In Yoga the chair is a familiar prop enabling greater access to a wide range of postures. During pregnancy the chair is an invaluable way to adapt and practice many yoga postures including inversions, forward bends, twists and balances. Antenatal Yoga Teacher, Birth Doula and Founder of Becoming Mother, Nadia Raafat takes us through a Chair Yoga sequence for Pregnancy.

Before we begin please ensure you place all four legs of your chair uponyour mat to ensure a safe practice or alternatively place your chair legs agains the wall. Those with PGP should avoid straddling the chair and in Yoga the chair is a familiar prop enabling greater access to a wide range of postures. During
pregnancy the chair is an invaluable way to adapt and practice many yoga postures including
inversions, forward bends, twists and balances.

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Breath Awareness

Coming to sit on your chair, feet flat on the floor in front of you, hip width apart. Bring your hands to your belly. Allow your eyes to close. Take some time to settle into your body, feeling the ground beneath your feet, the chair beneath your seat. Once grounded, focusing awareness on your breath to effortlessly and steadily lengthen the breath.

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Head Circles

Begin by gently dropping the chin forwards on the exhale and inhale return to centre. Exhale release the head back, inhale return to centre. Repeat this a few times before you start mindfully rolling your head back and forth across your chest in half circles. Inhale, lift a quarter turn to the right. Exhale, rolling your head across and inhale lift a quarter turn to the left. Again repeat a few times to mobilise the neck. If that feels good you might like to expand into full neck circles continuing to flow with the breath.

OM Chair Yoga for Pregnancy pdf-4 Shoulder Rolls and Scapular Rolls

Release your arms by your side, isolate the shoulder joints and circle in both directions, flowing with the breath. Three times in both directions. Next, cross your arms in front of your heart and roll your
shoulder blades in both directions initiating as much movement as possible to awaken the area.
Now we need to stand up, turn around and come into a straddle position on the chair, left hand on the centre of the chair, right arm by your side ready for some lateral bending.
OM Chair Yoga for Pregnancy pdf-1 Lateral Bend Flow

Raise the right arm on an inhalation, Exhale small lateral bend to the left. Draw the chin down, the shoulder away from the ear. On the nextin-breath be aware of the right intercostals stretching and waist lengthening. As you exhale move gradually into a deeper side bend. Repeat across another cycle of breath then inhale, up to centre and release the right arm down. Swap sides. Essentially you are waiting for the breath to open the side-body and then let that take you slowly into your side bend. Follow the held pose with a dynamic side-bending practice, lifting on the inhale, side bending on the exhale. Repeat five times on each side.

OM Chair Yoga for Pregnancy pdf-5 Pelvic Circles

Leaning forwards on your chair, holding the back of the chair with your hands, press down through the feet and circle the torso. Shifting the weight around the pelvis using your upper body to massage your pelvic outlet – Pubis, left sit-bone, tailbone, right sit-bone.This is a great way to familiarise yourself with the birthing body and the space through which your baby will emerge.This movement can be used effectively during labour to encourage the baby deeper into the outlet. Be aware of all the soft tissue between those four points which makes up the layers of your pelvic floor muscles.

OM Chair Yoga for Pregnancy pdf-7 Kneeling Tricep Stretch

Lowering your knees to the floor. Slightly pushing the chair forwards, so that your knees and hip bones are aligned. bending your elbows place the backs of your upper arms on the seat of the chair. If you are
uncomfortable, try a blanket beneath your arms. Rest your forehead on your upper arms. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to the breath using it to let go of any resistance to this gentle tricep stretch. , breath by breath, be aware of the triceps starting to soften and lengthen.

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Standing High Squat Flow

Turning your chair around and clasping your hands to the back of the chair. Bring the feet wider than the hips, externally rotate the hips and ensure the hips, knees and ankle joints feel aligned and comfortable. Come into the high squat on an exhale and push up to standing on an inhale. As you squat, take care to ensure that the weight of the body is spread evenly across the soles of the feet. Be aware of the space in the pelvic outlet opening up as you squat and closing as you stand. This is a golden pregnancy movement that can be used antenatally for pelvic awareness and tone, and during labour to open up the pelvis and bring your baby down.

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Standing Lunge with Twist

This time we are going to use our chair to come into a twist. Place your left foot on the chair. Hips in neutral. Right arm by your side. Breathe in to raise the right arm forwards, up and round in a large circle following your hand with your gaze to bring you into a spacious open twist to the right.. Repeat three times then lower
the left foot to the floor. Raise the right foot to the chair and breathe in to raise the left arm forwards and up twisting to the left on the exhalation. Repeat three times. If you need more stabilisation, hold the back of the chair. Once complete, lower your foot to the floor and roll away any stiffness from the hips.

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Standing Half Squat, Half Lunge

From here transitioning into half squat, half lunge – a fantastic pelvic and hip opener. Placing the left foot on the chair,and bring your hands to the back rest for support. both hips and ankles are externally rotated. spine tall, bending both knees, exhale. Inhale to push up.

Notice the space created in the right hip as you squat. inhale to push up. Lower the left leg. Step up with the right. Opening both hips. Moving with the breath. This is a very useful position for a stalled
labour especially if you know your baby is on one side.

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Adapted Flowing Three Legged Dog

Clasp the sides of the chair, place the feet hip width apart. Inhale and raise the right leg behind you, open the right hip and bend the right knee. Exhale and lower back down. swap sides. See if you can stack the left hip
on top of the right behind you, pointing the toes as you flow from one side to the other. Stretching the hip flexors, the psoas and strengthening the back body in a back bend, this easy dynamic version can feel very
satisfying in late pregnancy.

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Adapted Downward Facing Dog;

This pose is suitable for all stagesof pregnancy. Plant the feet wider than hip width, clasp the back of the chair and reach back through the sit bones elongating the spine. Feel the length through the front and back of the torso. Draw back and up through the tail. As always with Dog Pose, drawing the ribcage forwards and down towards the hips. The head and neck are in a neutral position. This pose is a mild inversion and so calms the nervous system and releases stress. Spend 5 breaths here. To come up, bend your knees, step forwards and roll up slowly through the spine to standing. To counterpose the inversion, inhale reach the arms wide and up and exhale lower your hands to prayer position.

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Seated Pigeon Pose

Sitting down on the chair with feet planted, hip width apart. Inhale raise and open the right hip and place the right ankle on your left thigh, flexing that right ankle joint. You can use this opportunity,, to massage the feet which can suffer from oedema especially in late pregnancy. Stimulate the soles of the feet and stretch the toes.

Keeping the ankle joint flexed, ensure you are sitting upright, before tilting forwards from the hips. Keep the torso long and  the neck and head aligned. Coming to the breath as you feel the big opening in the right hip, and the stretch through the right gluteals. Use the breath to release any tension inviting a quality of softness to your pose. Spend at least five breaths here. To deepen and intensify, tilt the torso further forwards. Inhale and Slowly bring yourself back up to an upright position, releasing the right foot to the floor. It’s a big movement so allow your body to integrate it before you swap sides.

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Wide Kneeling Pose

In this classic position for labour and birth. The body is upright, the pelvis is tilted forwards and open and you are in a position to turn your attention inwards without disturbance. Have a rolled up blanket placed between your heels and sitting bones. You may not need it but most people have a little bit of discomfort initially while they get used to this position.

Bring your awareness all the way down to the pelvic outlet which you may notice is open and spacious in this position.

This is an ideal position to practice pelvic floor awareness with the breath; gathering the pelvic floor towards the centre and lifting the perineum on the inhalation and releasing down and open on the exhalation. Alternatively simply to hold your awareness here and watch the breath gently and subtly stretching and releasing the pelvic diaphragm.

After 10 breaths, raise your torso upright and bring your hands to your heart to close your practice.


Nadia is the co-founder of Battersea Yoga Centre in SW London, a popular independent yoga and meditation centre. She is also founder of Becoming Mother; a Mindful Birth Education Program. She has helped hundreds of women to manage pregnancy stress and birth with confidence through her Yoga and Mindfulness for birth programme.

Nadia Raafat’s Becoming Mother Yoga & Mindfulness DVD is available via: