During the third trimester is when yoga – and movement in general! – can start to become a little more challenging. We’re dealing with discomfort, fatigue, and an ever-expanding belly – but this is what makes it even more important to practice!
Yoga can offer a real respite towards the end of pregnancy as well as help you to prepare for birth by introducing you to comfortable labor positions that open the hips.
As always, the most important thing is to listen to your body. Don’t practice movements that don’t feel right or that are painful – make as many adjustments and use as many props as you need to support yourself and your body.
Goddess pose (Utkata Konasana)
Goddess pose is wonderful for opening the hips and relieving pain in the lower back whilst strengthening the lower body.
Start from standing and step the feet about 1 meter apart from one another. Turn the toes out as you squat down bringing the knees to a 90-degree angle. Your hands can come to rest in a prayer position at your heart or you might like to make cactus arms (reaching the hands up to the sky and keeping a 90-degree bend in the elbows).
Alternatively, place the hands on a chair in front of you for support.
Stay here for 3-5 breaths. If you are really enjoying the benefits of the pose, you could add a large yoga ball between the legs for a little support.
Supported child’s pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose is the perfect pose for introducing some relaxation and grounding when you’re feeling stressed – or just want to revel in the last few weeks of pregnancy! Using supports and props will make the pose more comfortable.
Start by kneeling with your knees as wide as the mat. Keep the big toes touching together and sit back on the heels of your feet. From here, place a bolster or 2 pillows on the mat in front of you – one for your chest and one for your head. Slowly bring yourself to rest on the pillows or bolster, placing the hands wherever feels the most comfortable. You might like to reach them along either side of the pillows or bring them underneath your head.
Using props here will make space for your belly. You might also like to bring a cushion between the sit bones and the glutes.
Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Bridge pose can provide great relief from the weight and pressure of your uterus on your pelvis. It also involves a little core and glute activation to keep your body healthy and strong.
Start by laying on your back, bending the knees until you can just about reach your heels with the tips of your fingers. Your feet should be as wide as the hips.
Take a breath in, and as you exhale slowly peel the back away from the floor, starting with the coccyx, as you reach your hips towards the sky.
Stay for another breath before releasing slowly back down to the mat. Repeat this up to 3 times depending on what your body is telling you.
Yogi squat (Mālāsana)
Yogi squat is ideal for opening up the hips, relieving lower back pain, and preparing your body for childbirth. This might be a pose that you find soothing to use during labor too!
Start from standing with your feet as wide as your shoulders and toes pointing slightly outwards. Take an inhale, and as you exhale bend the knees coming down into a low squat where you feel you can rest.
If your heels are not touching the floor or if you find this position difficult, bring a cushion or a couple of yoga blocks under the sit bones so that you can open the hips whilst resting.
Bring the hands to a prayer position at the heart center so that the elbows can push into the knees to increase the stretch.
Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
Warrior I is a great way to breathe deeply, strengthen the back, and open the hips.
Start from standing at the front of your mat, followed by stepping the right foot back by about 1 meter. Plant the foot flat on the floor at a 45-degree angle.
Bend deeply into the front knee, stacking the knee over the ankle, and lift the arms up and overhead.
If you have any pain in the back knee turn the foot forwards and come back onto the toes. It can be helpful to use a chair or wall for balance, or you might like to bring a yoga ball between the legs.
Stay here for 3-5 breaths before repeating on the other side.
Tree pose (Vrikshasana)
Tree pose is a gentle way to open the hips and relieve pain in the lower back.
Start from standing, slowly bringing all of your weight into your left foot. Bend the right knee and bring the sole to your left ankle, calf, or thigh (avoiding putting any pressure on the knee).
Try bringing the bent knee further behind you to increase the stretch in the hips, and place the hands together in a prayer position at the heart center.
You might want to use a chair or wall for balance.
Stay here for 5-10 breaths before repeating on the other side.
During pregnancy, spend as much time relaxing in savasana – with or without a yoga practice! – as you want. There are a few modifications you’ll want to use to make it safe for you to practice.
Start by laying on your left and bending the knees. Bring a large pillow between the knees, one under the belly (if it feels good), and one under the head.
Stay here for as long as you like!
Enjoy these last few weeks with your ever-growing tummy, get prepared for labor through gentle yoga, and spend some time looking after yourself!