Like being pregnant does't have enough of its own anxiety, let's add the anxiety of what postures can I and can't I do in my yoga practice?! First, take a deep breath. Second, just listen to your body! We'll go through this journey together as we explore some common yoga postures and what a pregnant person can do to modify.
I'm in my second trimester and every time I step onto the mat it feels like a different practice. I've been practicing and teaching yoga for the past 10 years, so when I got pregnant I thought "Oh I got this. I know exactly what to do and my body will be in great shape. I'll be able to keep up a practice no problem" LOL!!!!! Some people are absolutely able to keep up with their yoga practice. And to those people I do a deep (or only as deep as my belly let's me go) bow to you. The biggest piece of advice I tell myself and my clients is LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! Accept where you are in the practice every time you step onto that mat. Okay so you used to be able to do a 90 min challenging Vinyasa Flow and now you feel challenged by one Sun Salutation. You are moving your body, breathing, mindfully. THAT IS ENOUGH. Give yourself credit for even planting the seed of movement and celebrate when you do!
So what do I mean about "Listen To Your Body"? It means take out all of the expectations. The "shoulds" or the "I used to be able" and just arrive on your mat and as you move notice how it feels in your body. Does it feel constricting? Can you breathe? Does it feel good? Does it make you upset? Happy? Do you notice baby moving?
If it doesn't feel good, if you can't breathe, if you feel constricted, if you notice any sharp pains - DO NOT DO IT. Plain and simple.
Okay, now let's go into some common postures you'll see in a yoga class that you may be like "Okay, so what can I do?"
Downward Facing Dog
Maybe you feel completely comfortable and confident in this posture! Maybe you feel this way for the first one or two and by the third or fourth you're like "okay - I need a change."
First - try separating your legs a little wider, more like mats distance apart to accommodate that beautiful pregnant belly of yours. And bend those knees! Bending the knees can bring more buoyancy to your lungs = fuller and deeper breath! Bent knees also takes any pressure off the arms and shoulders and puts more attention in your legs. Let the legs do the work in this pose so your upper body can open and breathe!
Perhaps even the wide legs and bent knees don't feel good. Okay! No problem!
Puppy Pose is a great way to get the same benefits of Down Dog without putting pressure on your arms and legs.
When in doubt - Childs Pose. Nice wide knee, maybe your forehead on a block!
Cobra and Upward Facing Dog
In early pregnancy you may feel comfortable lying on your belly. As your belly grows, lying on your belly may not be an option ;)
Cow Pose is a great modification to Cobra or Upward Facing Dog. It gives you the backbend, the opening in the chest, and also feels delicious.
Another lying on the belly posture that later in your pregnancy may not be an option.
Camel Pose gives you the same heart opening and back muscle work that bow pose offers, but is a much safer alternative for pregnant people.
Love your chatturanga's but don't know how to accommodate that belly? Put some blocks under your hands! It allows more space without compromising the power of the posture!
Some people may tell you ABSOLUTELY ZERO TWISTS. Deep belly twists are a no, but you can do a spinal twist! It may feel really great in your upper + lower back.
Some tips for twisting:
*Don't go deep. You don't need to wring out the towel, so to speak. A gentle spinal twist can give you all the same benefits and still feel amazing.
*Keep your belly soft. Imagine the navel and the space surrounding your navel point to be soft as you twist.
*Instead of twisting in or towards the mid line, think of twisting out! Twisting out still gives you a great stretch in your upper and lower back, can help with digestion, but can also open the chest, open the belly and give you an overall expansive feeling. Which is what we want! Take. Up. That. Space!
Standing + Sitting Forward Fold
Much like the downward facing dog, separating your legs wide and putting a bend to the knees while you fold over either sitting or standing can accommodate that baby belly, provide an opening, and feel extremely relaxing. For the standing forward fold, feel free to put some blocks under those hands! Bring the floor closer to you ;)
Savasana on your Back
Some folks feel comfortable lying on their backs and others do not. Some alternatives could be lying on your side (either side is fine!) with some blankets, pillows, or even a chair in between your legs to create relaxation and S P A C E. Want to lie on your back but lying flat on the floor isn't comfortable? Try putting some blocks behind your back, bolster, blanket. Still not cutting it? Maybe a legs up the wall? Or try sitting in a comfortable seat on the floor with a blanket under your tush or on a chair for a few moments of quiet rest.
These are just a few postures, but you may be able to see some common themes. S P A C E, open, soft belly, W I D E legs, bent knees, and of course listen to your body. Trust that the cues your body is giving you is the only guide you need.
Have questions about prenatal or postnatal yoga? Want to book a private or semi private session with one of our Doulas / Yoga Instructors? (We can come to you or have it all be on Zoom!)
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