Side note: this aren't just for preggos! If you're nursing an injury or just getting into yoga, these are fantastic options for you, too.
5 Common Prenatal Yoga Modifications
1) Twisted chair
All twists get challenging as soon as you start to "show" in your pregnancy. They're also difficult for people with lower back pain or spine fusions, and can also be challenging if you're new to yoga and aren't used to moving your spine in this fashion. Don't worry, you'll get there newbies! But in the meantime, leave your back straight and lessen the twist by only moving from your spine with your arms outstretched. You'll still feel the "rinsing" of your spine, but you won't over do it. If you're pregnant, no pressure is applied on the baby this way. If you're not, your spine will only let you twist as far as it will move so your risk of injury is reduced.
Chatturanga is hard! Possibly, one of the most challenging yoga poses. It requires immense arm, back and core strength. So for those who are carrying a few extra pregnancy pounds, doing this pose from your knees is a great alternative! It's also good for EVERYONE during your warm up so you don't over strain yourself and hurt your back. Simply put your knees down before bending your arms into your sides for the push up. This reduces the weight your triceps need to carry and makes the pose accessible to more levels of fitness.
3) Boat pose
In traditional boat pose, your legs are together and if your core is super strong, they're fully extended with your arms reaching forward. With a belly in the way, I separate my legs to the sides of my baby. Because I have so much baby there (who has inconveniently relocated where my ab muscles are!) I also use my arms to hold on to the backs of my knees for support. If you don't have a strong core, keep your legs together with your knees bent and feet flexed. If you need more support, use your arms like I am in this photo until you develop your core strength enough to hold your legs with only your abs.
If you're a bendy preggo (aka, flexible) this is also a fun deviation from boat pose. Grab on to your big toes and stretch your legs up! Your feet are "supposed" to be together in this variation, but because of my baby bump, they're separated. Stretch on, mamas!
4) Seated twist
Perhaps you're looking at this and wondering what's modified about it. Truth be told, I JUST figured this modification out! Typically, when doing a seated twist, you twist INTO your bent leg and use your opposite arm as leverage to take you further into the twist. I'm going the other way, because my bent knee would get in the way of my bump. This enables me to get a great twist (it feels so good on sore lower pregnant backs!) but allows enough room for baby to hang out safely and not get squished by my quad. Win-win.
5) Side plank
Planks are all about the core. And balance. Two things pregnant women have very little of! So instead of balancing on two fully extended legs and the sides of my flexed feet, I put my lower leg down for core strength support. If I want more from the pose, I can lift my extended leg up (keeping the foot flexed - there are no pointed toes in yoga! Dancers, I'm looking at you...) When I keep my leg down like I have pictured above, extending my top arm overhead creates a great stretch in the side body.
The further you progress into your pregnancy, the more you'll need to adapt your yoga poses to fit your growing bump. These prenatal yoga modifications are also great for those who are coming back from an injury (or have a nagging chronic injury) and for all the yoga newbies who just want to get familiar with the poses before they go all out. What ever camp you fall into, these prenatal yoga modifications will help you have a successful, lifelong yoga practice!