Pregnancy Yoga Poses to Alleviate Common Side Effects of Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is riddled with aches and pains. Here are a few of the most common I hear of, and some solutions to alleviate them. I hope this helps, my pregnant friends!

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Normally caused by increased repetitive hand and decreased wrist motion, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can occur due to increased blood volume and fluid retention. These can cause an impingement of the nerves and range of motion in and around the shoulder joint and wrist.

Asanas to do: Shoulder and chest opening poses, and wrist stretches. Many poses that require the palms to be flat on the mat can be done on the forearms or knuckles. Also, rolling the mat up or putting a wedge under the heel of the hand can lessen sharp wrist flexion.

Asanas to avoid: Excessive wrist flexion.

Alternative remedies: acupuncture, splints, hot/cold bath, and massage to release tight shoulders and chest muscles.


Pregnant women may have trouble dropping into dreamland. Insomnia could be because of hypoglycemia – your blood sugar is low. Your body may be hungry without consciously recognizing it. Seven to ten hours is a long time to go without nourishment. This long stretch of time between meals could cause the blood sugar to drop, and a small snack or even just a glass of milk could help you fall back to sleep.

Asanas to do: Restorative poses, pranyamas such as sama vrtti and deep belly breathing, seated mediation.

Asanas to avoid: A rigorous late night yoga practice.

Alternative remedies: Foods rich in B vitamins can help resolve insomnia – particularly vitamin B6, according to research. Here are a few suggestions for foods full of vitamin B6: meat, brown rice, fish, wheat germ, whole grain cereals, and soybeans.

Community Advice:

This next piece of advice actually came from the doctor of one of my students: Take a warm bath right before bed. She said it helps to fully empty the bladder. My understanding of this theory is that a bath helps to relax the sphincters and pelvic muscles, allowing for full evacuation of the bladder. Maybe that is why so many little kids pee in the pool! Regardless of the reason, many students have reported back that this works for them. I would also recommend limiting fluid intake close to bedtime.

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True sciatica is defined as the compression of the sciatic nerve in the lumbar spine as it exits the intervertebral foramen. Piriformis syndrome is caused when the piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve. The feeling can range from extreme radiating pain that runs down the back of the leg, all the way to the heel, or may feel more localized in the deep buttock region.

Asanas to do: Hip opening poses. Do NOT overdo external rotation poses. External Rotation poses: pigeon pose, ankle-to-knee, half ankle-to-knee. Gentle buttock stretches like tarasana, and internal rotation poses like pigeon-toed prasrita padatonasana, virasana poses, ardha virasana.

Asanas to avoid: Straight leg forward bends. Either bend the knees or allow the legs to slightly externally rotate the legs. Poses that will exaggerate the tightening of the buttocks.

Alternative remedies: Acupuncture, massage, icing the piriformis area.

Read Next | 8 Tips to Relieve Foot Pain During Pregnancy

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Debra Flashenberg, CD(DONA), LCCE, E-RYT 500 is the director of the Prenatal Yoga Center. After several years as a yoga student, she decided to continue her education and became certified as a Bikram Yoga instructor. In 2006, Debra received her certification as a Lamaze® Certified Childbirth Educator. In September of 2007, Debra completed a Midwife Assistant Program with Ina May Gaskin, Pamela Hunt and many of the other Farm Midwives at The Farm Midwifery Center in Tennessee. Drawing on her experience as a prenatal yoga teacher, labor support doula and childbirth educator, Debra looks to establish safe and effective classes for pregnancy and beyond.

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