Yoga is a wonderful way to relax and strengthen the body during pregnancy. It’s also great for the mind as it keeps you focused and calm. However, it should be approached with wisdom. An expectant mom’s physical needs change with the trimesters and the same goes for yoga. What works for the first trimester perhaps should be avoided in the second or the third. This is because your body undergoes constant changes and they must be addressed safely. Your growing body will also prevent you from doing certain poses. In part two of our prenatal yoga series, we explore some of the yoga poses you can do in the first trimester. As with any type of exercise, do consult your physician before proceeding with them.
Yoga instructors are on both sides of the fence when it comes to practicing yoga in the first trimester. What’s important is how you feel during this time. Listen to your body so that you know when to take it easy and when to amp it up a little. Most expectant moms join a prenatal yoga class. If that’s not possible, these yoga poses can help you get fit and feeling good.
The triangle pose is a wonderful way to get the blood going throughout the body. It’s the ideal counter to the fatigue that often sets in in the first trimester. It also works the hips and legs, opens the shoulders and helps maintains balance. If you can’t extend your body to touch your ankle or the floor, use the wall for support. If this is too easy, you can also place a block beneath your hand. This allows for a deeper stretch that doesn’t require you to extend all the way.
The bound angle pose can keep you centered and grounded, which is perfect when you’re feeling a little overwhelmed. It also stretches the hips and the groin and helps you get used to the sensation of opening these areas. Use a blanket to make the surface you sit on more comfortable. Avoid using force when you move your knees and do it in a relaxed manner. Keep your spine straight and don’t bend forward on your belly.
Cat pose offers a gentle stretch to the back. It also improves the flexibility of the shoulders and spine. It tones the abs and releases the muscles of the lower back. Cow pose also works the back but it opens the chest as well. It rejuvenates the body and improves mood. When doing the cat-cow pose, be careful not to exert yourself. Do it until you feel a pleasant stretch along your shoulders and spine. Hold the pose for about 5-10 seconds before returning to the start position.
Pregnancy in the later stages can throw your posture off. The tree pose helps reinforce proper posture and strengthens the feet, legs, and hips. It teaches physical balance, eases back pain and sciatica. It also stabilizes the mind and keeps you controlled and focused. The pose is safe to practice as is but if you have trouble balancing yourself, place the sole of your foot against your ankle. Once you become more confident, you can progress to placing your foot against the inner thigh. You can also use a wall for support.
The eagle pose is another standing pose that improves balance. It enhances coordination, tones the muscles of the legs and the joints and improves breathing capacity. If you’ve never done a balancing pose before, you may find it a little tricky. However, you can start by doing it against a wall for support. Once you get the hang of it, you can perform it in its entirety. The eagle pose can also be modified for later stages in your pregnancy. You sit in a kneeling position instead of stand and place folded blankets beneath the shins and feet for comfort.
Prenatal yoga has plenty to offer moms-to-be. There are many poses to choose from and nearly all can be modified to suit your capability and the stage of pregnancy. These low-impact poses can be practiced by beginners and experienced practitioners alike. In part three and four of our yoga series, we’ll cover poses for the second and third trimesters. Remember to complement yoga with healthy prenatal habits such as drinking plenty of water, eating iron-rich healthy and getting enough sleep. Use a mattress designed to reduce back pain and increase overall comfort. Wear comfortable shoes, make time for spending time with loved ones and don’t hesitate to pamper yourself!