Building a consistent, safe practice for your pregnancy will help keep your body strong, flexible and balanced. In addition, the practice should also be nurturing and nourishing to your emotional well-being providing you a calm, relaxed mind to instill a sense of peace and gratitude for your body, mind, spirit and the one you will carry for nine months.
Begin and end your asana practice with relaxation to assist clearing your mind and centering yourself for your practice. As your pregnancy progresses try to extend your time in relaxation poses. Whether you have thirty minutes or two hours of time for your practice. If you have less than thirty minutes for asana practice, instead perhaps use the oppourtunity to strengthen your Pranayama/Meditation practice.
If you have less than thirty minutes for asana practice, instead perhaps use the oppourtunity to strengthen your Pranayama/Meditation practice.
If you are new to Yoga, provide extra attention to your breath and movement; connecting your movements with your inhales and exhales. Generally, inhaling on expansive asanas and lifting positions and exhaling on contracting, folded positions. If you are an experienced practitioner, simply just keep flowing. :)
Remember to open your stance verses having feet together in both standing asanas and in seated forward bends. Practice open twists instead of closed twists. Twisting from the shoulders and upper back verses through the entire torso, twisting away from the body verses towards the body. Standing Spinal Twist is an excellent variation as it does not strain the abdomen. Tree Pose is another standing asana that will assist in open the hips, strengthening the legs and increasing balance.
Void Pranayama practices such as Kapalbhati (Skull Shining), Bhastrika (Bellows Breath), Uddyana Bandha (Full Abdominal Lock), and Nauli (Abdominal Churning).
If participating in abdominal work, try Pregnancy Sit-ups - feet flat, knees bend, torso on the floor, with hands genitally interlaced supporting the head, alternate elbow to opposite knee, this will help keep the abdominal muscles strong without strain. Also Alternating Leg Raises versus Double Leg Raises which can over strain the abdomen.
Substitute floor series such as Locus or Seal Pose with Cat-Cow and other spinal balances from all fours, hands and knees.
If you have Headstand, Shoulder Stand, or Plough in your practice continue to include these asanas. If needed alter Headstand with Half Head Stand, the preparatory steps into Headstand and remember to rest in Child's Pose upon exiting Headstand. Plough can be adjusted with use of a stable, immobile chair for feet to rest on verses feet to floor over head. Shoulder Stand can be simply Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose, extremely relaxing and restorative. After Plough-Shoulder Stand, counter stretch with Fish Pose. Move into Fish Pose from the floor verses approaching Fish from a Full Shoulder Stand as in can over strain the abdomen.
The Headstand and Shoulder stand are invaluable during pregnancy as they rest the lower back, the veins and muscles of the legs, and the mucsles of the abdomen. They also help to ensure that the womb reverts to the proper position after birth.
Mula Bandha or Mulabandhasana is not only important for your regular asana practice, but also extremely valuable for your nine months of Prenatal and your following Postnatal Yoga practice. Mula Bandha, the engagement of the perineal muscles. Perineal exercises, or kegels in contemporary terms, are important to strengthen vaginal muscles assisting in child birth.
These exercises keep the pelvic, anal and vaginal muscles strong and healthy. Like good elastic, they will stretch fully for the birth and quickly return to normal, avoiding postnatal problems like a prolapse or a leaky bladder. They also help you to develop awareness and control of the muscles, so that you can actively help in an easier child birth.
Below are examples of asanas and which trimester each is suitable for. If is a good starting place for beginners who have not participated in asana practice before starting a prenatal program.
Pelvic Tilting Poses:
Can be preformed during all three trimesters; back-lying pelvic tilts, including Bridge Pose, should be limited to first trimester.
Safe for all trimesters:
Shoulder Stretching & Chest Opening Poses:
Will assist to maintain proper breathing throughout your pregnancy, especially in the second and third trimesters as the baby grows compressing the space available for breathing. Postnatal these exercises will assist the upper body when nursing and lifting the child.
Excellent way to build strength and flexibility as well as relieving muscle cramping and increasing circulation in the lower body.
Hip and Thigh Stretches:
Squatting Hip Stretches:
Squatting poses assist in opening the pubic symphysis, pubic bone junction, which can assist with labor. Inflammation of the sciatic nerve, sciatica, can occur due to the added weight of pregnancy causing the muscles of the back through the lumbar spine, hips and buttock to tighten. Hip stretches can assist in decreasing the tension. Remember to avoid over stretching this area of the body and long holds.
Hamstring, Calf & Inner Thigh Stretches:
Muscles of the lower back are over worked during pregnancy from the added weight of the uterus. Gradual hamstring stretches assist in releasing the lumbar back muscles.
Twisting asanas should be preformed with a lengthened spine for stability of the spine, shoulders, neck. During pregnancy the majority of the twist should derive from the neck, shoulders and cervical and thoracic vertebrae. The sacroiliac joint, sacrum and hip bone, if over stretched or forcibly stretched can cause pain on either side of the sacrum.
Safe for all stages of your pregnancy and excellent for postnatal Yoga.
A more focused practice of mula bandha [can be] a tool for toning and refining one's awareness of the lower pelvic muscles and organs. Mula bandha helps to develop a stronger and more flexible set of perineal muscles, more awareness of the lower pelvic organs and their surrounding support structure, greater ease in the delivery process, and a reduction in several physical risks that often naturally occur during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, including perineal tears (or reduced indication of episiotomy), urinary incontinence, and vaginal prolapse. Building on the basic mula bandha practice, women can develop more subtle awareness and control of all of the superficial muscles of the perineal floor and higher up into the layers of deep pelvic muscles that surround and give support to the bladder, vagina, and rectum. With this awareness, women can participate in the birthing process in a more conscious fashion."
Safe for all trimesters: