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A young pregnant woman practices yoga poses for pregnancy pains.

January 5, 2023

Last updated : April 1, 2024

The journey of pregnancy is one of wonder and excitement. But there are also some challenging and downright uncomfortable aspects that are experienced by most women too.

The good news is that yoga has a wealth of poses that will alleviate or at least soothe many of the symptoms experienced during pregnancy such as back pain, acid reflux, nausea, constipation, stress and fatigue. Some yoga poses for pregnancy also offer relief for multiple ailments and can improve one’s physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Below, I share how yoga can benefit the body and mind during pregnancy, as well as accessible pregnancy yoga poses that provide relief for common aches and pains in all three trimesters.

The Benefits of Practicing Yoga During Pregnancy

From conditioning the body in preparation for birth to alleviating stress and caring for the emotional state, the benefits of yoga during pregnancy are abundant and undeniable.

A recent meta-analysis of 29 studies with 2217 pregnant women found that those who practiced prenatal yoga noted a reduction in anxiety and depression, experienced shorter labors and were also more likely to have a vaginal birth.

Unlike a standard exercise program that focuses solely on the body, yoga approaches well-being from a holistic perspective so the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of health are all taken care of. Here are 5 benefits of practicing yoga during pregnancy:

1. Improves flexibility throughout the body

The asanas, the part of yoga that people tend to be most familiar with, encourage flexibility throughout the body. Flexibility of the muscles, fascia and joints help to create more space for the internal organs, which of course makes more room for the growing fetus so that both mom and baby are more comfortable. 

2. Prepares the mind and body for childbirth

Pregnancy yoga poses also build strength and endurance, both physically and mentally. The mom will need to adapt to carrying up to 12.5kg of additional weight and although this is gradual, it is further complicated by the hormonal fluctuations that can leave muscles and ligaments more flexible. 

This is great for labor but leaves the body less stable overall. We talk more about the need for women, regardless of their level of fitness, to take care amid these hormonal increases and fluctuations in the below section, ‘Is it Safe to Start Yoga for the First Time During Pregnancy?’

3. Strengthens the pelvic area and boosts health

Yoga poses for pregnancy have a particular focus on the pelvic region. Increasing circulation and tone in this area has immediate effects during pregnancy and is also an excellent way to prepare the body for labor. 

Consciously directing attention to this specific area also helps the mother form a relationship with this part of her body and establish a familiarity that she can draw upon during labor. Massage of the organs and stimulation of the circulatory, cardiovascular and immune systems within the body are some of the other physical benefits associated with yoga.

4. Relieves stress and calms the mind

Oxygen is vital for the function of our organs and muscles but how we breathe can also have a profound effect on the state of our nervous system. The way we are breathing can influence whether we are engaging the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) or parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). 

Shallow, quick breaths trigger the fight or flight response whereas deep, elongated breaths with a focus on prolonged exhalations can stimulate the rest and digest response. A conscious, breath-led practice with calming breathing exercises is an incredible opportunity to relieve the stress that can accompany pregnancy by soothing the nervous system. 

5. Deepens the connection with one’s body and baby

As well as the mental and physiological benefits, practicing yoga during pregnancy provides time and space for the mom to connect with herself and her baby in a meaningful way. 

As the moms are stretching to create immediate space and comfort while conditioning to provide flexibility and endurance for their upcoming labor, they’re also able to slow down and meaningfully nurture a deep bond with their baby prior to their birth.


Learn must-know safety cues for Prenatal Yoga practice & teaching

Get access to exclusive theory & practice videos with prenatal expert Lucia Seglie for free

Is it Safe to Start Yoga for the First Time During Pregnancy?

Simply put, and assuming that there are no pre-existing health conditions, even women who have no previous experience with yoga can safely start a practice during pregnancy under the guidance of a prenatal yoga teacher. That said, it is important to be cognizant of the changes that every woman, regardless of experience or fitness levels, will undergo during pregnancy. 

When the pregnancy begins, there will be a flurry of hormonal fluctuations that relax muscles and soft tissues to create space for the growing baby and prepare for labor. As the joints become more flexible and elastic there is a loss of stability which can leave some women at increased risk of injury. This is the case regardless of pre-existing fitness levels.

Every woman wishing to start a new exercise regimen should therefore first consult with their doctor, and if it's suitable, approach their practice with gentle intuition during their pregnancy.

Soothing Yoga Poses for Pregnancy Pains

Pregnancy Yoga Poses for Back Pain 

The mom’s body has to accommodate her growing child and the consequent stress that this additional weight puts on her muscles, joints and internal organs. This combination of increased weight and decreased stability can create back discomfort as the body adapts and adjusts to a new way of balancing and holding itself. This is even more pronounced for mothers with toddlers or children who they are caring for and carrying during the pregnancy. Try these yoga poses for pregnancy pains related to the back. 

1. Utthanasana (Standing Forward Bend) 

A prenatal yoga teacher helps a young mom practice the Standing Forward Bend yoga pose for pregnancy back pain.
  • Relieves lumbar tension 
  • Tones the abdominal muscles
  • Strengthens knees and hamstrings
  • Energizes the heart and lungs
  • Relieves migraines, insomnia and chronic fatigue
  • Soothes the sympathetic nervous system
  • Relieves stomach discomfort and acidity 

Place blocks under the hands and use a wall for support.

Safety precautions:

Students with reflux should avoid this pose. 

2. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) 

A young mom comes into downward facing dog yoga pose for pregnancy back pain.
  • Strengthens the spine 
  • Encourages flexibility of the shoulder blades
  • Creates more space in the belly by releasing pressure from the lower abdomen
  • Increases mental energy by calming the nerves
  • Reduces feelings of fatigue and heaviness 

Place blocks under the hands to make the pose more accessible.

Practice tips: 

As the baby grows bigger, students should bend their knees to avoid curving the spine. The focus should be on lengthening the body.

Safety precautions:

Students with reflux should avoid this pose. Those starting a yoga practice in their second or third trimester may want to skip this pose as it takes a level of strength and balance to hold the correct form while maintaining a continuous breath.

Pregnancy Yoga Poses for Acid Reflux 

One of the main reasons for reflux during pregnancy is elevated levels of progesterone. As well as helping the uterus to maintain the pregnancy, progesterone also decreases smooth muscle tone which can cause the esophageal sphincter to soften, making it less reliable at containing stomach acids. These yoga poses for pregnancy symptoms like acid reflux provides relief from acidity and soothes digestive issues. 

1. Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose) 

A young pregnant woman practices Half Moon yoga pose to relieve acid reflux.
  • Provides quick relief from acidity 
  • Aids digestion in late pregnancy
  • Opens the chest, hips and pelvis
  • Energizing and grounding
  • Relieves sciatica and lumbar discomfort
  • Strengthens hamstrings, thighs and ankles
  • Promotes circulation which can offer relief from swollen ankles and legs 

Use a block to make the pose more accessible or lean against a wall for support. 

2. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)   

A young pregnant woman practices Bound Angle Pose to soothe symptoms of acid reflux.
  • Opens the hips, pelvis and groin 
  • Relieves symptoms of acid reflux
  • Strengthens the inner thigh muscles, groin and knees
  • Improves posture and body awareness
  • Soothes digestive issues
  • Relieves sciatica and lumbar discomfort

Rest your back against the wall for added support in this seated position. 

Practice tips: 
  • Sit on a bolster, cushion or folded blanket if you have difficulty sitting upright. 
  • If you experience discomfort in your thighs, place a support under each knee. 
Safety precautions: 

Never force your knees to the floor. If you often experience knee pain, be cautious with this pose and modify where necessary.

Pregnancy Yoga Poses for Nausea

After the egg is fertilized, the body starts to produce hormones that aid the development of the baby and ensure a healthy pregnancy. However, this increase in hormones can cause severe nausea during the crucial stages of development. This is a reason why many women experience nausea in the first trimester. During pregnancy, practice these easy yoga poses for nausea. 

1. Upavistha Konasana (Wide Angle Seated Pose)  

A prenatal yoga teacher helps a young pregnant woman stretch in Wide Angle Pose to relieve nausea.
  • Relieves nausea 
  • Relaxes the abdominal muscles
  • Relieves tension in the lower abdomen
  • Encourages hip mobility
  • Promotes flexibility in the groin and inner thighs
  • Regulates the reproductive system 
Practice tips: 

From the first trimester, use blocks or a bolster under the sit-bones. 

2. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)  

A young pregnant woman stands in Mountain Pose to soothe nausea.
  • Relieves nausea 
  • Strengthens your spine and relaxes the back
  • Increases strength and mobility in your feet, ankles, thighs, and hips
  • Improves overall posture
  • Relaxes the body and mind 
  • If you experience a sense of dizziness or struggle to balance with your eyes closed, keep them open and simply focus on the eye-shaped space in between your palms. 
  • If looking up results in tension or pain in your neck or shoulders, look straight forward and close your eyes.

Pregnancy Yoga Poses for Constipation  

The fluctuation of hormones in the body reduces the tone of smooth muscle tissue which means the bowel doesn’t work as hard to eliminate waste. The weight of the fetus on the bowel and prenatal iron supplementation can also contribute to constipation. 

Yoga for digestion can help soothe numerous problems arising from the digestive system and bolster gut health. Along with proper hydration and diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains and fiber, these pregnancy yoga poses can offer relief from this uncomfortable condition. 

1. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Wide Angle Pose) 

A young pregnant woman lies on a yoga cushion and bolster in Reclined Wide Angle pose to alleviate constipation.
  • Stretches the hips and groin 
  • Helps to soften the diaphragm
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs, promoting digestion
  • Lengthens the spine
  • Opens the chest and allows for deep breathing and increased oxygen levels
  • Reduces mind chatter
  • Deepens the connection with the baby
  • Allows deep relaxation of the pelvic muscles 
Practice tips: 

Use a bolster underneath the shoulders and spine to elevate the chest and heart. This is a great pose to help relax the body and mind before bed. 

2. Balasana (Child’s Pose) 

A prenatal yoga teacher helps a young pregnant woman bend over in Child’s Pose to aid digestion.
  • Stimulates the digestive system 
  • Relieves constipation
  • Calms the mind and relaxes the body
  • Stretches the hips, groin, ankles and back
  • Lengthens the spine
  • Opens the chest and encourages deep, relaxed breathing 
  • If you struggle to rest your head on the floor, place a folded blanket under your forehead to relieve tension and pressure on your neck. 
  • If you experience discomfort or pain in your knees, you can also place a folded blanket between the crease of your knees to ease pressure here.

Breathing Exercises for Stress & Fatigue

A certain amount of stress is perfectly normal, especially considering the pressure of pregnancy and life after birth, but chronic levels of stress can lead to health complications for the mother and even developmental problems for the baby. 

It is quite amazing that by breathing consciously we are able to engage the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and down regulate the fight or flight stress response. This is particularly valuable during labor.

By developing a relationship with a breathing practice during pregnancy, mothers are able to connect and return to this familiar state during labor. Not only will it assist in reducing the fight or flight response but deep, mindful breathing will ensure oxygen levels are high which will reduce tension in the muscles, decreasing the Fear>Tension>Pain cycle.

1:2 Long Exhalation  

A breathing exercise that should be practiced in Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose). This can be practiced in a supine position, propped up on a bolster or against a wall for support. If Baddha Konasana isn’t comfortable, any other seated position where the belly is supported and the chest is open is suitable. 

Inhale for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 8. Complete 5 rounds.

  • Promotes a meditative state 
  • Triggers the parasympathetic nervous system
  • Reduces stress
  • Prepares the body and mind for sleep 
Practice tips: 

Do not hold the breath at the top of the inhalation or exhalation. Any breath retention pranayama techniques should be avoided during pregnancy.

Final Thoughts

Under the guide of a prenatal yoga teacher, yoga is one of the most effective practices to holistically manage the health of pregnant women through this amazing and special time. Whether practicing these simple pregnancy yoga poses daily, or joining a prenatal yoga training to enhance your practice and help others, yoga is a remarkable tool that can soothe common pregnancy pains and strengthen the body for birth and beyond.


Learn must-know safety cues for Prenatal Yoga practice & teaching

Get access to exclusive theory & practice videos with prenatal expert Lucia Seglie for free

About the author

Lucia Seglie

Lucia Seglie is an experienced yoga teacher and yoga teacher trainer. Lucia started her yoga journey in India with traditional teachers. During her 10-year teaching career, she has worked with various anatomy and physiology experts and has developed a comprehensive approach to yoga and Restorative Yoga in particular and including teaching, adjustment, and modification techniques.

Lucia runs successful two yoga studios in Italy and guides a team of more than 10 yoga teachers. She has taught Restorative Yoga for many years and collaborates with Arhanta Online Academy in offering an Online Restorative Yoga Teacher Training.

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