Explore safe yoga poses for the second trimester of pregnancy to build strength, open your hips, practice balance, relieve sciatica pain and be more present in your body as your baby grows.
When I began the second trimester of pregnancy, I was both relieved and anxious. It felt like a new milestone to celebrate, but with the realization that there was still a long way to go in this journey. I was grateful for the abundance of resources at my fingertips, though it was sometimes overwhelming to discern reliable sources. I received advice from doctors, family and friends — and I tried to keep an open mind when unwelcome opinions were shared. Most importantly, I learned to be present with my body and ask for support, especially as I adapted my daily routine and exercise to fit this stage of pregnancy.
Between weeks 14 and 28, I experienced more energy and less nausea (though this will vary for every person). I also noticed shortness of breath (not just when I was walking up the stairs), congestion and heartburn. It was harder to get comfortable, as I was often too warm and my skin was itchy (the heat of summer didn’t help). I busted a couple of water bottles as I became more clumsy. I traded in my high heels for flats and supportive tennis shoes and I treated myself to a few prenatal massages to relieve back aches and leg cramps. Needless to say, there were a lot of physical changes. The most exciting change was feeling my baby move more. During the second trimester, babies develop their senses, start to swallow, and noticeably grow in size.
As my baby continued to grow and my body changed (each day felt like a new adventure), I tailored my yoga practice to focus on functional poses for upper body strength, hip-opening, balance, sciatica relief and spacious comfort. I filmed a yoga sequence below that included safe poses I practiced throughout my second trimester. Make sure to check with your healthcare provider before exercising. Remember to listen to your body, rest when needed, and use props for support. I recommend having two yoga blocks (or thick books), a blanket and a bolster (or long pillow) set up near your mat.
You can also practice any of the movements from the video individually throughout the day.
To build upper body strength, try:
Easy pose (sukhasana) with goddess arms: Take a cross-legged seat and reach your arms out with your elbows bent like you are holding a platter in each hand. Stay in the pose for 2 minutes or more to feel the burn!
Supported side plank (salamba vasisthasana) with arm circles: From a table top position (bharmanasana), plant your right palm on a block or the mat under your shoulder. Rest your right knee on a blanket on the mat. Extend the other leg long with your foot parallel to the end of the mat. Reach your left arm up (you can move the top arm in shoulder circles for more shoulder opening). Return to table and repeat on the other side
To open your hips, try:
Table top (bharmanasana) with hip circles: Place a blanket under your knees. From all fours, begin moving your body in a slow circle. Then switch directions
Lizard pose (utthan pristhasana): From a table top position (bharmanasana), bring your right foot forward and to the outside of your right hand. Your back knee can rest on a blanket. Start to move your front hip in circles. Switch directions with the circles. Then return to a table and repeat on the other side
Wave squat (a variation of malasana): Stand with your feet wider than your shoulders and toes pointing outward. As you exhale, come into a squat and lower your arms toward the ground. As you inhale, stand up and reach your arms toward the ceiling. You can envision picking up and holding your baby as you move
Garland pose (malasana): Stand with your feet wider than your shoulders and toes pointing outward. Come into a deep squat. You can place a block underneath your seat for support. Bring your hands to your heart and lengthen your chest. You can use your elbows to gently open the legs wider
To practice balance, try:
Tree pose (vrksasana): From mountain pose (tadasana), shift your weight onto the right leg. Pick your left leg up, open your hip to the side and make a kickstand with your left foot or bring the foot to the shin below the knee or above the knee to rest on the inner thigh. You can use a wall next to you for support. Then switch legs and repeat on the other side
Chair pose (utkatasana): From mountain pose (tadasana), bend your knees and pretend like you are sitting in an invisible chair. You can bring your hands to your heart or reach them up overhead
To relieve sciatica pain, try:
Wide downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana): From a table top position (bharmanasana), walk your feet back. You can take a wider stance, bringing your feet closer to the edges of your mat. Lift your hips up and extend your spine. Release tension in your neck. This position will help reposition your baby so there is less pressure resting on the sciatic nerve
Seated figure 4 (upavishati kapotasana): You can do this pose on a chair or seated on a blanket or mat. Cross your right leg over your left leg and flex your right foot. Sit with a tall spine and use your hands for support (you can grab the edges of your chair or rest your hands by your hips on the mat). You can also use a wall behind you to support your back. Then uncross your legs and repeat on the other side
Once you have moved your body, give yourself permission to rest in a side-lying savasana. Place a bolster (or pillow) between your legs and roll up a blanket under your neck and shoulders. Then let your body relax and take deep breaths. You deserve it!
What changes do you notice between the first and second trimester in your body? While there are many postures that are safe for the second trimester, it is best to avoid poses that constrict the belly, such as prone poses or deep twists. Additionally, after 20 weeks, it is not recommended to lay flat on your back, which could cause breathlessness or increased heart rate from putting pressure on the vena cava (a vein that returns blood to the heart). As long as you follow guidelines from your doctor and listen to your body, you will be able to practice yoga safely throughout your pregnancy.
I am here to support you during this journey. Leave me a comment below and let me know how these yoga postures felt. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about a one-on-one session, send me a message using the contact form at the bottom of my homepage or email me at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
With love and gratitude, Shannon