As far as pregnancy symptoms go, morning sickness is my least favorite. It’s disruptive, exhausting, and hard to ignore. When you’re going through it, you’ll try pretty much anything to make your pregnancy nausea go away. The answer may be as simple as using prenatal yoga for nausea relief.
Morning sickness hit me like a ton of bricks during week 6 of my pregnancy – when we happened to be out of town for a wedding! I have so many fond memories from that trip, but the nausea, acid reflux, and throwing up in a train bathroom are not among them.
Things got a little better once we were home, but my morning sickness persisted. Practicing gentle yoga was one of the few things that helped my pregnancy nausea – even if I only had the energy for a 10-minute practice.
I’m so happy that I can share how yoga helped with my morning sickness. Hopefully, it will help you, too!
Keep reading to learn how prenatal yoga can help nausea and the best yoga poses for morning sickness.
(The contents of this post do not constitute medical advice. This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read our disclaimer.)
Prenatal Yoga for Nausea
Yoga has a great track record when it comes to managing nausea. Multiple studies have shown that yoga reduces nausea in chemotherapy patients. Plus, research has shown that pranayama practices like diaphragmatic breathing can help to diminish nausea and vomiting in GI and breast cancer patients.
There is also evidence that gentle movement can reduce nausea. So even if you feel like lying on the couch, give prenatal yoga for nausea a try and see if it helps!
Early on in your pregnancy, when your body hasn’t changed much yet, you may not need to seek out yoga poses specifically for pregnancy. But as you move through your second and third trimesters, prenatal yoga can be helpful because it offers additional supports and modifications for your pregnant body.
What Causes Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness usually shows up in the first trimester when pregnancy hormones like progesterone, estrogen, and hCG increase.
Additionally, the muscles of the digestive system relax during pregnancy. One of these is the lower esophageal sphincter, whose job is to keep stomach acid from traveling up the esophagus. This is why many people experience acid reflux during pregnancy. Acid reflux may get worse later in pregnancy when your growing baby puts pressure on your stomach.
Since acid reflux can be a direct cause of nausea, finding yoga poses and pranayama practices that address it may be helpful in managing your morning sickness.
4 Prenatal Yoga Poses for Nausea
Most yoga poses have specific benefits for the body, such as stimulating specific organs or stretching certain muscles and ligaments. The four poses I share below relieve morning sickness symptoms in different ways.
I’ve chosen poses that involve lying down so they’re accessible even when you’re feeling your worst. Get comfortable and stay in each pose for several minutes at a time. You can do just one pose or practice each one for 5 minutes for a total of 20 minutes.
If a pose is uncomfortable or painful, try making adjustments. If that doesn’t help, just move on to the next yoga pose on the list.
As always, check in with your healthcare provider before starting a new form of movement during pregnancy.
Prenatal Yoga Props
All of these poses utilize props or have them as an option for greater support. I love these blocks for supported poses because they’re extra sturdy, and I don’t worry about them moving when they’re holding me up. This is my favorite bolster. It’s supportive and soft, and it doesn’t take up too much space when I’m not using it.
You can find more of my favorite yoga props here.
1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose is helpful for pregnancy nausea because you’re at rest with your head down. Other poses that meet these standards may become difficult as your belly grows. But the way child’s pose is composed makes room for the changes in your body.
Getting into the pose: Begin on your hands and knees in tabletop pose. Take your knees out as wide as your mat and bring your big toes to touch. Press your hips back toward your heels. You can stretch your arms forward and bring your forehead to the mat. Or stack your hands underneath your forehead for more space and support.
Modifications and Supports: Place a block under your forehead or a bolster under your head and torso to offer support and make room for your belly. You may choose to drape your arms back by your sides instead of stretching them forward.
As your belly grows, you may need to take your knees wider to create more space.
2. Supported Reclining Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Supta baddha konasana is a recommended pose for digestive issues. In the supported version, lying at an angle rather than all the way down on your mat helps combat acid reflux.
Bound angle is also a hip opener, so if you’re struggling with hip or lower back pain during pregnancy (like me!), this is the pose for you.
Getting into the pose: Create your support with two blocks and a bolster. Near the back of your mat, set one block on the highest height. A few inches in front of that block, set the other block on the middle height. Lay your bolster over the blocks so that one end touches the floor and the other end extends just past the highest block.
Sit facing away from the support with your sacrum touching the end of your bolster. Gently lower yourself onto the support. If it doesn’t feel sturdy enough, make adjustments to your blocks.
Once you’re lying with your back on the bolster, bring your legs into bound angle. Bring the soles of your feet together and take your knees out wide. Bring your heels closer to or farther away from your body, depending on what feels most comfortable.
Modifications and Supports: If your hips are tight, try placing a block beneath each knee so that your hips don’t have to open as much.
3. Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
Legs up the wall is an inversion known for regulating imbalances. It’s an excellent position to relieve nausea.
First, legs up the wall activates the parasympathetic nervous system and the relaxation response, known as rest and digest. When you’re stressed, digestion slows. Resting in legs up the wall helps to get things moving again.
Additionally, having your legs up the wall takes pressure off your abdomen. This allows more blood flow to your digestive organs, which will combat the slow digestion caused by pregnancy hormones.
Legs up the wall has added benefits as a prenatal yoga pose. It improves circulation and reduces swelling in the feet and ankles, which can be a problem later in pregnancy. And if you’re struggling with sleep (like so many do during pregnancy), try legs up the wall for five minutes before bed. Since it’s such a calming pose, it will likely help you drift off in no time.
Getting into the pose: Pull your mat up to a wall. Sit with one hip against the wall. Lean back onto the floor, using your arms to support you, while you fan your legs up onto the wall. Lie back on your mat with your tailbone near or against the wall. Allow your legs to relax and let the wall support them rather than holding your legs straight.
Modifications and Supports: You might place a bolster or folded blanket under your sacrum for cushioning, to deepen the stretch of your hip extensors, and to increase the inversion.
You can also use a chair for this pose instead of a wall. You’ll get into the pose the same way but rest your calves on the seat of the chair rather than against the wall.
4. Supported Reclining Hero Pose (Supta Virasana)
Supported reclining hero is an excellent prenatal pose for nausea. As you lie back into the pose, your diaphragm lifts off of your stomach and liver, relieving some tension. As the added pressure on your stomach during pregnancy can cause nausea, reclining hero pose is an opportunity for some relief.
Getting into the pose: Unsupported backbends are generally not recommended during pregnancy. So we will support reclining hero pose with with a bolster, which you’ll place in the middle of your mat.
Start by sitting in hero pose (virasana) just in front of your bolster. Kneel with your knees touching. With the tops of your feet touching the floor, slide your feet apart until you are sitting down between your feet.
Slowly lower your back toward your bolster, placing your forearms on the floor to support you. Finish lowering your back onto the bolster. Open your arms to the side and rest the backs of your hands on the floor to open your chest.
Modifications and Supports: Add as many props as you need to make this pose safe and comfortable. You might place blocks beneath your bolster and/or blankets on top to add more height. If your head hangs off the end of the bolster, add a folded blanket or a pillow to the top of the bolster so you can rest your head there.
If you cannot comfortably sit between your feet in virasana, you may try sitting on a yoga block before reclining onto your bolster.
Contraindications: Avoid this pose if you have serious back, ankle, or knee problems or if you have developed core issues during pregnancy.
Prenatal yoga for nausea can help you get through this difficult period in pregnancy. Make sure to be patient with yourself and follow other morning sickness advice as you move through it.
Which prenatal yoga pose for nausea do you find most helpful? Tell me in the comments!