Savasana during Pregnancy: 4 Ways to Safely Modify It

Savasana is a pleasant ending of any yoga practice. Yet, it can be especially beneficial and enjoyable to rest in Savasana during pregnancy when you may not be getting as much rest as you’d like to or need.

However, as your pregnancy progresses, you’ll need to modify this pose so that you stay safe and comfortable.

Why and When Do You Need to Modify Savasana during Pregnancy?

During the first months of your pregnancy, your baby and uterus are still very small. Therefore, during the first months it still OK for you to lie on your back.

But, as you reach 16 weeks of 4 months, your baby is roughly the size of an avocado. So, along with the placenta, uterus and the amniotic fluid, the weight of your belly increases.

If you lay on your back, all this weight presses on your inferior vena cava. That’s a large vein to the right of your spine that carries blood from the lower part of your body to the heart. This blood is deoxygenated. From the heart, it travels into the lungs where it gets oxygen. Then, the oxygen-rich blood returns to the heart and gets distributed to the rest of the body.

During the later months of pregnancy, lying on your back can cause compression of the inferior vena cava. It can lower your blood pressure, make you dizzy, cause pain and muscle twitching, as well as fluid retention.

To prevent this from happening, do not lay on your back after week 16. Some experts say that up to 20 weeks is fine, as well.  

Yet, if you are worried or in doubt, you can start modifying Savasana even earlier.

4 Ways of Modifying Savasana during Pregnancy

The best ways to modify Savasana during pregnancy is to lie on your side or create a gentle incline that props your body up at an angle.

How you can do that? With the use of yoga props! (Or anything that can serve as yoga props if you do not have any at hand.)

Below, I describe 4 different ways in which you can do that.

1. Inclined Savasana with Straight Legs

For this variation, you’ll need 2 blocks and a bolster. You can also use a blanket (or a few).

  1. Start by placing 2 blocks at the back of your mat. Make sure to put them on the mat rather than on the floor as it will prevent slipping.
  2. Set the first block on its lowest setting closer to the center of your mat. This block will be closer to your butt.
  3. Then, place the second block right behind it at its highest setting. This one will be under your head. Depending on your height at what feels comfortable, both blocks can touch or there can be a slight gap between them. So, try and see what works best for you.
  4. Next, place the bolster over both blocks. Firm standard rectangular bolsters will work best for this. The lower end of the bolster should be on the mat. The upper end of the bolster should align with the back edge of the tall block. More or less, don’t obsess over that.
  5. If you don’ feel comfortable or if your ribs are flaring up, place a blanket at the top of the bolster to support your head. It too may need some adjustment to feel more comfortable.
  6. Sit on the mat so that your lower back touches the bolster.
  7. Walk your hands back to slowly, lean back, and prop your back against the bolster. It’s best to not use your abs to lean back as an incorrect engagement of your abs can place unnecessary strain on your connective tissues and contribute to the development of diastasis recti.
  8. Straighten your legs and separate your feet.
  9. You can cover yourself up with a blanket if you feel chilly.
  10. Close your eyes and relax.
  11. To exit this modification of Savasana, slightly roll to your right side, use your hands to prop yourself up into a seated position. Avoid using your abs when you do so, too.

You can use folded blankets instead of a bolster. Though a bolster will provide more stability and support.

2. Inclined Savasana with Butterfly Legs

This variation is very similar to the one above. However, instead of straight legs, position your legs in Butterfly Pose.

To modify Savasana during pregnancy in this way, follow all the steps above apart from 8. Instead of straightening your legs, bend your knees, move your feet towards your glutes, and press your feet together.  

Your hips may not feel comfortable if you spend a longer period of time in this pose. This may happen if you have tight hip flexors or even later in pregnancy.  If that happens to you, place folded blankets under your knees.

3. Side-Lying Savasana with Bent Knees

Another way of modifying Savasana during pregnancy is by lying on the side. Though, due to the increased flexibility of your joints and your growing belly, this may not feel comfortable. The solution to that is yoga props!

You’ll need a bolster and a few blankets. A smaller bolster, for example, a pranayama bolster will feel more comfortable than a standard one. Instead, you can simply use several blankets.

  1. Fold a blanket that will serve as support for your head. This will keep your head in line with your spine and prevent pulling or over-stretching in the neck and shoulders.
  2. Afterward, lie down on your side. Which side? Well, both could technically work. Traditionally, in yoga philosophy, the right side represents your active, solar energy. Laying on it is considered invigorating. This is why you are asked to roll on your right side to exit Savasana. When you lay on your right side, your heart is above your other organs. Thus, there is less pressure on it. Medics, however, recommend lying on the left side. This ensures better blood circulation and less pressure on your liver. If you lay on your right, your uterus presses on the liver. Traditionally, the left side represents your slow, lunar energy, and laying on it is believed to be relaxing. Since both sides have their benefits, listen to your body and do what feels best.
  3. Then, bend your knees and place a bolster or folded blankets between your legs. Make sure the bolster or blankets are between both your knees and ankles. This will make sure there is no pressure or pulling in the low back and will be more comfortable on your hips.
  4. If you feel like the weight of your belly is pulling your center down, you can place another blanket under your belly.
  5. If you feel chilly, cover yourself up with a blanket.
  6. Close your eyes and relax.
  7. To exit this variation of Savasana, simply push yourself up with the hand that’s opposite to the side that you are lying on.

4. Side-Lying Savasana with Bent Upper Knee

For this modification of Savasana during pregnancy, you’ll need a few blankets and a bolster. Nonetheless, a standard rectangular bolster will work best. You can use several blankets instead of the bolster, too.

  1. Place a folded blanket at the back of your mat. It will prop your head and keep it in line with your spine.
  2. Then, lie on your side. Both your right and left side are possible as each has its own reasons. (You can read about them in step 2 under modification #3.)
  3. Keep your bottom leg straight.
  4. Afterward, place a bolster or folded blankets in front of your straight leg and lay your upper knee on top. If the bolster feels too low, set a blanket over it. Keep both your top knee and your top ankle on the bolster (or blankets).
  5. Finally, use a folded blanket under your belly if it’s pulling your center down.
  6. Cover up with a blanket if you are feeling cold.
  7. Close your eyes and enjoy your Savasana.
  8. To get out of the pose, press yourself up with the opposite hand.

No Props, No Problem!

If you have no props at hand, that’s not an issue. Don’t be afraid to get creative and use anything that you have around – sweaters, pillows, cushions, and similar.

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