You’ve just been given the news that you’re pregnant, congratulations!  Being pregnant is one of the most special times in our lives, some of us handle pregnancy with ease and for others pregnancy can be a very testing time for bodies, minds and relationships.  Whether it’s a breeze or a challenge anxiety and assessment of our current life is all part and parcel of getting ready to welcome this new human into the world.  We look at our diets, work life, social life and of course our fitness regime.  And if you’re a Yogi, are you still able to practice Yoga safely without harming yourself or the baby?  Yes, as long as your health professional has given you the all clear, there no reason you can’t maintain your Yoga, but modifications need to be made with each stage of your pregnancy.

1st Trimester:

During early pregnancy and up to around 13 weeks, students are encouraged to take things easy as they adjust to changing hormones and energy during what can be an intense and delicate period of transformation.  The 1st Trimester is a time for getting more grounded, slowing down, focusing more on your internal self and creating a healthy environment for your growing bub.

Practice Guidelines:

  • Stay with gentle, even Pranayama.  Avoiding any pranayama that involves the pumping action of breath into the belly such as Kapalabhati. Connection with breath is especially helpful during times of anxiety and they will help you remain calm during the birthing process. 
  • Avoid jumping into or out of Asana as this can provide a jolting action to the body which is contraindicated in pregnancy.
  • Minimize deep abdominal twisting as this may cause pulling on the broad ligaments that attach to the Uterus.  Focus twists more to the upper Thoracic Spine.
  • As the foetus is very small it is still okay to lay on your belly for short periods of time, but avoid once you start to show
  • Focus on pelvic awareness and spinal alignment
  • Explore shoulder openers and strengtheners, also hip openers that stimulate circulation in the legs  

2nd Trimester:

Here hormone levels have mostly evened out and the pregnancy is generally well established.   So now is the time to focus on strength and stamina, to become more aware of the alignment of pelvis and spine and to build more internal support for the changes in balance as your belly grows.

Practice Guidelines:

  • Avoid deep abdominal asana, as it is important to create suppleness in this area. Here we need to avoid tightening the abdominal muscles to lessen the risk of perineal tears and urinary incontinence arising from downward pressure.
  • Use pelvic neutral  asana to cultivate alignment of the spine and pelvis.
  • Avoid lying on your belly unless the belly is supported and protected by bolsters and blankets
  • Practice standing Asana to help develop strength and opening of the pelvis and hips 
  • Explore seated hip openers and forward folds
  • Twisting only when you feel comfortable and the belly is open
  • In side lying poses lie on the left side to avoid placing pressure on the heart as the baby gets larger
  • With Savasana once again lying on your left side might be more comfortable 

3rd Trimester:

This is the time to focus on cultivating calm and reserving your energy. Relaxin Hormone levels are now high enough to cause softening of the ligaments which can cause weakness in joints, pelvis and hips.  The Sacroiliac Joint can become vulnerable at this time also, so go carefully and perhaps avoid going deep in some asana. 

Practice Guidelines:

  • Continue awareness of postural alignment
  • Use props to aid your practice and help avoid going too deep into poses
  • Avoid holding inversions for too long
  • Combine squatting, hip openers and calming pranayama in preparation for birth
  • Use props or side lye in Savasana to avoid putting pressure on the Vena Cava
  • Explore a gentler practice such as restorative or Yin Yoga, but perhaps only hold for 2 mins
  • Be aware of changes in Blood Pressure and modify practice where needed

After Delivery:

It is important to slowly build energy, redevelop muscle tone and strength and cultivate more endurance.  Abdominal exercises should be avoided for at least 6 weeks after birth and more if a caesarean has been performed.  There are still heightened levels of Relaxin in the body up to 2 months post birth, so students are encouraged to take an 80% attitude to deep holds and stretches.

Every woman is different as is every pregnancy, so listen to your body; worry less and trust more.  Our bodies are very intelligent, and they know more about what’s needed than any book or blog.  Intentions are important and your intention here should be to pull back a little and don’t go into a pose where you haven’t been before. Range of Motion is less important than your and the baby’s health so practice intelligently.  Always get the all clear from your Doctor and during class if something doesn’t feel right in your body, move away from the pose. Having a good teacher that is empathetic to pregnancy and the birthing process can also be very helpful.  In the early stages of pregnancy, your regular Yoga class will still be fine to practise following the above guidelines, however towards the end it might be advantageous to find a prenatal Yoga class.  Most importantly as soon as you find yourself pregnant, please have a quiet word to your teacher before class so they can offer you options.

Yoga can be your Super Power during pregnancy and it can help immensely in the process of birthing.  Yoga helps to prepare the body; keeping you fit, strong and healthy and Yoga can help you bring calm when things may get a little overwhelming.

We will be holding a 4 Week Pre Natal Pregnancy Course commencing Wednesday 8th of April from 7:15pm to 8:15pm.  The cost of this course is $80.00 and bookings are now open via Mindbody.

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