When you're pregnant, parts of your body hurt that you didn't even know existed. Weird aches and pains pop up out of nowhere and your growing belly can make finding comfortable positions nearly impossible.
Cathy Louise Broda certainly felt the pregnancy pains, especially the second time around when she was carrying twins. Thankfully for us, however, Broda has been doing yoga for 23 years and has honed her practice specifically for pregnant women. At Purple Yoga Hawaii, her studio in Honolulu, Broda has found five positions that are especially helpful for relieving pregnancy pains as well as stretching the body to make room for the growing baby. An added bonus? Many of these positions are great, reliable methods to cope with pain and discomforts during labor.
Broda recommends starting by sitting and doing three head rolls to the right and then left. You may be tempted to rush through this part, but don't -- few things feel as good and relieve as much tension during pregnancy as a slow, deep head roll.
Feel better already, don't you? Now, onto those 5 positions:
1. Extended Side Angle Pose: We feel especially sluggish during pregnancy, but that doesn't mean you can't find energy reserves to tap into. Try the extended side angle pose when you're dragging. It requires strong legs and works to open up the hips -- a much needed stretch if you're sitting at a desk all day. "Extending the upper arm above the head at an angle works the whole side body from finger tips to the extended back leg," notes Broda. If you reach for it, you might find you have more energy than you think.
Remember to keep a bent elbow on the bent knee during pregnancy.
2. Triangle Pose [ Tri-kona-Asana] : Somewhere between remembering to take your vitamins and prepping a nursery, did you start to feel like you were losing your sanity just a bit? While pregnancy is a time of celebration, it is also a highly anxious time and you may find yourself carrying around a bit too much tension. Try a modified triangle pose to regain your sense of balance. This all-around good pose works the legs, stretches the side body, energizes the hips, and opens up the shoulders, which (we're guessing) have started to cave in a bit under the pressure.
Modify this pose during pregnancy to ensure your stance isn't too wide.
3. Sitting Side Stretch: Around week 30, you may look down in terror as you try to figure out where 10 more weeks of growth are supposed to go. The sitting side stretch will open your side waist and pelvis and stretch the hips. "As our bellies get bigger," Broda reminds us, "it's important to find as much space in your torso as possible."
4. Cat / Cow Poses: Do back pains have you already dreading the ominous and mysterious sounding "back labor?" We feel you. Most women will endure back pains at some point in their pregnancy, but gently rocking between cat and cow poses will work to warm up the spine and stretch the body, hopefully getting you back on track. They also help to shift the weight of the baby away from the spine, giving you some much needed relief. You'll want to remember and practice this one, Broda says, in case you do have "back labor."
5. Child's Pose: If you've ever taken a yoga class, you probably love child’s pose because it signifies a short break from all the hard work. When you're pregnant, however, your normal day can begin to feel like a lot of hard work and it's important to take time to rest and regroup. When in child's pose, Broda recommends focusing on relaxing the face and breathing deeply into the back -- two important lessons to remember in between contractions!
As your belly grows, keep your big toes together and spread your knees apart to create space. Likewise, if it's more comfortable to sit up high, rather than bringing your bum to your ankles, go for it. Just remember to rest your forehead and to breath deeply into your back.