10 Yoga Poses to Relieve Lower Back Pain during Pregnancy

There are many wonderful things about pregnancy. For starters, our bodies grow a completely new little human. However, what’s not nearly as wonderful is all the pains, aches, and discomfort that we experience along the way.

But, don’t worry. You’re in good company and most definitely not alone. Lower back pain during pregnancy if one of the most frequent complaints that many women have, especially as pregnancy progresses. And, most importantly, there are things that you can do, and yoga can most definitely help.

Let’s take a look at why that happens first, though.

Why You May Have Lower Back Pain during Pregnancy

There are plenty of reasons that make up a perfect cocktail for lower back pain during pregnancy to occur. Understanding them can help adapt your lifestyle and yoga practice to alleviate it.

Weight Gain

During pregnancy, women gain around 25-35 pounds or 11-15 kilos. That includes the growing baby, placenta, amniotic fluid, increased blood volume, breast tissue, and more.  A lot of that is concentrated in the belly and the spine needs to support it.

Changes in Posture

The center of gravity in the female body is in the hips, close to the spine. However, as the weight of your belly increases during pregnancy, it shifts forward. As a result, you may start adjusting the way you stand, walk and move.

These postural adjustments are very gradual. So, you likely won’t even notice them. Your belly likely shifts forward, tilting your pelvis forward and down and creating a more pronounced lower back curve. That can create muscle tension and compression in the lumbar spine.

You may not notice that right away, but with time you may start experiencing discomfort in the area.

Hormones

Women need to deal with a lot of hormones. In pregnancy, even more so. One of them, in particular, can contribute to lower back pain during pregnancy. That’s relaxin.

Relaxin is responsible for loosening the joints in order to make your hips wider for the birthing process. It makes it easier for your pelvic bones to shift as the baby passes through the birth canal.

However, relaxin can’t choose which joints and muscles need to be loosened. So, it loosens them all. If you’ve heard or read about dialing back the intensity of your physical activity or the weight that you are lifting, it’s one of the primary reasons for that.

Relaxin also loosens the muscles that support the spine. Along with increased back curve and pressure on the lumbar spine, that can create pain and discomfort.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Most people have sedentary jobs and lifestyles. If you do not work on hip flexibility, over time, this creates tight hip flexors. To compensate for this tightness, the pelvis shifts forward and your lower back curve increases.

Add the pregnancy weight gain, center of gravity shift, and loosened muscles and there you go. You’ve got tons of pressure on the lower back.

Abdominal Separation

Have you ever heard your teacher tell you to engage lower belly muscles to protect the lumbar spine? There’s a reason for that. Certain muscle groups in our bodies have antagonist muscles. As one of them contracts, the other one relaxes.

For your back muscles, the antagonist group is your abdominals. As you contract your belly muscles, the spinal ones relax. That lessens the lower back curve, as well as stretches and relaxes the area.

During pregnancy, as there is more pressure on your abdominals and they separate, they are no longer able to provide enough support for the back muscles.

Stress

It’s common to experience a great deal of stress and anxiety when you are pregnant. After all, you’re about to embark on a journey you’ve never been on before. Even if you already have one baby, having another one is still an uncharted territory.

Stress and anxiety are often associated with back pain, stiffness, and tension. So, they can exacerbate existing back pain or even create it.

Certain Activities

Certain activities and jobs may require you to lean forward a lot. For instance, if you are a hairdresser or a masseuse or you lean forward while washing the dishes or cleaning up.

Under regular circumstances, you may not notice much of anything. Yet, during pregnancy there is extra weight pulling your center down and thus creating additional tension on your lower back.

How Yoga Can Relieve Lower Back Pain during Pregnancy

Yoga Increases Hip and Hamstring Flexibility

Tight hips and hamstrings can make you adapt your posture in order to compensate for this tightness without you even realizing it. As a result, your lower back can suffer. There are many different poses in yoga that target hips and hamstrings and can help ease lower back pain during pregnancy.

Yoga Develops Core Strength

While some abdominal exercises are a no-no, working on core strength can be incredibly beneficial and help us deal with or prevent lower back pain in pregnancy. There are plenty of yoga poses that can help to safely work on core strength without causing harm to the developing baby or causing abdominal separation.

Yoga Develops Body-Mind Awareness

We have developed to ignore our bodies and what they need. For example, our bodies may need a nap. However, we’ll get another coffee to keep going rather give our bodies the rest they need.

Yoga helps us to tune inwards and develop more body awareness. Because of that, we are more likely no notice tiny signs of pain and discomfort and make the changes needed to help our bodies deal with them.

Yoga Helps You to Have a Better Posture

With all the changes happening in the body, pregnancy can be quite of a challenge on your posture. Because yoga helps you develop flexibility and strength as well as greater body awareness, this can help you maintain a good posture despite all the changes and notice when you need to adjust yourself to ease pain or discomfort.

Yoga Helps to Relieve Stress

Yoga does not only help us stretch and release accumulated tension. It also provides us with a variety of relaxation techniques and a little me-time to help us deal with stress.

Yoga Poses to Ease Lower Back Pain during Pregnancy

1.Mountain Pose

One of the most basic yoga poses, Mountain Pose can immensely improve your posture. Make sure you don’t just stand there or speed through the pose. Adjust and engage your muscles correctly. Then, spend a few breaths in the pose. Check out how to do Mountain Pose and widen your stance during pregnancy.

2. Seated Twists

While closed twists where your belly presses against your legs is a type of yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy, open twists are not only fine, but can work wonders in relieving lower back tension. Make sure to tuck your tailbone in as you do them.

3.Cat-Cows

Cat-Cow flow is great for increasing the flexibility of the spine, hamstrings, and abdomen. This makes it great for reducing back tension and pain in different areas of the back, including the low back. When doing cat pose, pull your belly button in. This will gently engage your abs and work on your core strength, as well.

4. Sunbird Pose

Sunbird Pose is an excellent way to safely strengthen your core. To do that, gently pull your belly button towards the spine to properly engage your abs.

You can hold this pose for several breaths on each side or do a flow by touching your knee with your opposite elbow on the exhales and extending your arm and leg on the inhales. As your pregnancy progresses, this will get harder to do. So, don’t worry if your elbow and knee don’t touch. Instead, make sure not to compress your belly.

Tuck your bottom foot in if you need more support. Since you will be entering this pose from Table Top Position, you can also start by lifting your knee and straightening your leg without moving your foot. This will give your hamstrings an extra stretch.

5. Downward Dog

Downward Dog Pose can help you to decompress the spine and lengthen the hamstrings both of which can help ease lower back pain during pregnancy.

Keep in mind though that frequently people round their back and dump their weight into their wrists if their hamstrings feel tight. This makes Down Dog feel really uncomfortable. To avoid that, check out how to do Downward Dog Pose correctly. Also, place your feet wider than hip-distance to allow more space for your belly.

6. Lunges

Lunges are some of the staple poses for developing hip and hamstring flexibility. Greater flexibility in these areas can ease lower back pain over time. Tuck your tailbone in as you do lunges to lengthen your hip flexors more instead of curving your back.

Low lunges will feel more stable during the later stages of pregnancy. Tuck the back foot in for extra support. If high lunges are very wobbly, skip them altogether or use a chair, the wall, or something of the kind as a prop.

7. Half Splits

You can add Half Splits to your yoga practice to lengthen your hamstrings. You can practice them after Low Lunges. Or, you can use a Low Lunge and Half Split flow to work on both your hip flexors and hamstrings.

To get the most out of your Half Splits, move your shoulders back and down, open your chest, and keep your back straight. Then, engage your quads and flex the foot of the extended leg. This will release the hamstrings without rounding your back. Prop your hands on a set of blocks if that feels more comfortable and gives more space your belly.

8. Wide-Legged Forward Fold

Wide-Legged Forward Fold, both seated and standing, can help to decompress the spine and lengthen the hamstrings.

Engage your quads and flex your feet in Seated Wide-Legged Forward Fold. If your hands aren’t comfortably reaching the mat, prop them on some blocks. Keep your back straight and your chest open in either one of the variations.

9. Pigeon Pose

Pigeon pose can do wonders for hip flexibility and release the pain and tension in the low back, too. In Pigeon Pose, flex your front foot. It will make the stretch in your glutes a bit more intense. If the pose feels really challenging, place a block or a folded blanket under the hip of your folded leg.

During the later months of pregnancy, there may not be much space for your belly. You can shift a bit to the side and prop your arms on a bolster or blankets.

10. Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose is a relaxing pose that can decompress the spine and release tension in the lower back and shoulders.

Widen your knees to allow more space for your growing baby. You can also relax your upper body on a bolster or a stack of blankets for Supported Child’s Pose. For an additional stretch, extend your arms ahead of you and lift the center of your palm so that only the tips of your fingers remain on your mat.

In Conclusion

If you choose to join a prenatal yoga class, most of these poses will likely become a part of your regular yoga practice.  

However, if you find yourself experiencing lower back pain outside class, simply complete the poses in this list in the order they are listed. That should result in a quick and balanced 10-15 minute flow. You can add a modified Savasana if you’d like to relax for a bit longer.

Let me know how it goes!


There are 2 comments

  1. Mary Sampson

    This was exactly what I was looking for. I’ve been struggling with lower back pain from the beginning of the second trimester. Thanks a million.

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