Pregnancy yoga sequence for home practice (with a 'cheat sheet'!)
Updated: Dec 11, 2020
The sequence below will take you about 25 minutes - depending on how many breaths you decide to stay in a pose, you can make it shorter or longer. The final relaxation is not included in that time, ideally plan for it 10-15 minutes as well. There are tips on how to set up yourself for savasana at the end.
What you are going to find in the sequence:
pelvis movement for labor,
poses that help to prevent lower back pain, or to release it when needed,
pelvic floor exercises,
and a flow to strengthen the legs.
I also have for you a summary 'cheat sheet' with below sequence - easy to print out and put in front of you when you practice at home. Email me at email@example.com so I can share with you a high quality file.
Sitting: posture and sequence
Teaching points for 'Golden Triangle' sitting:
You can sit a little higher on a cushion or a rolled blanket, so that hips are slightly higher than your knees
Sit bones are aligned (equal pressure on both)
Knees are no wider than the length of your thigh, making an equilateral triangle with the pubic bone at the center (‘Golden Triangle’)
Make sure that your spine is straight, relax your shoulders, rest your hands on your knees, thighs, interlace your fingers around the navel or brings your hands to your belly to connect with your baby..
Close your eyes, or you keep them open – have gentle gaze in front of you.
Scan your body from top to bottom, see if there is any tension any sensation in your body that you would like to release.
Then observe your breath without trying to change it, but rather to use this moment to check-in with yourself, how you feel, how your body feels..
Start making your breath equal using the same count on the inhalation and exhalation, and remember the quality of this breath, so you can always get back to it during the practice when it becomes intense, or anytime off the mat.
Then slowly start moving your head in circles, waking up the body, moving with your breath (inhale circle your head upwards, exhale circle your head downwards). Make sure that you go both directions.
Add neck stretches to each side – after few circles of your head stay on right side, putting your right hand on top of your head to pull a little and intensify the stretch. Repeat on the other side after 2-3 breaths.
Come back to natural sitting again and add side stretches with your arms - inhale bring one arm up, the other hand resting on the floor. Repeat on the other side after 2-3 breaths.
'Golden Triangle' sitting protects the pubic symphysis joint whilst maintaining comfort and space in the pelvis for the mother and baby
Connect with yourself – it is important that we are aware of how our body and mind feels. In labor it helps us recognize the messages that our body sends us, so we can also follow our body’s
Work on your breath – breath is like your anchor for calming down your mind. And a great tool during labor to do exactly the same. Becoming more aware of your breath is the first step to start using your breath as a tool during labor, or anytime you need to relax..
Neutral posture – helps with preventing lower back pain, and with allowing your baby to go into the most optimal positioning for birth
All fours (on hands and knees): Transition from sitting, posture and sequence
Teaching points for transition to all fours from sitting & posture:
Bring your knees together and drop them to one side, so you swivel right into your hands and knees (all fours).
Use a blanket under your knees for cushioning,
If your wrists hurt – roll your mat, place your hands on the rolled part of the mat, so you make the angle between your hands and the mat less intense.
Find ‘zero balance’ on all fours: hands shoulder distance apart, knees hip width or a little wider in late pregnancy, lower legs parallel, tops of the feet on the floor. Back flat like a ‘table top’ not letting the lumbar curve drop. Gaze to the floor.
All fours sequence:
Start with pelvis movements - see guidance here, #1 on the list
Add rolling cat - see guidance here, #2 on the list.
Then use 2-3 minutes to just follow what your body tells you to do – maybe going into child’s pose, or stretching in downward dog, or repeating some of the previous movements
After coming back to neutral position in all fours again, follow the sequence for strengthening your legs and back
Stretch your right leg behind you, toes on the ground and stay there for about 3 breaths. Repeat on the other side
Now stretch your right leg again, but this time bring it up, just not higher than your hips – again 2-3 breaths here, and repeat on the other side.
If you are up for it you can add now diagonal stretch, so right leg up and left arm up – gaze towards the floor, arm and leg not higher than your hips, keeping straight spine, ‘table top’ like
Step into a side stretch from all fours – see guidance here, #2 on the list
Rest in polar bear pose for few breaths - see guidance here
Add pelvic floor exercises while in polar bear pose - see guidance here
All fours position is a great position for bringing your baby into the most optimal positioning for birth
Pelvis movements allow us to work with birthing muscles & their attachments, wake up the whole spine - very helpful movement for during labor to deal with surges (contractions)
Rolling cat is also very good for lower back pain
Sequence with stretching the legs is also strengthening our lower back - it helps to prevent lower back pain during pregnancy (especially diagonal stretch)
Pelvic floor exercises have multiple benefits for women when pregnant, from preparing birthing muscles for labor, making them elastic and toned, becoming aware of different pelvic floor muscles, but also being able to release the muscles during labor, and to restore them faster after childbirth
Polar bear pose is our resting pose during labor, and a pose which may help to turn the baby into the optimal position again during labor if needed
Standing: Transition to standing, posture and sequence
Teaching points for transition to standing from all fours & posture:
From all fours, make sure your feet are hip width apart and tuck the toes under
Walk the hands towards the knees
Lifting the knees simultaneously and come to standing using the momentum
While standing, keep your feet hips apart, soft on your knees, find again your ‘zero balance’ point (not hanging to one side or another, but equal position of your pelvis)
Start with pelvis movements again - see guidance here, #1 on the list
Add scooping and Camel walk - see guidance here, #3 on the list
Move with the breath in a 'Warrior' like sequence:
Bring your right foot forward. Note: difference vs. not pregnant warrior: feet hips apart and a shorter stand than usual
Now move with the breath: from straight legs with an inhale bring your arms up, with an exhale – bend your front knee and lower your arms to warrior two. Repeat it three times
Bring again your arms up with an inhale while straightening your legs, but now with an exhale, rest your elbow on your front knee when you bend your knee, and reach with your other arm in from of you looking towards your palm. Stay here 2-3 breaths.
With an inhale, keeping your front knee bend, come up and go for a reverse warrior with a slight backbend. Stay here 2-3 breaths again, then with an inhale come up with straight legs and arms at your side.
Take a block for Trikonasana (triangle pose): straight legs, one hand on the block, one reaching towards the ceiling, look up as well. After 2-3 breaths here, come up with an inhale keeping your block in your hand.
Turn your legs so that your feet are parallel prepared for 'Prasarita' like sequence:
Bring the block to the floor, and rest both your hands on the block. Bend your knees from side to side for 2-3 breaths, after which you find your stable position here, moving all the weight of your body on the block so you can feel the release in your lower back.
You can add here a windmill variation: keep one hand on the block, and reach with the other arm towards the ceiling, looking towards the ceiling as well for 2-3 breaths again. Repeat at the other side as well.
Leave the block on the mat, and roll yourself back up to standing. Then tip toe your feet closer to each other so you are again feet hips apart.
Repeat the whole sequence on the other side: Warrior flow and Trikonasana.
After Trikonasana on the other side, again open to the side, so your feet are wide, parallel to the short sides of the mat. This time your toes are sticking outwards. Lower down with your hips for Goddess pose – you can keep your hands on your thighs, or bring them up to open the chest. Stay here 4-5 breaths, then come up to standing and wabble it all out / shake it off.
Pelvis movements allow us to work with birthing muscles & their attachments - very helpful movement for during labor to deal with surges (contractions). If you add leaning against something (wall, table, partner) you are also helping your baby to find the most optimal position for birth in this movement
'Warrior' like sequence: moving with the breath, strengthening the legs, opening the hips
'Prasarita' like sequence: following what your body tells you (when bending the legs), relieving lower back pain (when resting both hands on the block), strengthening lower back (windmill variation)
Goddess pose: strengthening the legs, opening the hips, opening the chest, breathing through uncomfortable
All fours: Transition to all fours from standing and sequence
Teaching points for transition to all fours from standing:
Stand at the back of your mat, feet hips apart
Bend knees and reach down to the floor
As the hands meet the floor walk them forwards to land knees down at the same time and finish in all aligned all fours
All fours finishing sequence:
Stretch your arms in front of you one by one. Either stay 3-4 breaths at each side before switching, or move with your breath (exhale - bring your arm far away from you, inhale back to all 4s)
Add threading the needle - see guidance here, #3 on the list
All fours position is a great position for bringing your baby into the most optimal positioning for birth
Side stretch feels very releasing on our body
Threading the needle helps with tension release in the upper back, neck and between shoulders, and it is having some calming effects on my mind
Sitting: Transition to sitting from all fours and sequence
Teaching points for transition to sitting from all fours:
Bring hips to one side, then follow with your legs. Find a comfortable sitting position, e.g. 'Golden Triangle' sitting
Sitting finishing sequence:
Breathing exercise in sitting position: nadi shodhana, alternate nostril breathing - see guidance here, #5 on the list
It helps with insomnia, headaches, anxiety, but most of all it brings us calmness after only 4-5 rounds
Final relaxation: position and tips
Put some relaxing music in the background, and you may want to set up a timer, we tend to relax easier then
Plan for it not less than 5 minutes, ideally around 15 minutes - this part of your practice will serve you as preparation for deep relaxation practice or the actual deep relaxation practice for labor (if you have audio relaxation scripts, you may as well combine it with savasana here)
Calming effects, rest, great preparation for relaxation during labor