The first trimester:
Most standing asanas can be done during the first trimester, including balancing poses. Remove revolving variations; a general rule-of-thumb, any variation beginning with Parivrtta.
Seated hip-openers are idea; however approach with caution due to the hormone relaxin. Relaxin will help soften joints in preparation for delivery; however joints can be dislocated if stretched too far.
Avoid excessive abdominal work and over stretching the abdomen such as with backward bends.
Pay close attention to inversions because: increased sensations of dizziness and reversal of blood flow away from the uterus.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) is fine unless you are overly dizzy, or feel as though you are over exerting yourself.
Although Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) is an inversion, while other inversions should be avoided, Downward Dog has the benefits of allowing the pelvis floor muscles to rest. During pregnancy the pelvic floor must support the weight of the enlarged uterus, the weight of the baby and the organs of the lesser pelvis. While practicing Downward Dog the pelvic floor has the opportunity to release tension from the added strain of pregnancy. In addition when releasing from the asana the baby can actually adjust into a better position in the pelvis. While practicing Downward Dog, duration of the pose should be decreased.
Refrain from Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) if:
You have hypertension, high blood pressure, or preeclampsia (high blood pressure and a large amount of protein in the urine)
In the second trimester you develop polyhydramnios (excessive amniotic fluid)
During the third trimester, if there are fetal positioning complications, if doing Downward Facing Dog corrects the baby’s position in the head down position, then refrain Downward Facing Dog
If Downward Facing Dog results in heartburn or any other uncomfortable condition
The second trimester:
Usually in the second trimester, after the body has had time to adjust, students return to their modified, but regular physical activity. Although some Yoginis would like to return to their normal, vigorous practice; perhaps a change of mindset can assist is creating a practice that is gentler and calming.
“In a healthy pregnancy, the blood pressure is lowered by hormones to accommodate the extra fluids that supply the placenta. This low pressure can cause dizziness, headaches, and mild swelling in the hands and feet. Combined with extra weight gain (10 to 15 pounds during this trimester), this slowed circulation is the cause of varicose veins and cramping in the legs.”
Standing and balancing asanas are ideal for strengthening legs and increasing circulation to reduce swelling in the lower body. If you feel unbalanced or if you feel that the legs or thighs are unable to support you, use of a chair or the wall, if either are available. Use of a chair to support the thighs will allow the hips to open while assisting in the weight baring of the body, thus taking pressure off the muscles of the pelvic floor. In the second trimester extra weight of new breast tissues can strain muscles of the upper back, chest and shoulders. Incorporating chest opening asanas will add in alleviating discomfort of the upper body.
The second trimester, supine asanas:
If you will be incorporating any supine asanas during your second trimester, adjust the asanas to be adhimukta (inclined) by raising the upper body past 20 degrees. Supine asanas which increase circulation in the lower extremities, open hips, and ease back tension can be done safely with the use of blocks, bolsters and blankets.
A few asana examples, safely practiced at a 20 degree incline:
The second trimester, Pranayama:
During the second trimester, if you are not already incorporating pranayama exercises into your regular practice, begin incorporating them to aid the body in relaxation and to aid during delivery. Void breath retention or breath in which the flow of pranayama or Steer clear of any pranayama that involves retention or the breath that changed the flow of air. Both retention and breath alteration will impact the delivery of oxygen to the fetus.
PrA few Pranayama examples supportive of pregnancy:
A few Pranayama examples that should be avoided during:
The second trimester, things to avoid:
In the second trimester the muscles and ligaments of the abdomen are stretched. Asanas the involve “more focused” abdominal exertion should be avoid to prevent the abdominals from separating or tearing.
A few asana examples that should be avoided during:
The third trimester:
By the third trimester you should be acutely aware of poses that can be modified and ones that should be avoided altogether. As you increase your asana knowledge with poses that can be safely practiced during your pregnancy you will be able to and have the confidence to participate in other Yoga classes verses feeling limited to Prenatal only classes.
On average in the last trimester the body will have an additional 20 to 30 pounds; a combination of the actual baby, about 25%, and gestational tissues. In addition to the visual changes of a woman’s body, internally the body encounters bouts of heartburn, increased urination, back pain, abdominal cramping, difficulty sleeping, mobility issues, dizziness, and swelling of the extremities.
The major concerns during the third trimester is protecting the joints from over strain and adjusting for balance. Although some advanced asanas should be avoided that does not mean a Yoga practice can not be challenging.
Advanced and challenging are two different words that are often used synonymous and interchanged when more often they are distinctly different and subjective. For example, a student who can access Eka Pada Koundinyasana I, an advanced arm balance, with ease may find that although the asana is advanced they may find it much less challenging than sitting for a long duration of time in Padmasana (Full Lotus).
A few asana examples for the third trimester:
Standing and balancing poses will build strength in the legs and assist with fluid retention, hip openers are important from alleviating lumber discomfort and creating space around the pelvis and pelvic tilts aid with toning the pelvic floor.
Marjaryasana (Cat Pose) can help shift the baby lower in the uterus and may even encourage proper positioning (head down, face to the back).