifting. Also, naps.