Awesome! You are now through the first trimester and entering the often-called feel-good trimester of pregnancy – the second trimester! The common problems of the first trimester, such as nausea, would by now decrease and the weeks of excitement when you start feeling the kicks of your little one begin. Though you feel physically and mentally energetic, the second trimester also has specific discomforts such as heartburn, digestive issues, and aches and pains. And as you rightly guessed, yoga can help manage such discomforts during the second trimester.
While there is no different opinion about exercise during the second trimester, you must know what to do and what not. We explore helpful yoga poses for the second trimester, the precautions to take, and the benefits yoga provides you.
Common second trimester problems that you can ease using yoga
As we delve further into the second trimester, let’s understand the challenges you might be facing and discover how yoga can lend a helping hand.
Pains and aches
While the first trimester sees great development for the baby, the second trimester sees your uterus growing significantly. As your baby and the uterus grows, so does the strain on your lower back, causing pain in the hips, pelvis, and lower back. In addition, relaxin, a hormone secreted during pregnancy, loosens the muscles and ligaments throughout the body (to prepare your body for childbirth) and can also cause pains in various parts, including the neck, back, hip, pelvis, and legs.
A common pregnancy complaint is leg cramps, which are more pronounced during the second trimester of pregnancy. Weight gain, changing body shape, and fluid retention may cause leg pain.
Anxiety is one of the many emotions pregnant women may experience during pregnancy. A moderate amount of fear and worry is common during pregnancy so you can feel anxious during the second trimester as well.
The growing uterus may push against the diaphragm restricting your lung capacity. Also, the amount of blood in a pregnant woman increases, and the heart works overload pumping more blood than usual throughout the body and to the placenta. In addition, the pregnancy hormones stimulate your brain to increase the frequency and quantity of air you breathe in so as to increase oxygen for the growing baby. All these may cause breathlessness.
Oedema, or swelling, especially in your feet and ankles, usually starts in the middle or late second trimester. Your blood volume increases by 50% during pregnancy, which means there is also a lot of fluid retention. In addition, prolonged standing or sitting and rapidly increasing weight may also put pressure on your feet, making them swell.
Digestive problems like heartburn and constipation are frequent companions of pregnancy. Pregnant women may also experience abdominal bloating and gas due to increased progesterone levels.
Yoga poses to avoid during the second trimester
Before learning about the helpful poses, it would be good to know the poses to avoid.
You must avoid,
- Yoga poses that need you to lie on your back. As your belly grows, the uterus may pressure the vena cava, one of the main veins carrying blood back to the heart. So lying down may cause breathlessness and increased heart rate in some women.
- Yoga poses that may contract abdominal muscles or compress the abdomen.
- Deep twists involving the abdomen should be avoided.
- Prone poses, intense forward or backward bends, and inversion poses must be avoided.
Here are some tips to make your yoga practice rejuvenating, restoring, and relaxing:
- Keep yourself from distractions, which may include your mobile phone, doorbells, conversations, your other children and pets.
- Get into and out of a pose very slowly, taking deep breaths and exhaling slowly.
- Do not push yourself to attain a pose. You can injure yourself or may even harm the baby.
- Do not practise yoga on an empty stomach. Have a light breakfast if you are doing it in the morning. If you prefer evening yoga, start after 2 hours of lunch.
- If you feel exhausted at any time during the practice, take sips of water and rest comfortably.
Safe and beneficial yoga poses for the second trimester of pregnancy
Having seen the yoga poses to avoid and the tips to make your yoga practice safe and enjoyable, let’s talk about the exciting part – the yoga poses for the second trimester.
The following is a yoga sequence containing yoga poses that will benefit you in your second trimester.
The yoga asanas in the sequence help,
- Improve strength in your lower body, which is essential during labour
- Stretch muscles and joints in various parts of the body, which is crucial for mobility, flexibility, and pain relief
- Calm the mind and body, which is necessary for relieving stress and anxiety during pregnancy
- Stretch abdominal muscles, improving digestion and reducing issues like heartburn and gas
1. Mountain pose (Tadasana)
Tadasana helps you prepare for the other asanas. When done with mindfulness, it draws energy from the earth and makes you stay calm and focused.
As your little one grows in the uterus and you gain weight around your belly, you may feel losing stability. Tadasana helps improve stability and also improves posture.
Stand with hip-wide feet apart. Breathe in deeply sucking energy around you. Breathe out slowly by calming your mind and body and bringing them to focus on the present.
2. Tree pose (Vrksasana)
With an emphasis on balance, this pose strengthens your legs and hips. Stand tall, place your right foot on your left inner thigh, and join your palms together. Repeat on the other side. If you feel wobbly, use a wall for support.
3. Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
This yoga pose is safe to do during the second trimester. It strengthens your legs, stretches your hips and spine, and improves balance — essential for adapting to your changing body.
Stand with your feet wide apart, turn your right foot outward, and bend your right knee. Extend your right arm toward the floor and your left arm toward the sky. Repeat on the other side.
4. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Virabhadrasana strengthens hips and leg muscles, improves stability and increases your stamina. In addition, it eases back pain and aids digestion.
Stand with your feet apart, turn your right foot out, and bend your right knee. Stretch your arms out in line with your shoulders. Turn your gaze towards your front hand and repeat on the other side.
5. Seated wide-legged forward bend
This asana gently works the abdominal muscles, helping in good digestion and relieving constipation. It also strengthens the hip and pelvic region, which is needed during delivery and labour.
Sit with wide legs supporting your tailbone with a blanket, if needed. Inhale and bend down, exhaling slowly. You may rest your forehead and elbows on blocks or folded blankets for support. Stay in the position for 30 seconds. Inhale and slowly rise to the erect position. Repeat a few times.
6. Bound angle pose (Baddha Konasana)
This seated pose also helps with hip opening and strengthening of pelvic muscles. Practising this pose relieves tension in the hips and lower back, a common issue during pregnancy.
Sit on the floor, bring your feet together, and allow your knees to fall outward. Hold your feet with your hands and lean slightly forward.
7. Cat-Cow pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
This flowing pose is great for gentle spine mobilization, relieving back discomfort. Actually, you can rely on this pose for back pain relief in all three trimesters. In addition, this duo help improve digestion.
On your hands and knees, arch your back upwards (cat) and then dip it down (cow), following your breath.
8. Bird dog pose
The bird dog pose helps stretch your spine, improves strength in the arms and lower body, and restores your sense of balance.
Go on all fours. Slowly inhale, lifting and stretching your left arm to your front and right leg to the back. Stay in the pose for a few seconds, then exhale and return on all fours. Repeat with your right arm and left leg.
9. Wide-legged child’s pose (Balasana)
Balasana is a relaxing pose helping you calm your mind and body. It is particularly good to relieve your lower body stress.
Kneel and sit on your heel. Widen your knees, stretch your arms in the front and slowly stretch your spine. Do not compress your abdomen by going all the way down. Have a rolled blanket or yoga block, rest your forehead on it, and stay in the child’s pose for about 30 seconds.
10. Legs-up-the-wall pose (Viparita Karani)
Legs-up-the-wall is a safe inversion yoga pose you can practise during the second trimester. Perfect for relieving swollen feet and ankles, this pose also promotes relaxation.
Doing this pose reduces varicose veins by encouraging blood flow and preventing blood pooling in the lower legs. In addition, the asana promotes the proper flow of lymph fluid, thus helping with swollen feet.
Sit sideways against a wall and slowly lie down on your left side. Move your butt close to the wall, and slowly lift your legs to rest on the walls. If your legs pull during the lift, you may bend your knees and stay comfortable. Keep your hands stretched out, breathe normally, and feel your body relax.
11. Corpse pose (Savasana)
Typically the closing pose in any yoga practice aids relaxation and allows the body to absorb the benefits of the practice, and what better asana than savasana?
As your belly grows, it is better not to lie on your back, so always end your yoga session with supported savasana.
Lie on your side and have a pillow under your belly for support. You may bend your knee and stay comfortable. Close your eyes, and feel each part of the body relaxing.
The second trimester sees big changes externally, with your belly growing bigger significantly than in the first trimester. Usual issues will be lower body pain, trouble with stability, fatigue, and stress. The brighter side? A vibrant three months with a lot of energy compared to the sluggish, nauseatic first trimester.
So, yoga in the second trimester aims to strengthen your hips and pelvic muscles to support you during delivery and labour. In addition, the asanas will improve your stamina, flexibility, and stability and, of course, relieves stress and anxiety.
Even on days you feel less motivated, move and stretch your body for at least a few minutes. That will do a lot of good to you and your growing baby.