Of all the subject I’ve written on for Ali, this one, you can be sure, I am an expert on! Those of you who know me know that my three daughters and I are, without a doubt, fertile yogis. Yoga and pregnancyare a match made in heaven. With care and modification (and elimination of strong twists and inversions), you should be able to enjoy the feeling of health and vitality…while lessening lower back discomfort. You will also find that due to strengthening the abdominal floor and pelvic muscles you can experience a much easier delivery and postnatal recovery. It is important to check with your doctor before beginning any type of prenatal yoga class…especially if you have never practiced before. This article will address 1. prenatal yoga basics 2. The first ten weeks of pregnancy 3. Yoga in the first trimester of pregnancy 4. Good poses for the first trimester and, 5. Poses to avoid.
The First Trimester
The first three months of pregnancy can be quite taxing. The body is going through a tremendous physical and hormonal changes. Many women experience fatigue. The body is very busy building the life maintaining shelter for the new life growing within. The hormones that build up the uterine lining being are released. The body increases it blood volume to to assist in buildup the uterine lining.
The First Ten Weeks
It is really important to understand that in the first ten weeks of pregnancy, one is at the highest risk of miscarriage. The activities practiced during this period should be gentle stretches and deep breathing exercises. This is the period when the embryo is attaching to the uterine wall. ***Any twisting or inversions postures, with the exception of Downward Facing Dog, should be avoided.
Good Poses for the First Trimester
When in your first trimester you should be able to do most “basic” yoga poses. You should rest when you are tired.
Most standing poses such as Extended Triangle Pose, Extended Side Angle Pose, Warrior 1-3 are fine in the first trimester. Even balancing poses such as Tree Pose and Eagle Pose are okay, provided they are done near the wall or with a chair in front of you in case of balance loss. Strengthening the leg muscles and the pelvic floor is important preparation for the second and third trimester…as well as delivery. Yoga encourages good circulation in the legs to prevent cramping as blood pressure starts to drop.*** Standing twists such as Revolved Triangle Pose, and Revolved Side Angle Pose, however, should be avoided because of the pressure they put on the abdominal cavity. This is vital to avoid throughout he pregnancy…but is especially important in the first ten weeks while the fetus in embedding into the uterine wall. Open seated twists can help relieve aches in the lower back and help align posture. Hip openers such as Bound Angle Pose and Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend should be a key focus because of the flexibility needed for delivery. Stretches on the back such as Reclining Bound Angle Pose are good. ***Avoid any intense abdominal work such as Boat Pose because this pose also puts pressure on the abdominal cavity.
***Poses to Avoid
You should avoid most inversions because you don’t want to encourage circulation away from the uterus. And because of the low blood pressure inversions can cause dizziness. The one exception, however, is Downward-Facing Dog… which is fine for short periods of time. Because of the physical demands during the first trimester avoid high-energy sequences such as an intense vinyasa series and Sun Salutations with jump-backs. Avoid most back-bends because these stretch the abdominal muscles too much. Bridge pose is the exception and can be practiced for short periods. Savasana should be practiced while lying on the side. Placing a pillow between the knees will make you more comfortable.
pregnancy yoga modifications- shavasana modified
Blessing to you and your baby. With hope that the practice of yoga will further enrich and assist you during this miraculas time. xoxox, L