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Being pregnant is hard (or so I’ve heard/seen on TV). Over the past few years, I’ve had quite a few women who were pregnant in my yoga classes. Through conversation with these amazing women, they have noted how huge yoga was for them, both physically and mentally as they prepared for their delivery and new life with their baby. Yoga and pregnancy can look very differently all based on the individual who is pregnant, what their doctor has to say, and where they are in their pregnancy. Overall, yoga is a great tool to use as women (and their partners) navigate through their pregnancy!
Word of Caution
As always, please use your own judgement to fit your practice to your own needs, never forcing yourself into poses, classes, or mindsets. It is also CRUCIAL to make sure you clear your yoga practice with your doctor, as each pregnancy differs. Even if you have done yoga in a past pregnancy or know someone who has, get the clearance from your current OBGYN to make sure your yogi practice is safe for you and your baby.
Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
1) Create a Community of Moms-To-Be – Seek out a specific yoga class for future moms to create a social network of ladies who are going through exactly what you are! And just think, after the baby is born you can switch off every other week between yoga classes and wine nights!
2) Increase Connectedness with Baby – Yoga is all about turning your gaze inward, focusing your attention on the breath and each moment. With this inward focus, you may feel more connected with your own body, and with that you may also feel connected with the baby!
3) Improves Sleep Quality – Yoga activates our parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for rest and relaxation. Through activation of this system we are able to sleep better, longer, and deeper – things that are all crucial for future mommies as they have many sleepless nights ahead of them.
4) Prepare Yourself for Labor – Through yoga, you are better aquainted with how strong your body and breath are, giving you a better understanding as to what your body is truly capable of. In addition, in yoga we discuss how everything is temporary, yogis typically have a better delivery experience when it comes to labor.
5) Helps Improve Balance – It’s no surprise that women’s bodies go through a lot of changes throughout their pregnancy, many of which alter balance. Through strengthening and lengthening many major muscle groups in yoga class, the body is better able to find an equilibrium and balance in various postures.
First Trimester (Months 1-3)
About Yoga in the First Trimester: Yoga in the first trimester may be challenging as the soon-to-be mother may not feel like she has any limitations regarding her yoga practice. While in this trimester, physical changes may not be evident, but it is important to begin to tone down yoga practices. Instead of doing high energy sequences, inversions, twists, and backbends, relaxation and modifications should instead be utilized.
Poses to Try:
– Marichi’s Pose (Marichyasana)
– Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend Pose (Upavistha Konasana)
– Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) – for short periods of time
Poses to Avoid:
– High energy sequences (jumping from Downward Dog Pose to Plank Pose)
– Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)
– Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)
About Yoga in the Second Trimester: Yoga in the second trimester is when the pregnancy starts to “get real” for most mothers. Their bellies start to grow, the ligaments begin to stretch, and the joints loosen. The goal within this trimester is to relieve any discomfort and stress that the pregnancy has been placing on the body. Various poses such as hip and chest openers may be especially helpful as these pregnant women experience physical changes.
Poses to Try:
– Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
– Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
– Reclining Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)
Poses to Avoid:
– Poses with the yogi holding their breath and leg lifts
– Feathered Peacock Pose (Pincha Mayurasana)
– Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana)
Third Trimester (Months 7-9)
About Yoga in the Third Trimester: WOOHOO! Final trimester; home stretch!! Yoga in this trimester may be very uncomfortable for moms, as their bellies limit their movement, strain their backs, and even impact their body systems (breathing, digestive, and circulatory). This trimester is about facilitating a sense of openness, both physically and mentally as the soon-to-be mothers prepare for their delivery and their new life with their child!
Poses to Try:
– Tree Pose (Vrksasana) – May be modified by using a nearby chair to help keep balance.
– Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
– Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)
Poses to Avoid:
– Inversions and Backbends
– Plow Pose (Halasana)
– Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
Based on the above information, it is evident that yoga can benefit both mommies-to-be and their babies! From gaining a social support system, developing a connection with your baby, preparing yourself for labor, and helping improve your sleep, yoga may be able to help you throughout each of your trimesters. In today’s society we are all concerned about how to live more mindfully, be in the moment, and savor each second. Through practicing yoga, many mothers report enjoying the experience of being pregnant. By practicing mindfulness, moving the body and breath together, and cultivating a new mindset all through yoga, the mind, body, and spirit are brought together.
What do you all think about using yoga to stay active throughout your pregnancy? Did you use it for your own pregnancy? Do you have any advice for expectant yogi moms? Are there any specific classes to look out for or avoid in your pregnancy? I can’t wait to hear about your experiences with yoga and pregnancy, please share!!
Thanks so much for your comments and responses, I love being able to hear your stories!
Thanks so much for reading, I hope this post helps you to make decisions of your own about yoga and pregnancy.
Occupational Therapy student Mandy Fabry always had a passion for yoga. Trading in her traditional role as a student to begin her journey as an instructor and blogger. She projects an air on lightness and celebrates each body, breath, and movement. Her background not only nourishes the physical body, but restores the soul as well. Appreciating the body as a whole is Mandy’s main focus, and will bring awareness and balance to all aspects of your life. She is excited to take this next step with you, and hopes that the benefits and lifestyle of yoga can be accessed by all.