Lower back pain is an incredibly common pregnancy symptom! It’s estimated that 50 to 80% of pregnant women will have lower back pain. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean we have to accept it! Let me introduce you to 10 prenatal yoga poses for lower back pain relief.
Keep reading to learn the causes of lower back pain during pregnancy and the prenatal yoga poses that will alleviate your pain.
(The contents of this post do not constitute medical advice. This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read our disclaimer.)
What Causes Lower Back Pain in Pregnancy?
Lower back pain during pregnancy has several potential causes. Some are due to the way your body changes when you’re pregnant, and others are behaviors and habits that you may be able to change.
- Hormonal Changes – The hormone relaxin causes the joints and ligaments to loosen. The benefit of relaxin is that it’s preparing your body for childbirth. But that loosening can put a greater burden on other parts of your back, causing strain.
- Changing Center of Gravity – As your baby and belly grow, your center of gravity will shift forward, which can cause posture changes. This may lead to greater strain and pain in your lower back.
- Increased Weight – Along with those postural changes, a growing baby means more weight to support, which could explain the achiness in your lower back.
- Diastasis Recti – As the belly expands, many pregnant women will experience diastasis recti, when the rectus abdominus muscles pull apart. Since your core supports your lower back, this separation can mean that your back has to do more of the work to support your body alone.
- Emotional Stress – Emotional stress can cause tension in areas like your shoulders or back. If you’re experiencing stress during your pregnancy, try some of these tips for a mindful pregnancy.
- Excessive Activity – Excessive standing or bending over can strain your lower back (or deepen pain that is already present). Try to be aware of your activity level and decrease your time on your feet. If you have to stand a lot at work, ask for a reasonable accommodation like a chair, more frequent breaks, or exemption from strenuous activities.
10 Prenatal Yoga Poses for Lower Back Pain
Some of these pregnancy yoga poses directly address the lower back, while others target tight hips and glutes, since tightness in those areas can contribute to lower back pain.
You can perform these prenatal yoga poses individually or move through them all in a flow that will provide relief from your lower back pain.
As with any new exercise or movement, check in with your healthcare provider before beginning.
1. Seated Side Bend (Sukhasana variation)
This side bend will relieve tightness through your hips and lower back.
How to do it: Find a comfortable seated position. This can be crossed-legged, kneeling, or even sitting on a chair. Sit up tall, drawing your shoulders up toward your ears and then down your back.
Taking a deep deep breath in through your nose, sweep your arms up toward the ceiling with your palms facing each other. On your exhale, bring your right hand to the floor, crawling it out to the side. Stretch your left arm over to the right.
Remain here for several breaths, noticing the stretch through your lower back and left side body. Repeat on the other side.
2. Bound Angle (Baddha Konasana)
Bound angle is a classic hip opener and perfect for stretching tight inner thighs.
How to do it: From a seat, bring the soles of your feet together and place your hands around your ankles. Take a deep inhale, sitting up tall. On your exhale, lean forward any amount, finding your best stretch.
Related: 5 Best Prenatal Yoga Mats
3. Firelog (Agnistambhasana)
Firelog provides an intense stretch for the glutes and outer hips and can be helpful for sciatica.
How to do it: From a seat, place one shin parallel to the floor. Stack your other leg directly on top of it, bringing your top ankle over your bottom knee and your top knee over your bottom ankle.
For a deeper stretch, lean forward. Repeat with the other leg on top.
If your hips are very tight, try placing a block or folded blanket beneath your top knee. You might also warm up your hips with bound angle and cow/cat before performing firelog pose.
4. Cow/Cat (Bitilasana/Marjaryasana)
Together, cow and cat relieve tension in your back and gently massage the spine, warming it up for other poses.
How to do it: Begin in tabletop on your hands and knees. Bring your wrists beneath your shoulders, spreading your fingers wide. Bring your knees beneath your hips or a little wider, depending on what’s most comfortable for you. Draw your belly button toward your spine.
On your next inhale, drop your belly, lift your head and hips, and look up toward the ceiling for cow. On your exhale, press the floor away, drop your head and hips, and round your spine for cat. Move through several cows and cats, following the rhythm of your breath.
Don’t worry about pressing too deeply into a backbend in these poses. Listen to your body and only take them as far as feels comfortable for you, paying special attention to your back.
5. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose is a restful hip and back stretch with the added benefit of stretching the arms and shoulders.
How to do it: From tabletop, widen your knees to the edges of your mat or as wide as is comfortable. Touch your big toes together and press your hips back toward your heels. Stretch your arms forward or stack your hands and rest your forehead on them.
If child’s pose feels too intense, try bringing your knees closer together. Or place a bolster longways beneath your torso. You have the options of resting your arms back along your side and turning your head to rest your cheek on the bolster.
6. Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana)
Goddess pose opens the hips while strengthening and toning the lower body.
How to do it: From a wide-legged standing position with the feet about 3 feet apart, turn your feet out at 45 degree angles. Begin to squat down, bending your knees over your toes until your hips come to knee height. Press your hips forward and draw your knees back.
Drop your shoulders down and back. Lift your arms up to shoulder height. Bend your arms and the elbow and spread your fingers wide so they point toward the ceiling. Remain in goddess pose for several breaths.
7. Sleeping Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Sleeping pigeon is a deep hip opener and glute stretch that externally rotates one leg and stretches the psoas of the other. It is best to practice this pose after several other hip openers.
How to do it: Begin on your hands and knees. Draw your right knee toward your right wrist. Angle your right shin in front of your torso so that your right ankle comes in front of your left knee. Allow your right shin to rest on the floor.
Slide your left knee back, allowing your leg to straighten and your knee to rest on the floor. Make sure that your leg is pointing straight back, not out to the left.
If you’re comfortable and your belly allows, you can come down to your forearms, either keeping your head lifted or lowering it toward the floor.
You may want to rest your forearms on a bolster or place a prop beneath your right hip for increased support. Repeat sleeping pigeon on the other side.
8. Garland Squat (Malasana)
Garland pose is an amazing back stretch and hip opener. Because the hormone relaxin loosens the joints and ligaments in your pelvis when you’re pregnant, it is easier to overextend beyond your flexibility.
Transitions slowly into and out of this squat and consider placing a block under your butt for support and to keep you from extending too far into the pose.
How to do it: From standing, take your feet out about as wide as your mat and turn your toes out at a 45 degree angle. Bring your hands together at heart center and slowly bend your knees, squatting down. You may lower as far down as your knees can bend, place a block under your butt, or stop your squat at the height that feels most comfortable for your knees.
Bring your elbows to the inside of your thighs, pressing them apart while keeping your hands together. Keep your back straight and your chest open. Remain in malasana for several breaths.
9. Half Lift (Ardha Uttanasana)
After sleeping pigeon, half lift is my favorite yoga pose because of the way it stretches the lower back and improves posture, which will help prevent lower back pain during your pregnancy!
How to do it: From forward fold, bring your hands to your shins, pushing them away as you lengthen through your spine. Draw the crown of your head forward.
You may bend your knees slightly to perform this pose. You also have the option of placing blocks under your hands or placing your hands on the seat of a chair.
10. Ragdoll (Uttanasana variation)
This variation of standing forward bend stretches your hamstrings, glutes, and back.
How to do it: From standing, take your feet a little wider than your hips and bend into forward fold. Leaving a gentle bend in your knees, hold each elbow with the opposite hand. Allow your head to hang heavy, stretching out the back of your neck.
Either hang here in ragdoll or gently sway from side to side.
Which prenatal yoga pose helps the most with your lower back pain? Tell me in the comments!
Frequently Asked Questions
Does prenatal yoga help with back pain?
Yes! Prenatal yoga can be very helpful for back pain during pregnancy. Other than using the yoga poses from this article, you can also take in-person prenatal yoga classes or follow prenatal yoga videos.
How can a pregnant woman relieve lower back pain?
Besides practicing prenatal yoga, pregnant women can relieve lower back pain by reducing stress with deep breaths, avoiding excessive standing or bending, and applying gentle heat to the lower back.
What is the best position to relieve back pain during pregnancy?
Bound angle pose is a wonderful position for relieving lower back pain during pregnancy. It gently stretches the hips and lower back while leaving you easily in control of how deep you go into the pose.