This stretch gently strengthens your lower back and pelvis. It also increases spine mobility and takes pressure off your tailbone.
Muscles worked: This pelvic tilt moves your spine by using your arm, abdominal, and back muscles.
Begin on all fours, with your feet flat (toes not tucked). Keep your shoulders directly over your wrists and hips directly over your knees.
As you inhale, drop your belly, letting your back arch but keeping your shoulders rolled back and down. This is Cow.
As you exhale, press into your hands and round your upper back. This is Cat.
Continue moving on your inhales and exhales. Repeat 10 times.
2. Standing Cat-Cow
This is basically the above stretch, but it’s done standing. This moves the spine differently and provides you with a bit more mobility in the stretch itself. This can really help you find what you need for your body.
Equipment needed: sturdy wall
Muscles worked: all the same muscles as Cat-Cow, plus the glutes and leg muscles
Begin standing with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart, about 2 feet from the wall.
Press your hands into the wall at shoulder height, and as you begin to walk your hands down the wall, walk your feet backward. You want to create an “L” with your body. If it feels better to stay a bit higher up, it’s fine to stay there, as long as you feel stable.
As you inhale, drop your belly. Let your back arch, just like in Cow (above).
As you exhale, press against the wall and round your upper back.
Alternate arching and rounding your back 10 times.
3. Downward-Facing Dog
This pose will help stretch and strengthen your lower back, the backs of your legs, and help lengthen your spine.
Muscles worked: foot muscles, triceps, quads, lats
Starting on all fours on the mat, tuck your toes under. Inhale and gently lift your hips as you push into your hands.
Exhale. You can walk your hands or feet out a little if it feels more comfortable. When you’re in a comfortable stance, push evenly into all 10 fingers.
Pedal your feet out here if you like, or simply extend your heels toward the ground.
Keep your shoulders plugged into their joints, your upper back broadening, and your spine extending. Keep your awareness here on not letting your back bow.
Note: This is an inversion pose. Avoid it late in the third trimester (after week 33) unless you’ve talked to your doctor and had an active yoga practice before pregnancy.
This is a gentle stretch for your hip flexors. It also strengthens your lower back, abdominals, and glutes. This can help relieve hip and lower back aches.
Muscles worked: gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, rectus abdominis, hip flexors
Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, approximately hip-width apart. Your feet can be a little farther apart if it’s more comfortable. Keep your arms straight alongside your body.
As you inhale, curl your pelvis until your lower back is gently pressing against the floor and the movement flows into you, lifting your hips.
Hold here, with your hips above chest level for a few counts.
As you exhale, gently roll your spine back onto the ground, one vertebra at a time.
As you relax preparing for the next lift, be sure your spine is neutral (meaning your lower back will be slightly off the ground, respecting the natural curve of your lumbar spine).
Repeat 10 times.
5. Child’s Pose
This pose is a great back and hip stretch. It eases pain in all parts of the spine, including the lower back and pelvis.
Equipment needed: a pillow to support your abdomen (optional)
Muscles worked: glutes, hip rotators, hamstrings, spinal extensors
Begin on all fours on the mat with your knees directly under your hips. Your big toes should be touching. This will give your belly room to slide between your knees and avoid putting strain on your hips.
Inhale and feel your spine grow longer.
As you exhale, lower your butt to your heels. Tuck your chin to your chest.
Rest here, forehead on the ground, keeping your arms outstretched. You can also fold a blanket and let your head rest on it.
Hold this for at least 5 deep, even breaths.
Note: You can also widen your toes if having them touching puts any pressure on your knees or doesn’t provide enough room for your belly. A pillow placed lengthwise between your knees will support your abdomen.