Beginning a pre natal yoga practice or continuing with a modified practice is a great way to connect to your everchanging body and baby.
Rolling out your yoga mat is a wonderful low impact way to exercise and feel good in your pregnant body. While your practice may be a little slower there are still so many poses to enjoy on the mat that will help to relieve aches and pains associated with pregnancy as you make space for your body and baby and calm and clear your mind.
Here is a quick guide to modifying your yoga practice for the safety of you and your baby. As a general rule:
This is a time to practice with mindfulness – no forcing or straining, be gentle with your body and your baby
Stay within your comfort zone
Trust your body & listen to your body – it will tell you if a posture or movement feels ok, modify as need be
If you are not sure always be on the side of caution
It is normal to feel fatigue – rest is essential in the preparation of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. Drop into child’s pose whenever you need it and know it is ok to come out of a posture early and stay hydrated during practice
Breathwork - adopt a full body breath, no ujjayi breath and do not hold or restrict your breath at all
No postures on the belly especially after the first trimester as this could block blood flow to the uterus and placenta
no salabhasana (locust pose)
no dhanurasana (bow pose)
Avoid strong abdominal work – keep the frontal rectus abdominus muscles soft to allow space for your baby to grow and reduce diastasis recti (separation of abdominal muscles)
no navasana (boat pose). Instead be on all fours and inhale to fill the belly and as you exhale gently pull your belly to your spine. Short holds in full plank or modified plank (knees down) are ok
Avoid Deep Back Bends – they put too much strain on frontal abdominal tissues and can lead to tearing of the linea alba a condition called and diastasis recti (separation of abdominal muscles)
no deep Ustrasana (Camel pose), keep hands on lower back and lift from heart as opposed to dropping back
no Urdhva Dhanurasana (full wheel). Bridge Pose is fine.
gentle rotations are fine and can feel great on the spine. Be sure to rotate from the upper spine. The general rule is to keep your navel centre facing forward - modify with an open twist.
standing balances such as tree pose and king dancer are great, if wobbly - practice with your hand at a wall for stability.
If new to yoga this is not a time to learn advanced or inverted posture.
If you currently have a strong practice you can continue to practice inversions if they feel good but practice with the support of a wall for stability and confidence
Do not hold any inversion including Downward Facing Dog for more than a few breaths as you are encouraging the flow of blood to move away from the Uterus and your baby
Lying on your back
be guided by your own comfort. Some women feel great on their backs at 7 months, others no longer feel comfortable at 3 months. The inferior vena cava can be compressed and may cause dizziness. If it feels right, a few minutes is fine for practicing bridge pose or a short sivasana.
It is preferable to lie on the left hand side with a pillow in between the knees to stabilise the pelvis
squats are great for opening the pelvis and reducing pressure on the lower spine. They also promote elasticity of the perineum and vaginal tissue.
Squatting should be avoided if you have:
An incompetent cervix
Premature dilation of the cervix
Separated symphis pubis
Discomfort at any time (more likely towards end of 3rd trimester)