Yoga during pregnancy is getting popular for many good reasons. Specific poses can help relieve various health problems that are common during pregnancy. Undoubtedly, yoga can help with constipation also. This article explores yoga asanas that are safe to be practised during pregnancy and effective in helping relieve constipation.
Why is constipation common during pregnancy?
While anyone can suffer from constipation, there are more reasons for pregnant women to have problems with bowel movements. Typically, 16 to 39% of expecting moms suffer from constipation at some point during pregnancy.
The common reasons for constipation during pregnancy are:
- Increased progesterone during pregnancy may cause your gut to work less efficiently.
- Exercise stimulates the bowels. Reduced physical activity during pregnancy can decrease bowel movements, causing constipation.
- Prenatal vitamins like iron may cause constipation in some women.
- As the baby grows, your uterus may put pressure on the intestines, making it harder for the waste to get eliminated.
- Taking less fibre can contribute to constipation during pregnancy.
- Not taking enough fluids can make it harder for you to pass the stools.
Reasons why yoga can relieve and prevent constipation during pregnancy
Yoga during pregnancy is often associated with deep stretches for muscle relaxation and meditation for relieving stress. But the ancient science of yoga can do much more for pregnant women, including easing constipation woes.
Improves the digestive process
Yoga asanas, such as twisting poses, inversions, and forward bends, can stimulate the digestive organs, improve blood flow to the digestive system, enable the process of peristalsis, and encourage the stools to pass through easily.
Stress can cause havoc to various bodily functions, including bowel movements; hence, keeping your stress levels low is important. Yoga can immensely help in relaxing both your mind and body and may aid the effective functioning of the digestive system.
Safe yoga poses to relieve constipation during pregnancy
Since you have read this far, it is obvious you want to try yoga to relieve constipation. Great decision, and you won’t be disappointed. So, roll out your yoga mat and give it a try!
1. Half spinal twist (Matsyasana)
This pose gently massages the digestive organs, enabling bowel movements.
- Sit with both legs straight out in front of the body.
- Bend your right leg and place the foot on the ground, outside of the left leg near its knee.
- Bend your left leg and place your foot under or close to your right buttock.
- Place your left hand or elbow over your right knee and slowly twist your body, looking at the back through your right shoulder.
- Hold the pose for a few seconds, and repeat on the other side.
2. Supine spinal twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
This twisting pose also gently massages the digestive organs, helping in proper digestion and effective bowel movements. It also helps relieve other abdominal issues like bloating and gas.
- Lie on your back (supine) and stretch out your arms at the shoulder level.
- Bend your left leg at the knee and cross it over your right leg.
- Feel the stretch, and hold it for a few seconds.
- Come back to the supine position and repeat on the other side.
3. Child’s pose (Balasana)
This pose gently stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles while calming the brain, helping to relieve stress and fatigue. In pregnancy, it’s beneficial as it aids digestion and relieves back pain, too.
- Sit on your knees, placing your buttocks on the heels.
- Bend and stretch out your hands in front, slightly widening the gap between your knees.
- Bend as much as you can without exerting pressure on your abdomen.
- Feel the stretch in your hip, spine, and pelvic area.
- Hold the pose for a minute or two before returning to the original position.
4. Wind-Relieving Pose (Pavanamuktasana)
As the name suggests, this asana helps relieve gas. The yoga pose also applies pressure to the abdominal area, enabling the digestive organs to work effectively and may help with constipation during pregnancy.
- Lie on your back with your legs together stretched out and hands close to your body.
- Gently bend both the legs at your knees and bring them close to your chest.
- Hold your legs at the knees with your hands like you are embracing them.
- Ensure your movements are slow and gentle; the legs should exert mild pressure on the abdomen.
- Hold the pose for a few seconds, and then rest in savasana.
5. Butterfly pose (Baddha Konasana)
This pose helps improve flexibility in the groin and hip region. It also improves digestion and alleviates symptoms of discomfort related to the digestive system, including constipation during pregnancy.
- Sit with your legs stretched apart in front of your body.
- Slowly bend at your knees and bring your heels close to your groin.
- You may use your elbows to press on the legs and maximise the stretch.
- Hold the pose for a few seconds before resting in sukhasana.
** If you need support while sitting, you may arrange bolsters behind and sit comfortably while practising the asana. Alternatively, you can also do this pose while lying down.
6. Triangle pose (Trikonasana)
This pose stretches the spine, opens the torso, and helps improve the digestive process, thereby aiding in relieving constipation. Remember to maintain a gentle posture and not to overstretch.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width wide apart and hands stretched out sideways.
- Bend to the left as far as possible. For support, you may have a yoga block to rest your hand.
- Hold the pose for a few seconds before repeating the same on the other side.
7. Squat pose (Malasana)
One of the most beneficial yoga poses for constipation relief during pregnancy, Malasana, helps open up the hips and pelvic muscles and stimulates the digestive system.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Fold your hands in a namaste pose.
- Slowly go down to a squatting position, widening your thighs as far as you are able to.
- Let your upper arms or elbows apply a bit of pressure on the thighs, helping you to hold the position.
- You may find it hard to get into the pose when you are in your second or third trimester as your belly grows. You may have someone to hold a yoga block and guide you to sit on it while you maintain the pose.
8. Cat-cow pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
This couplet promotes a flexible and healthy spine. It also stimulates the digestive organs, enhancing digestion and bowel movements.
- Start on all fours.
- Gently lift your back and feel your tummy tucked in as you breathe.
- Slouch your back and relax your abdominal muscles as you breathe out.
9. Legs-up-the-wall pose (Viparita karani)
This inversion asana calms your mind and improves blood flow to the digestive system. Thus, it enhances digestion and promotes bowel movements.
During pregnancy, performing legs up the wall can be challenging. Prenatal yoga instructors suggest elevating your hips for comfort and to achieve the pose’s intended relaxation benefits.
- Arrange bolsters or blocks to support your hips while practising the asana.
- Sit sideways to a wall with your left butt close to the wall.
- Extend your right arm on the floor away from the body.
- Slowly lie down, rest your hips and head on the support you have arranged, and climb on the wall with your legs.
- Move as close to the wall as possible, stretch out your arms, and rest your legs on the wall.
- Hold the pose for five to ten minutes.
10. Corpse pose (Savasana)
Though this is a relaxing yoga pose, it’s crucial as it aids overall well-being and reduces stress, indirectly helping in better digestion and relieving constipation during pregnancy.
- Lie down on your back and focus on every organ, from your toes to your head.
- Observe and feel each of these organs relaxing.
- As the baby grows and the uterus enlarges, try the modified savasana, where you lie on your side with one leg on a bolster and relax your mind and body.
What are the Dos and Don’ts while practising yoga?
Yoga can work wonders if done correctly. Here are the important dos and don’ts to remember.
- Take expert help: If you are entirely new to yoga, learn from an expert before practising by yourself.
- Stay hydrated: Water does more things than you think, and staying hydrated before and after yoga is crucial. Hydration improves blood flow and keeps your mind clear. It also makes you less fatigued by the hot weather, yoga practice, or both.
- Use props: Using yoga props like blocks, bolsters, and straps can help you maintain balance and perform poses safely.
- Listen to your body: Your body knows its limits. If a pose feels uncomfortable, modify it or skip it. Never push beyond what feels right.
- Focus on breathing: Yoga is not just about the physical poses. Sync your movement with your breath to reap the maximum benefits.
- Don’t rush: Avoid rushing into poses. Take your time to enter and exit a pose, maintaining mindful movements.
- Avoid intense twists and inversions: Deep twists and inversion poses can be risky during pregnancy. Your instructor can provide safe alternatives.
- Don’t hold your breath: Holding your breath can cause pressure build-up. Keep your breath smooth and regular during the poses.
- Avoid hot yoga: The increased heat can raise your body temperature, which is not advisable during pregnancy.
- Don’t neglect pain: Any discomfort or pain during a pose is a signal from your body to stop. Never ignore it.
Yoga can be beneficial in relieving constipation during pregnancy, but combining it with other healthy lifestyle habits can lead to faster results. These habits include drinking enough water, consuming fibre-rich foods, increasing the intake of vegetables and fruits, avoiding prolonged sitting, and steering clear of processed foods.
Together, yoga and a healthy lifestyle will not only relieve but can prevent constipation during pregnancy!