The benefits of yoga are globally hailed for their benefits for the mind and body. Whether you already practice or not, adopting a yoga routine while pregnant is wholly beneficial for you and your unborn baby. Prenatal yoga can keep you and shape and strengthen your body for birth, and the breathing and meditation components will help keep your stress levels low. As with any new workout routine, especially whilst pregnant, please consult your doctor before you start a yoga practice if you have never done so before.
Your first trimester will not see a lot of restrictions in terms of movement, so this is a great time to start. If you are already an avid yogi, this should not affect your routine. Starting at a local studio will be the best way to introduce yoga under the watchful eye of a skilled instructor. Many yoga studios offer Prenatal Yoga classes, which is a great place to get accustomed to some more pregnancy-friendly poses. More advanced yogis can consult YouTube videos for good routines to do at home – but attending a Prenatal Yoga specific class is highly recommended too, especially in later trimesters. It is also not recommended to practice hot or Bikram yoga during pregnancy.
The ujayi breath, the most essential aspect of yoga, will be the first thing taught to beginners. It is also the way all yoga classes start. Ujayi breathing helps warm the body up for movement while slowing the mind and heart. It is great for managing stress and can be done anytime in our outside of a yoga setting – and would especially come in handy come time for labor. Standing mountain while practicing your ujayi breath will warm up your arms and upper body for practice.
Within the second trimester, it’s very important to start listening to your body. This applies even to the most seasoned yoga pros. If you are in a pose you are accustomed to but something doesn’t feel quite right, simply exit the pose. Now is the time to avoid doing any poses that involve lying flat on your back – you can use a wedge or pillow to prop you up during these. Your growing belly may affect your balance. Now is not the time to attempt any new poses, especially handstands or headstands (there’s plenty of that after the baby is born).
Cat/cow sequence is a great way to stretch and strengthen your spine at this time. Now that you’re beginning to carry extra weight in your abdomen, strengthening your back is essential. Sitting in a supported squat or performing Bound Ankle Pose will open up your hips and stretch your leg muscles. Try to work up to performing a Full Lotus for the ultimate hip opening.
The third trimester is the most restrictive, but practice can still be done with some precaution. Balancing poses must be practiced with caution – against a wall or with a trained instructor spotting you. You will feel difficulty with most poses at this stage, but you can use props like straps and blocks to help you achieve them. Avoid any poses that involve stretching the abdominals. Do not get discouraged if you feel very restricted in your practice at this time. Just enjoy the process and the peaceful feelings that come with whatever you are able to achieve. Remember that practicing yoga during the third trimester of pregnancy is no easy feat, so you are making great progress for your health and your baby’s health in doing so.