5 Chest Opening Yoga Poses for Pregnancy

As you progress through pregnancy and the uterus expands, the diaphragm gets pushed upward and the ribs flare outward to make space. In addition, your growing belly will cause the shoulders and head to tilt forward into a slouched position. Thus, breathing will become more difficult in the third trimester. Try these chest opening yoga stretches to improve spine flexibility, stretch tight muscles in front of the chest and shoulders, and improve breathing overall.

Open Book Pose 

  • Start by lying on your side with your knees bent and legs together. Arms are straight and palms pressing together. 
  • Slowly start to slide the top hand on your bottom arm as you turn your chest up toward the ceiling. Feel a stretch in the low to mid part of your back. 
  • Breathe throughout the exercise and don’t force the stretch. If both shoulderblades don’t touch the floor, keep the top arm bent
  • Reverse the movement until you’re back in the starting position

Modified Fish

  • Traditionally done with the crown of the head on the floor; with pregnancy, it is best to try this pose with the head and torso elevated
  • Use 2-3 pillows or a bolster and place a yoga block (lowest height) toward middle of the bolster. Lie on on the props with the entire spine and head supported. Your upper back will rest on the yoga block. You can rest your arms by your side and keep the knees bent and feet on the floor
  • Breathe comfortably into the chest and make sure that there is no strain on your neck 

Cow Pose

  • Start in all fours position with a straight spine
  • Take a deep breath and start to tilt the pelvis downward, arching the back 
  • Draw the chest forward, letting the head lift last and inhale into the chest 
  • Return to a straight spine or alternate with a cat stretch

Supported Cobbler’s Pose 

  • Use 2-3 pillows or a bolster and lie down on the prop with your head and spine fully supported. Additional yoga blocks under the prop can further elevate your head and upper body.
  • Bring the soles of the feet together and let the knees open to the sides. 
  • If you have tight hips, yoga blocks or pillows under the knees will make this pose more comfortable
  • Stretch the arms out into a “T” shape to get a good stretch across the chest and front of the shoulders

Crescent Moon Pose 

  • Start in a half kneeling position with yoga blocks on either side to help with balance
  • The legs are slightly wider than hip width to accommodate the belly
  • As you exhale, tighten the lower belly and deepen the lunge stretch. Make sure that there is no discomfort in the low back
  • Extend both arms overhead with these options: palms facing each other/ pressing together/ hands folded behind your head with elbows apart 
  • Take your gaze slowly upward, feeling a stretch in the upper back

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