Yoga at anytime in life is a wonderful and essential practice for wellness. Whether it be for children, the adult beginner, intermediate, or advanced seasoned Yogi. The physical, mental and spiritual benefits that come with regular yoga/meditation are numerous. I myself am a newly certified Yoga Instructor. I can attest to the life changing power of mindfulness coupled along with the poses of the body. Personally, I have recently began focusing on a new approach towards practicing and teaching yoga…Prenatal Yoga. Finding out that I am pregnant has obligated me to evolve my training. I would love to share what I am experiencing and learning thus far.
The first trimester can be filled with many different feelings. Surprise, happiness, fear or reluctance. Every woman is an individual and whatever emotions you experience when you discover you are pregnant are okay and perfectly natural. Doing yoga during this time can be very helpful for mental and emotional sentiments. The conscious breathing along with the asanas (poses) makes the mind steady. If you are considering starting yoga for the first time, the first three months of pregnancy are a great time to begin. Preparing your body and mind for the changes during the months ahead will do wonders for you and even for your baby!
Poses during your first trimester are still very doable and modifications are not quite needed yet for your growing belly. I have been able to still teach my intermediate and advance styles of Vinyasa. Listening to your body is important even when you aren’t pregnant so go at your own comfortable pace and never force any movements that you’re not used to doing regularly. Sun Salutations are good to do if you’re not feeling up to a full 45,60,75 or 90 minute yoga session. At least 10 minutes a day of any exercise is better than waiting until you have enough free time to do full sessions. Hip opening movements like Warrior 1 and 2 , Triangle, Side Angle and Bound Angle will prove to come in handy in all phases of pregnancy. Never too early to start the hip opener moves!
In the second trimester which is where I am now at 14 weeks is where the body really begins to change. More than just the morning sickness of the early months the weight gain starts to be felt and noticed (if not already) here in the fourth month. Keeping your routine of yoga and meditation is helpful here because it becomes easy to overeat and sleep. The baby is growing and depleting all your energy as well. Being mindful of yourself also helps to further gear up for labor and delivery. I now know that a lot of the time when I am feeling hungry and nauseous (even an hour after I just ate!) I am thirsty more than anything. Drink lots of water!
I’m feeling the extra pounds and when I do my yoga whether at home or in class, I still keep up with my normal routine. Although Chaturanga into Cobra pose can be done with more mind toward my belly now. Downward Dog is okay throughout the entire pregnancy journey. However, my breathing is becoming a bit heavy even when I am doing normal choirs. Deep Breathing from now till birthday is what I will be focusing on. Mindful breath actually takes away the feeling of shallow breathing. I worry before I begin to instruct that I will be huffing and puffing a tad bit too much but once I start to flow, inhale equal to exhale, movement with each breath, I become in control of my breathing. I make it through the 60 minutes of practice.
Third Trimester is what I am trying to prepare for. However handling each moment, day and week as it comes is what is important. I’ve been looking ahead and reading about prenatal yoga from my training manuals. Researching online is helping as well. In any trimester and especially now, don’t forget to eat a light snack one hour before and bring one snack with you if needed during a class. Pregnant women do have a higher rate of hyperglycemia during exercise. Focus on creating space for the baby in your movements. A wide stance is best so, as an Instructor, I would encourage legs spread and feet hips distance apart or more for supported ground while standing.
For a nice seated meditation I always stress the use of blocks, bolsters or blankets to sit on and for supporting the knees if necessary. Cat pose is a wonderful prenatal asana for a number of reasons. Being on all fours helps the baby get into optimal position and it releases pressure on the lower back. Engage the pelvis when making the spinal movements for cat. Downward Dog, Warrior 1 and 2 and Goddess Pose are all safe to do even late in pregnancy. Balancing poses like Half Moon and Tree Pose are great too when pregnant. Be sure and use a wall for support. Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee) is good with the extended leg slightly outward giving more space for the belly. Squatting with your back agaisnt the wall and block between the legs is helpful. Remember… don’t forget to breathe!
Prenatal Yoga is a wonderful addition to the experience of being pregnant. It not only helps your body to prepare for childbirth. It can also prepare your mind and spirit for all the stages of this perfectly natural time called pregnancy. I was a little anxious at finding out that I am pregnant again (Baby #2). I still am nervous because it has been 11 years since my first. Having yoga as a tool for me to use this time around is a godsend I would say now. Everything seems to come at the right times in life. I hope this article can help all who reads it. If you are a first-time mom or a mother of many. Even if you are a dad, friend, or relative that finds this information useful for a loved one. Yoga for all at any time in life is helpful. Yoga for pregnant women is amazing so give it a try!