Yoga is immensely helpful during pregnancy, with its emphasis on keeping the body strong and open, and also on breath awareness, writes mum-to-be and yogini Amy Landry.
These poses are generally safe for all expectant mothers with a low-risk pregnancy. If you’re new to yoga, or have a history of complications, only begin practising from 14 weeks onwards.
Beneficial for second and third trimesters, Warrior II develops and maintains leg strength while opening and stabilising the pelvic region.
Stand with legs wide, arms outstretched, and feet approximately under your hands. Turn both feet to your right, keeping the pelvis open and tailbone downward. Inhale, and as you exhale bend your right knee to create a right angle. Keep chest broad and left leg strongly activated. Maintain pose for 5-6 steady breaths, then straighten your leg, turn both feet to the left, and change sides.
Half Moon pose strengthens the legs and pelvis, while focusing attention on the challenge of balance - which can be tricky during pregnancy!
Turn your right foot out, and place your left hand on your hip. Bend the right knee, and reach your right hand to the ground out in front of the right toes. Transfer weight slowly onto the right foot and fingertips, as you gently float a straight, strong left leg to the sky. Keep the pelvis open and eyes focused on a spot. Flex the left foot, reaching through the heel. Extend the left arm if you find stability easily. Hold for 5-6 breaths; release to standing, and change sides.
This wide-legged straddle pose opens tight calves and hamstrings - a common spot for pregnancy cramps.
Stand with feet wide and parallel. Place hands on hips, firmly activate thighs and lengthen tailbone down. Inhale to lift the sternum, and exhale to fold forward. Place fingertips on the ground, keeping your chest extending forward. Press upper thighs back, and lift kneecaps upwards. Focus on spreading the back of the legs wide, rather than deepening the forward bend. Hold for 6-8 breaths, then keeping legs active place hands to hips and rise to standing.
A strong pose to keep the chest and shoulders mobile and stable - areas that get weak and tight during breastfeeding.
Begin seated, feet flat and hip-width apart. Rest back on your hands, spreading fingers wide and pointing to the toes. Lift chest and wrap shoulder blades underneath. Inhale, and as you exhale slowly lift the pelvis as high as you can. Look forward, so as not to strain your neck. Stay for 4-5 steady breaths, then lower back down gently.
A safe 'open' twist which maintains space for the abdomen while supporting spinal mobility.
Begin seated; if hips or knees are an area of concern, sit elevated on a blanket or bolster. Swing both bent legs to your left side, keeping thighs together and knees pointing forward - like a mermaid tail! Take your right hand behind, around your lower back, or rest it on the ground without leaning back too much. Place left hand softly on the right knee. Inhale to lift the chest, exhale to rotate into your twist, gazing past the right shoulder. Be sure to anchor your left sitting bone downwards. Stay for 4-6 breaths, then release and change sides.
Visit Amy at www.amyelandry.com