Best Pregnancy Yoga Poses for the Third Trimester

Welcome to the final stretch of your pregnancy! Although it might feel like there’s a lot you’re no longer able to do in your yoga practice, there’s still a lot you can do.

The third trimester is a time to slow down, listen to your body, and rest as much as you need to in preparation for birth.

With that in mind, practicing yoga in the third trimester can be a great way to relax, encourage your baby into a head-down position, and strengthen the muscles needed for labor and birth.

This article will cover the best pregnancy yoga poses for the third trimester, how to practice yoga safely during this time, and some final tips for making the most of your practice.

Best Pregnancy Yoga Poses for the Third Trimester

Here are 9 of the best yoga poses to help you relax and prepare your body for labor and birth.

Yogi squat

Yoga squat

Yogi squat stretches and opens the hips in preparation for birth – women worldwide even give birth in this position!

Start in a standing position with your feet a little wider than hip distance apart and your toes turned slightly away from each other. Keep a straight spine and bend at the knees to bring your sit bones towards the ground or onto a block or cushion. As you enter this pose, you might like to place your hands on a chair or the floor for balance.

Once you’re comfortable, bring your hands together in a prayer position at your heart and gently press your elbows into your knees. Focus on bringing your knees apart using the strength in your hips – your elbows are there to help support the stretch.

Child’s pose

Child's pose

Child’s pose is a soothing position that is also great for opening the hips and lengthening the spine.

Come to a kneeling position on the ground and separate your knees to either side of your mat. Place a pillow or bolster in front of you. Gently bring your chest and head down to the pillow to allow space for your belly. You might like to use blocks to raise the height of smaller pillows. Bring your big toes to touch, allow your belly to expand, and breathe into your upper back.

Butterfly pose

Butterfly pose

The butterfly pose opens the hips while reducing pain in the pelvis, hips, and lower back.

Sit on a pillow or folded blanket with your knees apart and the soles of your feet touching. Inhale to grow through the spine, and bring your hands to your belly or thighs. Allow your knees to get heavier with each exhale.

If the stretching sensation in your hips is too intense, bring a block underneath each knee to reduce the stretch.

You can also practice the supine butterfly pose by placing a bolster cushion behind you. Prop the furthest end with a block, so your pillow is on an incline, then gently lay back onto it.

Upper back opener

Upper back opener

Practicing poses that open the upper back will feel great on your shoulders and chest while also increasing space in your abdomen to allow you to breathe more deeply.

Come to an upright kneeling position with a chair or yoga ball in front of you. Place your hands to rest on the chair so that your spine is parallel with the ground. From here, let your chest get heavy. Focus on opening the shoulders as opposed to stretching the abdomen.

Chair pose

Chair pose

Although chair pose might not be your favorite yoga asana, it is a great way to build muscle in the lower body.

Start standing at the front of your mat with your feet hip-distance apart. From here, bend your knees as though you’re going to sit back on a chair, then lift your arms above your head. Engage your arms by imagining that you’re holding a large beach ball between your hands.

To add more stability to the pose, bring a block between the knees and gently squeeze to hold it in place.

Goddess pose

Goddess pose

Due to its symmetrical shape, goddess pose stretches the hips without causing pain in the pelvis.

Stand sideways on your mat with your feet about 1 meter apart and toes facing away from each other (towards either side of your mat). Bend to stack your knees over your ankles, adjusting the position of your feet if you need to. Stay tall through the spine, then lift your arms overhead before bending your elbows to 90 degrees so that your arms mimic the shape of your legs.

Wide-legged forward bend

Wide legged forward bend

Wide-legged forward fold will stretch the hamstrings after long periods of being seated and can feel wonderfully restorative too.

Sit on a pillow or folded blanket with your legs straight out in front of you and feet a little more than shoulder distance apart. Keeping your spine straight, hinge at the hips to bring your chest towards the ground. If you feel no pain or discomfort in the lower back, you might like to round the spine and place your head on a block placed between your legs. Rest your hands on your thighs, shins, or calves.

Modified savasana

Modified savasana

Here’s a safe way to practice savasana (and sleep!) during your third trimester. It can also be more comfortable to practice meditation like this than in a seated position.

Place a pillow at the top of your mat and lay down on your left side to bring your head to rest there. Place a block or pillow between your knees to keep them hip-distance apart and an optional pillow beneath your baby bump. Bring your left arm to rest below the pillow under your head and place your right hand on the ground in front of your chest.

Tips for Practicing Yoga in the Third Trimester

Follow these tips to ensure you continue enjoying your yoga practice into your third trimester.

  • Make room for your baby by adopting a wide-legged position in folding poses
  • Focus on breath over movement to calm your nervous system and relax your body
  • Listen to your body and stop or slow down as often and for as long as you like
  • Avoid backbends and abdominal work to prevent injury
  • Lie on your side instead of your back to avoid putting the weight of your baby and uterus on the vena cava – responsible for bringing blood back to your heart.

FAQs

Is It Safe to Do Yoga in the Third Trimester?

As long as your doctor or healthcare provider is on board, practicing yoga in your third trimester is safe.

Plenty of poses are safe and comfortable to practice during your final weeks of pregnancy, but you may need to modify them a little to avoid injury, discomfort, and strain.

Related: What Yoga Poses to Avoid When Pregnant

Is It Ok to Start Yoga in Your Third Trimester?

Yoga is one of the best types of movement for those expecting, no matter how far along they are or if they’ve ever practiced before.

If you want to start yoga during your third trimester, it’s a good idea to attend an in-person class where the teacher can keep an eye on you and help you to modify movements that might be uncomfortable.

Related: How to Modify Yoga for Pregnancy (12 Important Tips)

When starting yoga later in pregnancy, listen to your body and stop or slow down whenever you feel called to. You might also like to focus on pranayama (controlled breathing) and meditation over asana (poses) when practicing during the final weeks of pregnancy.

When Should You Stop Doing Yoga When Pregnant?

As long as your healthcare provider has given you the all-clear, you can practice yoga right up until birth. There are several poses that you might even like to turn to during labor!

If yoga is causing you pain and discomfort or feels like more effort than it’s worth, take a step back and try a gentler class or lay on your left side and breathe deeply into your belly for a few minutes.

Remember that yoga, as a practice, includes breathing, meditation, and making healthy choices – which can all be practiced with ease even when poses feel like too much.

Always consult your doctor, midwife, or healthcare professional before starting any form of exercise during pregnancy.

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