While some yoga purists will say there are only 84 yoga poses (as defined by the Lord Shiva in the ancient texts), there are literally thousands, maybe an uncountable amount of variations of those poses. At 20 weeks pregnant, there are definitely some poses that I can’t and shouldn’t do. Here are a few poses that I got a little creative with, and that are good for pregnant women too. Remember, even just standing or sitting with awareness and breath is yoga, so feel free to create your own poses. The important part is to enjoy the process! For more about yoga during pregnancy, I recommend the book Iyengar Yoga for Motherhood.
Half Moon with a leg bind (Ardha Chandrasana Chapasana)
In the first trimester, backends can stretch and weaken the uterus. After the first 16 weeks, you should trust your body and do the poses that feel good. Half Moon is a challenging pose that strengthens the legs and lengthens the torso, which is important for pregnant ladies. Adding the backbend can feel really good for some. If you do not feel stable, you can hold a block or even a chair.
Gate Pose (Parighasana)
All of us neglect to stretch our sides in daily life; typical motions usually bend us forward or back. That’s why its really good to incorporate side stretches in yoga practice. Pregnant ladies especially can benefit from the stretching of the muscles between the ribs and the side of the belly. We need as much space in the abdomen as possible. This pose is simple, accessible to most, and feels so good. Keep your torso in line with your leg; don’t bend forward.
Yogi Squat (Malasana)
The yogi squat is probably the best pose to prepare a woman for childbirth. It strengthens the legs and opens the hips, so you should spend plenty of time here. The are a few ways to deepen or vary the posture, and one that feels good is the open twist. Press one hand into the mat next to your foot, reach the other arm up and open to that side. It should feel more like a chest opening pose than a twist.
Kneeling Open Twist (Bharadvajasana)
It is recommended to avoid twists during pregnancy, but this one is open enough that you can enjoy the twist without squishing your baby. Recommended by Iyengar, this simple seated twist feels great. Focus on twisting from the middle and upper torso.
Floor Bow (Dhanurasana)
After the first trimester, all belly down backbends are out. So while playing in class one day, I started doing this, and it felt good! This bow pose done on your side also has the added benefit or a shoulder stretch! Lie on your side with arms extended behind you, bend both legs and take hold of the tops of your feet. It’s the same as regular bow, just on your side. If it’s too hard on your shoulder, use a thick mat or blanket underneath. Make sure to do the pose on both sides.