Prenatal Modifications: Yoga

Make the most of your yoga practice with these three modifications by celebrity trainer Kristin McGee.

Yoga has helped me stay in touch with my body — and my growing baby — throughout the entire process of pregnancy. At 38 weeks, I am finding it more difficult to do certain poses and forward bends, but I am also shocked at how much I still can do!

Yoga postures open up the hips and pelvis and help prepare the body for labor. Yoga also helps with pain-relief and reducing swelling. I’ve found yoga super beneficial for better sleep and relaxation, as well as energy, stamina and strength.

During pregnancy, though, there are some modifications you need to be aware of. Some poses that are contraindicated during pregnancy are deep twists, lying on your belly, lying on your back for too long of periods and most inversions. And if you’re expecting, it’s important to always listen to your body and do what feels comfortable.

Here are some poses you can practice that are modified:

Camel Pose: Since we can’t lie on our belly like in a traditional bow pose, I love doing this pose. Come into a kneeling position (pad your knees if you need to) and tuck under your toes. Place your hands on your lower back, and lift your chest up as you arch back, reaching for your ankles. If it’s too challenging to catch your ankles, keep your hands on your lower back. Hold for five breaths, then come up and sit back on your shins. Repeat two more times.

Seated Spinal Twist: When you’re expecting, it’s important to never do a closed twist, and instead, always twist to the open side. You can modify a seated spinal twist by placing your elbow inside the bent knee and twisting to the open side. Sit up tall with your left leg tucked underneath you and your right knee bent with the foot flat on the mat. Place your right elbow inside your knee, and twist to the left. Hold for five to eight breaths, then switch legs and twist to the right side in an open position.

Side Plank: I love how strong yoga has kept me; it’s so empowering to hold myself up in arm balances. Since being pregnant, though, my center of gravity has certainly shifted. I modify a side plank by dropping my knee to the floor when I feel I don’t have the support or balance to do the full version. Start in a plank position (you can already have your knees on the floor if too challenging), and rock over to your right hand and outer right foot. Drop your right knee to the floor, and lift your left arm straight up to the ceiling. Hold for five to eight breaths, then come back to center and try the other side. Side stretching feels great during pregnancy, and this pose is one of my favorites.

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