Whether you have never practiced yoga a day in your life, or you are a dedicated daily yogi, this post is for you! You both have something wonderful in common. You’re newly pregnant and creating a beautiful life inside of your miraculous being. Yoga is a great exercise during pregnancy (when modified for safety) as it relieves stress, aches and pains, connects you to your baby inside, and allows you to discover a new strength and power from within. Check out our post about the benefits of prenatal yoga here.
Before practicing any type of exercise, it is always important to consult with your doctor to ensure that it is safe for both you and your growing baby. There are many things to consider before starting or continuing your yoga practice during the first trimester. How do you feel? What is your goal with the practice? Is this your first pregnancy? How is your pregnancy going in the eyes of your doctor? You and your doctor know your body and your situation best so it is important to take a little bit of time to evaluate what kind of yoga and how much is best for you during this vulnerably delicate time. If it is deemed safe, yoga is a great exercise to pick up if you have never practiced a day in your life during your pregnancy. It is also something that experienced and dedicated yogis should continue to practice throughout their pregnancy, especially if yoga alleviates stress and anxiety in your day to day life.
If you are an experienced yogi, should you continue to practice your typical sequences and go to the studio that you have been a member of pre-pregnancy? If you are a beginner, should you get a membership at any yoga studio? This post will educate you in determining the answer to that question.
During the first three months of pregnancy it may not seem like your body is doing a lot because not much changes on the outside. But in fact, the truth is that your body is doing a lot of important and often times, taxing work to create an optimal environment for your baby to grow in. Your hormones are drastically changing (particularly progesterone and estrogen). Your blood volume increases significantly and your blood pressure decreases so your heart can safely pump the extra fluid from the increased blood volume. Your muscle tissues relax and your joints become loose from the hormone relaxin to allow your uterus to stretch. All of this internal physical activity can leave a woman feeling completely exhausted during her first trimester even though not much is to be seen on the outside.
Because the fetus is implanting and the placenta is being built during the first trimester, it is important to err on the side of caution because the risk for miscarriage is highest during this time. A gentler yoga practice such as a restorative class or a gentle flow is recommended. It is not recommended that you do an intense sequence such as a high energy vinyasa flow with jump backs.
At the CAP Wellness Center, we offer prenatal yoga exclusively. We believe that practicing yoga under certified instructors who understand the anatomy and physiology of a pregnant woman is the safest way to practice. They understand what is safe and what isn’t and will guide you in a blissfully safe and relaxing practice.
Here are some general guidelines to practicing safe yoga during your first trimester.
Yummy and safe poses for you:
- Basic standing poses are great during the first trimester such as the warrior poses, crescent lunge, and side angle pose.
- Standing balancing poses are also safe during the first trimester. Because your blood pressure is low, it is easy to feel dizzy or light headed during this time. When practicing a standing balancing pose, do it near a wall or have some kind of prop nearby to lean on if necessary. Great examples of standing balancing poses are tree pose and eagle pose.
- Open seated twists are safe and typically feel great during the first trimester as they relieve back pain and pressure as well as any cramping.
- Hip openers (seated and standing) are wonderful because they create the space and flexibility needed for labor.
- Gentle abdominal poses such as cat-cow, opposite arm and leg extension, modified side plank, and full or modified plank can be OK during your first trimester. Follow the lead of your prenatal instructor, as well as the guidance from your doctor and your own intuition when it comes to any abdominal poses during your first trimester.
- Back stretches are OK so long as they are not deep back bends
Poses to avoid during your first trimester:
- Standing twists should be avoided because of the pressure they put on the abdominal cavity.
- Do not over stretch in any pose because your joints are so loose and it is easy to dislocate them during this fragile time.
- Avoid intense abdominal work (like boat pose) because of the pressure that is put on the abdominal cavity and potentially the uterus.
- Avoid back bends because they stretch the abdomen too much.
- Avoid inversions because of your low blood pressure as well as the fact that the blood will rush away from your uterus. Down dog is OK for shorter periods of time.
- During savasana lay on your left side to avoid pressure on the vena cava vein which is responsible for moving blood from the lower part of the body (uterus) to the heart.
These are just some general guidelines to adhere to when practicing yoga during your first trimester. Because this is such a delicate time during your pregnancy, invest time to care for yourself in a thoughtful way so that you can protect your little one and have the most joyous pregnancy and birth!
Because there are so many modifications recommended during your first, second and third trimesters, it is a really good idea to practice under a certified prenatal yoga instructor. Search prenatal yoga in your area or join the CAP Wellness Center for $39.00 unlimited classes during your first month and $89.00 auto-pay each month thereafter.
Whatever happens, yoga will enable you to approach the experience from a position of inner power.