Top 9 Yoga Stretches to do during Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a very tiring time for the body. There are many bodily changes that occur in all regions and cause pain and discomfort. While it is still possible to get on with daily life while carrying a child, it can cause additional strain for women, both physically and emotionally.
Given the fact that you are growing a child inside the womb, it is best to avoid taking medicinal painkillers and medications. While these are fine in small doses, there are safer and more natural options to relieve pain and discomfort that won’t risk the baby in any way.
Stretching is one of the best things to do for the body during pregnancy. This is a great way to not only stretch out the muscles and ligaments but also take some time to practice breathing and get in touch with the body. This is highly important to do during pregnancy but easily forgotten.
Taking 10 or 20 minutes a day to dedicate to stretching during pregnancy will make a great difference. This can be in the morning, afternoon, or at night. There are some stretch positions that will do wonders for your mental, physical, and emotional health throughout pregnancy. Many of these stretches are based on yoga principles and designed to be easy on the body, therefore safe during pregnancy.
Take a look at these top 9 stretches for pregnancy and add them to your daily routine for these important 9 months!
1. Backward Stretch
This stretch is designed to stretch the back as well as the pelvis and thighs. These are areas that get very tender during pregnancy. The pelvis especially needs to be stretched given this region is growing and changing to accommodate the enlarged uterus.
The important thing with this stretch is to keep the arms straight when you start on your hands and knees. The hands should be kept directly below the shoulders in the starting position. Bending backwards means stretching the arms back, taking the bottom to the ankles, but not actually moving the physical position of the hands.
When doing this stretch, also keep your head tucked under your chin. Breathe deeply while holding the stretch and exhale and inhale as much as you like and is comfortable.
2. Low Back Stretch
The back gets a real workout during pregnancy as this is what needs to uphold many of the changing body structures. As the stomach expands outwards as the uterus grows, the back muscles feel a lot of strain with this.
Starting on your hands and knees, this stretch is about lifting the back up and focusing on breathing. Make sure you keep your head in line with your back throughout this stretch. Basically, what you want to do is pull your stomach in, which raises your backup.
Aim to hold this stretch for around 10 seconds while your back in raised in the air. Inhale and exhale while holding the position and repeat as many times as comfortable.
3. Side Leg Stretch
This position is great for relieving pain and discomfort in the hips and pelvis. These areas become very sensitive during pregnancy because there are not only muscles and ligaments stretching and changing, but they are also subject to hormonal targets. Additionally, there is also an increased blood flow around the pelvis area which makes it more sensitive.
Laying on your side, you will immediately feel a relief in the legs. Prop yourself up with your shoulder, keeping the legs together. Raise one leg up from the knee and bring it back down to touch the other knee. Repeat this action at least 10 times to feel the effect in the hips.
If you are feeling up to it, you can extend this stretch by keeping the legs straight and raising from the ankle. This can be more challenging and you don’t need to push yourself too much if it hurts.
4. Curved Back Neck Stretch
This stretch is ideal for targeting the neck and upper back muscles, as well as getting you to focus on breathing. It is also referred to as the cat pose in yoga, as the back arches down similar to a cat when they are happy and content.
To start with, lower yourself to your hands and knees. Make sure the arms are straight and the hands are in alignment with the shoulders. For your knees, make sure they are hip width apart and on a comfortable surface, such as a yoga mat.
Next, simply take a deep inhale, drop your shoulders so that your stomach moves down and your back follows. Hold this for around 10 seconds, then exhale and raise back up. This is an easy stretch to do repetitively as it will make you feel great!
5. Lotus Legs Stretch
While this may not seem like a practical position to get into while pregnant, your hips and pelvis will absolutely thank you. The more tension and pressure you can relieve from this area on a daily basis, the more your body is going to thank you.
If you need to, you can do this stretch by sitting against a wall. Otherwise, sit on the ground and slowly bring your two feet together, so that your knees raise up into the air. Make sure you do this slowly and gently so as not to force it too much. The closer you have your feet to your body, the more effective the stretch. But to start off, don’t worry if there is a wide gap between your feet and body.
6. Side Body Stretch
It can be easy to neglect the arms and upper body during pregnancy since most of the pain and discomfort is felt in the legs and lower back. However, the arms and obliques are still taking their fair share of the burden.
This stretch is great for the side of the rib cage, the oblique muscles, and around the shoulders. It is a very simple and easy one to do, as well. Get yourself comfortable sitting on the ground, whether that is cross-legged or legs out in front. Then place the left hand on the ground and lift the right hand above the head. Make sure you keep your back and spine straight, bending from the oblique muscles. Repeat the same with the left hand in the air.
7. Standing Warrior Pose Stretch
This stretch will make the entire body feel rejuvenated and make sure the blood is flowing nicely all around the body. With this stretch, it is important to listen to your body and stay within the limitations of your pregnancy. Ensure you are comfortable and not overdoing it with the stretch.
Start by standing and moving your legs as far apart as possible. Then, turn your right foot outwards, but keep your left foot facing straight ahead of you. Stretch your left arm up into the air, leaning onto your right arm if you need to. Look up at your hand as you stretch. Repeat this on the opposite side. Hold the stretch for as long as comfortable.
8. Touching Toes Stretch
One of the most comfortable and easy stretches to do which is most common after an exercise is this one. And just a day of walking around with a pregnant belly will feel like you’ve run a marathon so this stretch will be welcomed!
Basically, start by sitting on the ground and stretching both legs out in front of you. Then, gently bring the right leg into the left thigh. The right foot should be placed along the left thigh and the right knee bent outward. Just bring the right foot up as high as feels comfortable for you.
Then, take a deep breath in and stretch your left arm to touch your left foot. If you can’t reach the toes, the ankles or calf is totally fine. Repeat the same on the other leg.
9. Full Body Stretch
Similar to the warrior pose stretch, this is a great way to feel relief all across the body. Start standing up and move your feet hip-width apart. Take your time doing this and don’t push yourself too far with the distance you spread out.
Then, bring your right arm down to touch your right foot, keeping the left arm high in the air. Hold this position for around 10 seconds if you can. You will feel the stretch all throughout the side of the body, the arms, as well as the legs. Repeat the same on the opposite side. You can do this stretch as often as feels comfortable, breathing deeply throughout it.
These stretches are designed to be calming and relaxing for the body. Just remember, you should always listen to your body and work within the limitations it is setting. This is especially true in the later stages of pregnancy when the baby bump has grown excessively. Pregnancy is not the time to push your body further than it needs to go!
Be gentle and kind to your body during pregnancy. Adding these stretches throughout your day is a great way to be just that. Enjoy and take care!
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