When a woman is in her third trimester of pregnancy, her baby is maturing fully and is ready to arrive to the world outside! Since the baby is reaching the full weight, a woman’s job is to ensure that she stay comfortable, relaxed and physically and mentally fit. Her yoga practice routine during the third trimester of pregnancy should at this point be all about maintaining strength and flexibility, staying balanced and focussed and also preparing mentally for the upcoming delivery.
If you are hiring a pregnancy yoga instructor, he / she will choose the most appropriate variation of yoga postures in order to suit your ever-changing needs. But one thing is certain – you must start with a few rounds of Surya Namaskar to warm up your body and end with the relaxation sequence to unwind. Remember specialised yoga practise during pregnancy has been proven to help women remain calm, focused, build their physical and mental strengths and enjoy the final part of the pregnancy journey.
Kneeling Forward Stretch
The kneeling forward pose will help to create a good sense of length in the spine. The pose also accommodates the increased size of your bump.
- Come into a tabletop position on all fours but open your knees a little wider than hip width and bring your toes near each other.
- Exhale and lean on your forearms and move your right hand inward and make a right angle at the elbow.
- Exhale again and stretch your left arm forwards until your left palm and your forehead rests on the mat as shown in the picture below with the bent right arm above your head.
- Exhale again. Stretch your shoulders and gently push your tailbone back and upwards. Hold it for several breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Kneeling Lion Pose
When you sit on your heels in this posture, you will stretch the top of your feet, ankles, shins and the knees. These are the body areas that can become stiff from all the extra weight that you are carrying around. These body parts usually also suffer from water retention in the third trimester of pregnancy. Also when you perform the facial stretch, you relieve the pressure in your face, neck and shoulders with the result that you will begin to feel good.
- Sit on your heels as shown in the pic below. Place your hands on the mat and keep your arms straight.
- Inhale and lift your head and chest and open your front side and keep your shoulders down.
- Exhale and stick your tongue out, look upwards and ROAR like a lion with an ‘Aaaaaaaaaah’.
- Inhale and drop your head down. Repeat the lion pose a few more times if it feels good.
Remember the Lion Pose is very good for releasing tension in your face, throat and neck and also banishes fear from your mind.
Deep Squat in Prayer Pose
In the third trimester of pregnancy, the body become more flexible because of the hormonal changes. The body weight increases which is why you must create stability in your practise. Practise this deep squat because it will help you lower your center of gravity thus creating more solidity in your practice. This position is also great for prodding your body into the birthing position.
Caution: Do not practise it if you are suffering from SPD or have a low-lying placenta.
- Begin this pose by starting in a tabletop position first. Move your hands backwards and gently begin to lift your knees upwards. Your hips will drop down and your weight will shift so that your feet are flat on the floor. Keep your toes turned slightly outward.
- Inhale and bring your hands in ‘Namaste’ position. Inhale and feel your chest expand and your spine lengthen. Exhale and feel your feet grounding down and feel your hips and pelvis open up. Hold the pose for several breaths and come out of the pose exactly in reverse.
Tip: Practise this against a wall for support if required. Also place a folded towel or yoga blocks under your heel if you cannot comfortably rest them on the floor.
Standing Hip Rolls
Hip rolling postures are excellent exercises to perform in preparation for labour. When you rock and roll your hips, they will improve mobility of your hips and pelvic area and also improve blood flow to these areas and oh also to your baby! Hip rolls can also be effectively used during labour in a gentle manner to release pressure on the back.
- Stand in a wide-legged posture facing the wall with about 2 – 3 ft. between you and the wall.
- Place your hands flat on the wall just above the line of your shoulders, spread your fingers and push the wall.
- Exhale and rock your hips back so that your arms are extended. Bend either knee one after another to roll your hips in a clockwise manner. Repeat several times in one direction and then switch to doing it anti-clockwise.
Single Leg Seated Stretches
Seated stretches will help to increase flexibility of your pelvic area and your hips and help you prepare for the labour. The seated stretches will also release tension in the lower back and groin areas which is to be expected in the later stages of pregnancy.
- Sit on the mat, place your palms behind you on the floor and extend your right leg outwards. Raise your left knee which should be bent in the air and bring it and place it flat on the floor and place your left hand around the left knee. The gap between your legs should be wide.
- Inhale and flex your toes backwards. After that exhale and reach down and use your right hand to hook your big toe with your two index fingers. If you cannot do this, try and use a belt or strap.
- Inhale and left your pelvic muscles. Then exhale, relax and release your toe and knee grips.
- Lower your left knee on the mat and bring your heel towards your groin. With your hands on your hips, inhale and raise your left arm upwards, with palms facing forwards until you feel a stretch on the left side of your body. Hold for a few breaths and slowly release.
Repeat all the steps on the opposite side.
Churning The Mill Pose
This is a great pose for pregnant women involving a circling motion much like churning a lassi the ways our grandmothers used to do! Practice of this pose by pregnant women will help to tone your back and abdominal muscles and increases blood flow to the hips and pelvic area creating more flexibility in these areas.
- Sit in a wide legged position on your mat with palms behind you on the floor. Tilt your pelvis backward and sit up.
- Inhale. Now bring bring both you hands together at waist height. Interlock your fingers and begin to move your hands in a clockwise motion as if you are mixing and stirring a large pot of soup. Move your arms and body forward and then to the right and to the back. Repeat several times and then reverse thee direction.
Tip: If the poses seem difficult with both legs outstretched then try doing it with one leg bent instead.
Stretching with Wall Support
If you have been practising prenatal yoga since the second trimester, then your hips and pelvis should have loosened up and enable you to do this stronger wide-leg stretch which can be a very good pose to practise as a run-up to the birth and help you with supreme strength and flexibility. Remember not to overstretch yourself at any time though.
- Sit with your back against a wall or a cushion for support if required. Put your hands on the back of your thighs and gently open up your legs wide enough so that your knees are bent and feet placed flat on the floor.
- Place your hands on the side of your hips on the floor to support you. Inhale. Now stretch your back and chest and look up. Exhale and slowly open your knees wide and press your hips down and back a little until you feel that your inner thighs are stretched.
- Hold the pose for a few comfortable breaths and gently press your shoulders into the wall and open your knees more with every exhalation. Then place your hands under your thighs and release your legs slowly.
Repeat one more time.
Cross Legged Twist Pose
In the final months of pregnancy, it is good to do spinal twists in order to help maintain a flexible spine. This helps to counteract the extra pressure that the extra load places on the back. As your spinal column opens up, more energy flows through your body and gives you the required energy and sustenance to deal with fatigue and stress – both physical and mental.
- Sit with your legs crossed. Place your left hand on the right knee. Inhale and stretch your spine, chest and the top of your head upwards. Exhale and now twist your upper torso to your right side and try and bring your right hand’s fingertips to rest on the floor behind your back.
- Inhale and stretch up. Exhale and twist. Hold the final twist for several comfortable breaths and then repeat on the reverse side.
Zig Zag Spinal Twist
The zig zag spinal twist gives you all the benefits of the above pose but also gives you a good stretch across the knees, hips, thighs and also the entire side of your body.
- Sit with both your knees bent to the right and your feet pointed the other way as shown in the pic below.
- Place your right hand behind you on the floor and your left hand on the right knee.
- Inhale. Now lift your chest and body upwards. Exhale and twist to the right.
- Inhale and stretch upwards again. Exhale and twist a little bit more than you did the last time. Hold for several breaths and then release the pose.
Repeat for the other side. This twist will not give you a very deep stretch for the spine but you will feel the stretch more on the hips and the upper torso.
Hope these above stretches gave you an idea of the kind of yogasanas that can be safely performed during the final months of pregnancy. As always, we advise that if you can afford it, hire a personal yoga instructor who will safely guide you and support your body while you perform thee asanas and also keep an eye out for danger areas. Remember if you are not physically fit or have never done yoga or exercised much before, you should definitely not use this article to start now! Use your common sense and do not over exert yourself and do something which is beyond your physical capacity. Have a safe pregnancy!
If you would like to hire a pregnancy yoga trainer, please check this page for more information –
Dhara is a dedicated and highly passionate yoga instructor from Mumbai who trains our clients personally as well as in group classes. Dhara also helps conduct yoga classes and sessions for kids (Age groups 5-9 and 9-14) which include Asanas, meditation, breathing, basic and simple yogic concepts to help them grow into beautiful adults. Dhara is also an avid practitioner of Reiki, The Art of Living & Vipasana Meditation apart from Crystal Healing & Meditation techniques and incorporates all of her multifaceted skills into her yoga classes and sessions as and when required. And she also takes time out to write for the Wellintra Fitness Blog whenever she can!