Pregnancy is a magical process. Not only are you growing a new human, but your body and mind also go through constant changes.
Although there are many beauties in it, you also feel many discomforts and aches in pregnancy, especially in your back. That’s why practicing pregnancy yoga for back pain is one of the most helpful methods for expecting mothers.
The poses we go through in this article help relieve back pain. They will also allow you to safely maintain your flexibility and strength as your pregnancy progresses.
Best Yoga Poses For Pregnancy Back Pain
Before we go through the best yoga poses to relieve back pain during pregnancy, let’s first see what causes it.
It’s important to know what changes in your body trigger back pain. You will be able to understand exactly why pregnancy yoga for back pain can be so relieving and beneficial.
A large part of the issue is weight gain, that is mainly concentrated in the front part of your body – the belly and the breasts. That shifts your center of gravity forward, which can change your posture and increase pressure to the spine.
When you do yoga poses to relieve lower back pain in pregnancy, you’re not only gaining flexibility. Your back will also be stronger and be able to better support your body.
Except for the additional weight, relaxin can also cause back pain. This hormone elevates in pregnancy and its role is to relax the joints and make your pelvis wider for the birth process. However, it relaxes all the joints and muscles, including those in your back. That in turn can make it harder for your back to properly support the weight of your front body.
Abdominal separation, sedentary lifestyle and even stress can further aggravate back pain.
By doing pregnancy yoga for lower back pain throughout the process, you will stretch, strengthen, and balance your body. You won’t only ease pain, but also feel more relaxed and in touch with your breath and mind.
And though yoga can help, it’s also important to adapt it to your current state. That, of course, means you should listen to your body. It also means focusing on certain poses can prove more beneficial and helpful for you.
In the next chapter we will go through yoga poses for pregnancy back pain that you can do safely and which will help you physically and emotionally prepare for labor.
Top 5 Yoga Poses For Back Pain During Pregnancy
These poses are ideal to do during pregnancy, as they work on both the strength and flexibility of your hips and back. To feel the most relief, incorporate the poses in a sequence and do them in the order they are listed here.
Cats and cows are a great way to start your routine of pregnancy yoga for back pain. They warm up your body, and will slowly strengthen your lower back. Additionally, cats and cows lubricate the spine and increase its mobility.
When doing the cat-cow pose, start on all fours making sure your shoulders are stacked over your wrists and your hips over your knees.
Do your cow pose when you inhale, dropping your belly and allowing your back to arch. Mindfully move into your cat pose with the exhalation, pulling your belly in and releasing the spine.
Move through these at least five times and for as long as it feels good. When you feel ready, you can start moving through the other poses.
Standing Forward Fold
A standing forward fold helps to release the spine and stretch the hamstrings. Hamstrings often get tight during pregnancy which can lead to back pain, so it’s important to lengthen them. If you are in your later trimesters, you can switch this pose for a seated forward fold.
To do this asana, start standing on the mat with your feet hip-width apart. If you want a deeper stretch in your hips, you can also do the wide legged variety, with about one leg distance between your feet.
In both versions, lean forward with your back flat and lower the hands towards the floor. Feel free to bend your legs or add a block underneath your hands if going all the way to the floor is uncomfortable. Hold the position for half a minute and repeat it one or two more times.
It’s a good idea to add a bridge after your forward fold to balance the stretch. Bridge is also one of the best yoga poses for lower back pain in pregnancy on its own. It simultaneously stretches your hip flexors and strengthens the back, abdominal muscles and the glutes.
Large back bends should be avoided in pregnancy, so bridge is a safe alternative that will instantly help relieve lower back pain.
To do the bridge pose, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet close to the buttocks. Usually the legs should be hip-width apart but you can put them slightly wider if that’s more comfortable.
Keep your arms by your body and as you inhale lift your hips and back on the ground. Press evenly with your feet and avoid further opening your knees. Hold for a few breaths and gently release.
Repeat five to ten times, then release your whole body down.
Incorporate twists after your front and back bends to balance all the work you’ve done and to release any built up tension.
Closed twists which involve your belly pressing against the legs aren’t recommended during pregnancy. However, the open version, like the gentle seated twist is safe to do and can do wonders for releasing tension and aches in your back.
Start by siting in the easy pose or any other comfortable position. Tuck your tailbone, keep your spine long and send your shoulders away from the ears.
Place your left hand to your right knee, and your right hand behind your back. As you inhale lengthen your spine, and gently twist to the right as you exhale. Don’t twist too deeply, and hold the pose for a couple of breaths. Then repeat the twist on the other side.
Child’s pose is a soothing and relaxing asana and a perfect final position after your pregnancy yoga routine for back pain. It will decompress your spine, and releases final tension in the shoulders and lower back.
When doing the pose in pregnancy, widen the knees more and feel free to place a block underneath your hips for more support. Then lean back onto your ankles or the block. Extend the arms ahead of you for a deep stretch in the whole back body.
After holding the stretch for several breaths, release everything and allow your body to fully relax in shavasana.
We’ve now covered some of the best yoga exercises for back pain during pregnancy. Next, we will briefly go through a couple more asanas, this time focusing on the post pregnancy period.
Post Pregnancy Poses
Even when you’re not pregnant anymore, you still need to adapt your practice.
Everyone goes through different processes after childbirth, but here we will focus on doing yoga for post pregnancy back pain.
It is possible that you still struggle with back pain or that you only decided to try yoga after birth. Except for the above yoga stretches for pregnancy back pain, here are a couple of more things you can do in both cases.
While back-focused poses can still be helpful, in your postpartum period it’s also important to rebuild abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor.
Regardless of what you do, remember to be gentle to your body. Approach the practice with patience and give yourself as much time as you need to rebuild your strength.
Without further ado, here are some core strengthening poses you can add to your yoga for post pregnancy back pain:
Plank is a great way to start working on your abdominal muscles post-pregnancy. You can hold a standard plank or do a forearm plank if you feel discomfort in your wrists.
If you struggle to keep your back off the earth, place your knees on the ground. Have patience and you’ll soon have enough strength to build up to the full version of the pose.
Chair pose is a great way to challenge your whole body. It will particularly activate your glutes and your abdominal muscles.
If your back hurts during the pose, you can lower the arms, squeeze a block between your knees or simply space them out hip-width distance apart.
Legs up the wall
Legs up the wall is a beautiful relaxing pose that will help boost circulation in your body. It can reduce the swelling around the ankles which is a frequent issue after pregnancy.
This pose allows you to completely calm down and let go of all tension. It is a great posture to add before the final shavasana.
To feel even more release in your back, you can place a block or a rolled up towel underneath your hips. When you’re comfortable in the pose, hold it for at least five minutes.
Back pain is a common issue in pregnancy – and prenatal yoga is here to help. It will stretch your hips and strengthen your back, while also empowering you to maintain good breathing and posture. Use yoga poses for back pain every day to stay pain-free, calm and mindful throughout this beautiful stage of your life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yoga is a powerful way to release back pain in pregnancy. It builds both strength and flexibility in your abdominal, pelvis and back muscles. That will help you maintain good posture and release tension that can build up in your back. Yoga also incorporates a lot of hamstring stretches which can further ease lower back pain.
Yoga ball is a great tool to help with middle back pain in pregnancy. You can use it to gently strengthen your muscles but also to stretch and lengthen them.
The best exercises for pregnancy are those where your legs are elevated on the ball. You can try raising to a bridge variation or do gentle twists. These exercises increase back strength which can help you with your posture to eliminate chronic back pain.
There are many natural methods you can use. Firstly, you can practice pregnancy yoga for back pain with some poses we listed in the article. Simply taking some time to breathe and meditate can also be helpful. Finally, it’s a wonderful idea to occasionally treat yourself with a massage for full body relaxation.
Gentle yoga classes like restorative and hatha yoga are the best choice in pregnancy. Many teachers also offer prenatal yoga classes.
If you’re in your starting months and want to do a more challenging class, make sure you tell your teacher you’re pregnant. They will be able to advise you if the class is suitable for you.
You can also practice yoga at home. Create your sequence with our yoga poses for back pain during pregnancy or try finding a video that focuses on prenatal yoga.
Yoga can be helpful throughout your pregnancy, but it would be best to avoid some poses:
Poses that put a lot of pressure on your belly, like the bow pose
Closed twists that compress your stomach, like the revolved triangle
Intense abdominal poses, like full navasana
Deep back bends like full wheel
We added safe alternatives for these poses throughout this article. Also, many of these poses can be modified, to make them more gentle for your body. For example, you could bend your knees in navasana and replace the full wheel for a bridge pose.
There is a lot of misconception about bending during pregnancy, as many people believe it can harm the baby or your body. Except if your doctor told you to avoid it for a specific reason, it is safe to bend in pregnancy. However, it will also become increasingly harder in the third trimester. You could lose balance or strain your back due to the weight in your stomach, so it might be best to avoid deep bends in that period.