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Yogi approved by Keira Shepherd, Certified Yoga Instructor with a 1st Class Honors in Education Studies.
As with your entire pregnancy, you should attempt physical activity with caution. This is particularly true of the third trimester when your center of gravity will have changed a lot, and your body is starting to prepare itself for labor and delivery.
In a healthy pregnancy, there is no reason to stop practicing prenatal yoga once you reach the third trimester, and there are many poses that can be hugely beneficial during the final weeks.
The best yoga poses for the third trimester are those that work on strengthening and relaxing the muscles and joints, as well as those that are relaxing for the mom-to-be. Yoga during the third trimester is going to be a lot steadier than yoga practiced at any other time before or during your pregnancy – it’s especially important to take things slowly and take care of your body at this time.
For those who are new to yoga and want to start practice during the third trimester, it’s essential to discuss this with your healthcare professional. A yoga class will be much safer and more suitable than practicing yoga by yourself at home – so find a local class or prenatal yoga teacher, and connect with some fellow expectant moms!
In this article, I will discuss the precautions that are necessary to take when practicing yoga in the third trimester and the nine best poses to practice in the weeks before your baby arrives!
Medical Disclaimer: The information and recommendations on our site do not constitute a medical consultation. See a certified medical professional for diagnosis.
Precautions to take in the third trimester 🤰
The precautions you need to take in the third trimester are the same as those you need to be aware of in the second trimester. But, it’s even more important to make adjustments for your changing belly and listen to your body.
As your belly grows and you gain those extra kilos, you might notice your center of gravity changing. This can make it more challenging to balance, which is why it’s essential to perform any standing balancing poses – such as Tree Pose or Warrior III – by using a chair or a wall to support you.
Avoid lying on your back.
From the second trimester, it is suggested that you stop lying on your back. The weight of your baby and your uterus can compress the vena cava – a small vein that is responsible for transferring blood back to your heart can make you feel dizzy and lower your blood pressure when squeezed.
During poses that are usually practiced on your back, you can use pillows to prop yourself up at about 45-degrees – which is even more comfortable than it sounds!
Take care of your core
Just as in the second trimester, you shouldn’t put any strain or pressure on your core. When moving into poses that are practiced on the back, begin by lying down on your side and then rolling onto your propped up pillows. Avoid poses that put a direct strain on your core, such as Boat Pose and Upward-Facing Dog.
Talk to your doctor
If you’ve been practicing yoga throughout your pregnancy, it’s more than likely that you’ll be able to continue practicing throughout the third trimester. With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to discuss any prenatal exercise that you are taking part in at every appointment with your midwife or doctor.
Adjust the poses
Adjust the poses; however, you need to make them comfortable for you and your growing belly. From week 36, you might want to slow your practice down to one, which focuses more on relaxation and stretching over continuous movement and strengthening.
The best yoga poses for the third trimester 🤰
In the third trimester, the general rule of yoga is to avoid or adapt any poses that do not feel comfortable or those that cause pain. Below are some of the best yoga poses for the third trimester, but this doesn’t mean that you should practice them if they cause discomfort! As always, listen to your body.
Reclined Butterfly Pose
Reclined Butterfly Pose is one of the best prenatal yoga poses for opening the hips, relieving lower back pain, and relaxation. Sit reclined at a 45-degree angle and place the soles of your feet together. Relax the hands to your sides or above your head, close your eyes, and stay here tuning into your breath for as long as you feel comfortable.
If this pose causes a lot of strain in your hips, place a pillow or block under each knee to bring them slightly away from the floor.
Yogi squat is a beautiful pose that can be practiced right up until the end of pregnancy. However, if your baby is in a breech position, is causing you pelvic pain, or feels uncomfortable in a squatting position, it is best to avoid it.
From a standing position, bring the feet as wide as the shoulders and lower down into a squat position – use as many blocks as you need underneath the sit bones to keep your feet flat on the floor. You can also use an exercise ball, a wall, or a person to lean back onto to keep your feet flat on the floor, ensure that the spine stays extended, and avoid rounding in the shoulders.
Goddess Pose is excellent for opening, balancing, and stabilizing the muscles and joints in the hip area. Start from standing and open the feet about as wide as the length of one of your legs, turn the toes outwards as you sink the hips until they are in line with your knees. The best way to remain stable in the pose during the third trimester is to hold onto the back of a chair with both hands.
Savasana is the best part of any yoga class, especially when you’re expecting and making the most of those final days of peace! Laying on your left side, place one cushion between your bent knees, one under your bump, and another under your head. It is recommended that you lay on the left side during later pregnancy as it improves circulation and makes it easier for your body to transport nutrient-rich blood to your baby.
Wide-legged Child’s Pose
‘Child’s Pose’ will always be my favorite cue to hear during any yoga class, and for a good reason, it’s grounding, relaxing, and great for relieving stress! From a kneeling position, bring the knees as wide as your mat, then walk your hands in front of you until you’re able to bring your forehead to the ground, a cushion, or a block. Place a pillow underneath your chest and your seat bones if you need more space for your belly.
Cat-cow is a great tool to use during pregnancy and labor. It relieves the weight of your baby from the spine and helps to keep the back body flexible. Start on all fours, then inhale to drop your belly and look ahead, on an exhale round the spine, and look towards the ground. Take this pose very gently, and don’t overstretch the abdomen! Cat-cow can also help to move your baby into an anterior position ready for birth.
If you continue to find Bridge Pose comfortable during the later stages of pregnancy, it can help turn a breech baby. Start on your back with your knees bent, then as you exhale, push into your feet and lift your hips towards the ceiling. Hold the pose for 2-3 breaths and repeat this 2-3 times.
Warrior-I can be a little more challenging during the first trimester when you’re finding it increasingly difficult to balance. Because of this, consider practicing the pose by holding onto the back of a chair or using a wall for support.
Stand with your feet at least hip-width apart, then step the right foot backward and turn the toes slightly out to the right. Lift your arms if you feel stable enough, and if you need more stability, move your feet into a slightly wider stance.
Tree Pose is excellent for opening the hips and relieving lower back pain, but it can be hard to balance in even when you’re not pregnant! Keep a chair next to you for balance as you bring the sole of one foot onto the opposite calf or thigh. Push the knee of the lifted leg away from you for more relief in the hips and lower back.
Prenatal yoga is the perfect way to spend some time on yourself before your baby’s arrival; make the most of it, but always remember to take precautions and stay safe in your practice. Listen to your body every time you move into a different pose, and if something doesn’t feel right, it’s best to avoid it.
Keira Shepherd is a certified yoga teacher living in Toulouse, France. Originally from the UK, Keira received a First-Class Honours degree in Education Studies at Oxford Brookes University after completing her dissertation on the topic of using special technologies when teaching children with autism. Keira is a keen traveler and has spent a lot of time teaching a variety of different practices – such as yoga and scuba diving – around the world. Now settled in France, she is a mother of one and shares her passion for an environmentally sustainable life through her motherhood blog.