6 Easy Prenatal Yoga Poses

Basic stretches to help you through pregnancy and labor.

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Whether you're a first-time mom or an old pro, pregnancy is an exciting time. But the backaches, restless nights, poop troubles and cankles? You could do without those. Luckily, one simple thing can help—exercise. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women exercise at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. But this isn't the time to get adventurous with your workouts. That's why we've put together these easy, calming yoga poses that almost anyone can do.

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Before You Get Started

If it's been a while since you've worked out, you may want to start with 5 minutes a few times a week and gradually work your way up to 30 minutes a day—whether it's yoga, walking or swimming. While practicing these yoga poses, listen to your body and breath. Use props and modify poses whenever you need to, especially as your belly grows and you're feeling less graceful. Don't hold poses for a long time. Go slowly and carefully. Back off if you feel any pain or discomfort. Also, ask your doctor if exercise is safe for you, especially if you've been told you have a high-risk pregnancy.

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Cat-Cow Pose (Bidalasana)

This pose gently warms up your spine and stretches your body. Practice this to relieve back pain, and try it when labor kicks in, too.

Kneel in "table top position" with a straight back. Your hips should be lined up over your knees and your shoulders should be lined up over your hands. Keep your arms straight, but not locked. Breathe in, look up and relax your back. Let your belly move lower toward the floor, but keep it engaged. Slowly breathe out and bring your chin toward your chest. Gaze at your belly and round your back.

Suggested Time: Repeat for 2 minutes
Benefits: Eases back pain, improves circulation

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Child's Pose (Balasana)

This classic pose is often done between other poses, and it's a great way to give yourself a little "me time." It may also come in handy when you're breathing through contractions.

Kneel on the floor with your big toes together and your knees spread apart. Breathe out and lean forward, dropping your belly between your thighs. Keep your arms straight and your fingers spread wide. Rest your forehead on the floor, relax your face and breathe deeply. When you're ready to come up, slowly walk your hands under your body until you're kneeling again.

Suggested Time: 1 minute
Benefits: Stretches hips, thighs and ankles

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Squat (Malasana)

Relieve pressure on your pelvis with squatting—the queen of prenatal poses.

Holding onto a partner or chair for support, stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and toes pointed out. Engage your core muscles, lift your chest and relax your shoulders. Breathe out and lower into a squatting position, or as far down as is comfortable. Most of your weight should be on your heels. Breathe in and return to standing position. Modify this pose by sitting in a chair with your legs spread as far as comfortable.

Suggested Time: 1 to 2 minutes
Benefits: Stretches hips; strengthens thighs & back

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Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

Maintain balance with this pose.

Stand with feet about 4 feet apart, use a wall for support if needed. Lift arms parallel to the floor, palms down. Turn your right foot out at 90 degrees, keeping heels in line. Breathe out and bend your right knee, keeping it aligned over your right ankle. Rest your right forearm on your knee. Breathe in and reach your left arm over your ear, keeping your arm straight and shoulders relaxed. Stay in this pose for 5 breaths. Center and switch sides.

Suggested Time: 1 to 2 minutes
Benefits: Strengthens legs; increases circulation

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Butterfly or Cobbler's Pose (Baddha Konasana)

This pose is great for stretching your hips. Doing this in late pregnancy may ease childbirth.

Sit up straight, using padding under your bum or a wall to support your back if needed. With your knees bent, bring the soles of your feet together. Gently guide your knees toward the floor. Place yoga blocks or pillows under your knees for support. Bring your feet as close to your body as is comfortable. Push the outer edges of your feet firmly into the floor and wrap your hands around your feet or ankles.

Suggested Time: As long as comfortable
Benefits: Stretches hips, thighs and knees

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Side-Lying Pose (Savasana)

This restorative pose is a favorite of most mamas. It's a great way to get the rest you need each day and enjoy a special bonding moment.

Lie on your left side and rest your head on your arm or a blanket. Place a pillow or blanket between your thighs to support your hips. You may also want to place a blanket under your belly. Relax, focus on your breath and connect with your little one. If worries pop into your mind, acknowledge them and let them go. Return to your breath. When you're ready to get up, slowly work your way into a sitting position. Namaste.

Suggested Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Benefits: Relaxes your body and clears your mind

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