Parivrtta padottanasana and supported pigeon pose can help relieve lower back pressure and open the hips while emphasizing safety and support appropriate for the third trimester of pregnancy.
Parivrtta Padottanasana is a safe pose even without any support, but this variation uses a fitness ball for extra support to take away any margin of error. If you don't have a fitness ball, you can use the seat of a stable chair.
- Begin by standing on the mat with legs wide and the fitness ball between your knees.
- Hold your arms straight out from your shoulders, and try to align your feet underneath your wrists.
- Once you feel comfortable and grounded, place your hands on the front of your hips and slowly push them backward.
- As you bend forward, roll the ball out a little further in front of you and reach your tailbone upward.
- Keep your hands on the fitness ball for support. As you bend forward, focus on feeling relief in your lower back as pressure from the weight of the baby is removed.
- Relax into the pose, allowing gravity to work with your posture rather than trying to resist it.
- If you feel comfortable and stable, you can move to a deeper stretch by taking your hands off of the fitness ball and placing them on the floor in front of you, allowing your head to dangle.
- Think of your head as a pendulum or anchor that draws the entire spine down closer to the floor.
- Stay active in your shoulders by moving them away from your ears in order to keep your neck long.
- Inhale, breathing into your hips.
- If you like, take the opportunity to do some Kegel exercises. With an inhale, send your breath into your pelvis and use an exhale to contract the pelvic floor.
- Repeat two or three times, continuing to breathe and allow gravity to act on your body. It's perfectly fine for your head to come to rest on the floor. If it does, you may want to roll your neck and shoulders to help relieve any tension that has built up.
- When you're ready to exit the pose, slowly walk your hands forward. Use your ball or the seat of the chair to gently draw yourself back up to a standing position, and walk your feet in to prepare for the next pose.
Supported pigeon uses a bolster to offer extra support to the hips.
- Begin on all fours, with hands aligned directly beneath your shoulders and knees aligned directly beneath your hips, with the bolster underneath you on the right side of the mat.
- Slowly move your right knee forward between your hands, and ease your right hip onto the bolster.
- Keeping your weight supported by the bolster ensures that there's no chance for losing balance during the pose and falling over, so make sure that you feel stable.
- Reach your left leg back. If you can, try to let your kneecap and quadricep make contact with the floor.
- Once you're in the position, work on perfecting the alignment. Strive for your forward leg to make a right angle, and for your forward foot to stay active and flexed, as though stepping on an invisible sidewalk.
- When you feel comfortable, breathe deeply into your pelvis, inhaling and exhaling fully for a few breaths.
- To exit the posture, bend into your back leg and shift onto your right hip. Place your hands on the mat so that your right knee is between them, and use your hands to slowly work back to your starting position on all fours.
- Move the bolster to the other side of the mat, and repeat the position for your left side.
- If you like, finish the practice with a few cat cow postures in order to open your spine and relieve any pressure or pain on your lower back.
If you feel any discomfort where your body makes contact with the floor or mat, remember that you can always use a folded blanket or towel for extra padding. The goal is to create movement in the body while still feeling as comfortable as possible.