5 Best Yoga Poses During Pregnancy + Their Benefits

By Adrienne Herrenbruck

As expectant mothers it is so important to keep health and fitness as a high priority. Although many soon-to-be-moms want to stay very active during pregnancy, it’s also critical to be safe for both the mom and child.

The practice of Yoga during pregnancy has increased dramatically over the last several years, and there are several reasons you may want to jump on the band-wagon!

Yoga in general is known for it’s anti-depression and overall stress-negating effects. This is great for everyone, but even more important for women who are pregnant. Remaining as stress-free as possible during pregnancy results in easier labor and delivery and is even linked to a healthier baby (and less-stressed adult offspring)1!

Interestingly, a study from the Australian College of Midwives found a decreased level of cortisol (that pesky stress hormone) following yoga practice2,3. Not only will this allow the mother to de-stress mentally and emotionally, but it will also help avoid stress-related weight gain throughout pregnancy.

Now that you’re convinced you need to add in yoga, try practicing these 5 best yoga poses during pregnancy to improve strength and stability, and decrease cortisol levels.

1. Cat + Cow
Stretches spine and helps teach mindful breathing

2. Mountain
Strengthens legs, feet, and ankles, and brings awareness and mindful breathing

3. Warrior 2
Strengthens legs, improves circulation, and opens hips.

4. Low Lunge
Stretches the psoas muscle to decrease back pain.

5. Child’s Pose
Passively stretches back torso muscles while also stretching hips and thighs.

While each of these has specific benefits for women who are pregnant. Most poses can be practiced as long as they are comfortable. In fact, a recent article from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found no adverse affects (for either mother or baby) from a wide variety of poses, including some that have regularly been suggested to avoid. Namely, Corpse pose, Downward Dog, and the aforementioned Child’s pose showed no negative affects in either heart rate or blood pressure of mother and child.

However, it’s important to tailor your practice to yourself. If anything ever feels uncomfortable return to another pose or find a modification. A few suggested modifications include having yoga blocks, a wall, or chair available for balance postures such as warrior 3 or half moon as falls should be avoided for the safety of the baby.

1. Polis RL, Gussman D, Kuo Y-H. Yoga in Pregnancy: An Examination of Maternal and Fetal Responses to 26 Yoga Postures. Obstet Gynecol. 2015;126(6):1237-1241..

2. Kusaka M, Matsuzaki M, Shiraishi M, Haruna M. Immediate stress reduction effects of yoga during pregnancy: One group pre & post test. Women and Birth. 2016;29(5):e82-e88.

3. Miyagawa K, Tsuji M, Fujimori K, Saito Y, Takeda H. Prenatal stress induces anxiety-like behavior together with the disruption of central serotonin neurons in mice. Neurosci Res. 2011;70(1):111-117.

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Adrienne is a certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine and hold a masters degree in Exercise Science. Her day job is teaching college kids the ins and outs of exercise science.






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