There is no reason to give up exercise now that you are pregnant. If you haven’t been exercising and would like to start an exercise program in your first trimester, yoga is the perfect exercise for beginners, especially those who are pregnant.
Yoga involves engaging in several different postures that are designed to increase flexibility, balance, and muscle strength. It is generally a very relaxing form of exercise because the poses are done relatively slowly and carefully; the poses are tied to the breathing pattern and there is an element of meditation during yoga that helps increase wellbeing, reduce anxiety and stress, and support overall wellness.
There are many different types of yoga. Some are more physically challenging than others are which are not suitable during pregnancy, such as “hot yoga” or Bikram yoga because it involves doing yoga in a superheated room and is more physically demanding than other forms of yoga.
If you cannot find a special prenatal yoga class, consider something like Hatha yoga, which is very relaxing and not as physically demanding as other forms. It is also ideal for beginners. Make sure the instructor of the class knows that you are pregnant beforehand so he or she can help you adjust your poses accordingly.
Of course, it is better to find a specialty class created for pregnant moms, as it is very important to learn how to do the poses correctly and not overstrain the body. Additionally, it is crucial to check with your obstetrician before starting any exercise program.
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Yoga For Morning Sickness
During the first trimester, morning sickness that often lasts beyond the morning hours can occur during pregnancy. Fatigue is another common condition seen in the first trimester that can often be debilitating. Yoga can help and there are specific poses that are especially effective for nausea and heartburn.
Best Poses For Morning Sickness
- Modified Reclining Hero: This is a great pose that supports relaxation and alleviates nausea.
- Child’s Pose: The child’s pose helps to ease morning sickness, alleviates stress, and also supports relaxation.
- Inverted Pose: The inverted pose, or viparita karani helps alleviate nausea, it is also very low impact. It involves lying on your back with your legs up a wall while lifting the tailbone off the floor and using pillows under the buttocks for support. Maintain this pose for 8 minutes or so, and repeat as needed.
- Downward-Facing Cross-Legged Pose
- Bound Angle Pose
- Reclining Hero Pose
First Trimester Yoga
Yoga has the potential to reduce the nausea so common in the first trimester because it helps you relax and stay focused. Relax and listen to your body as you perform the poses and focus on breathing as you get into your poses. As mentioned, any kind of hot yoga is not recommended, particularly during the first trimester.
There are some postures you need to avoid during pregnancy. These include any deep twisting exercises, especially the prayer twist, seated twist, or crescent lunge. The plank or forearm plank poses are acceptable but avoid any other poses that focus on core strength. Any exercise involving having you prone (stomach down) are acceptable in the first trimester but it may not feel comfortable by the time you reach your twelfth week and the uterus has managed to rise above the level of the pubic bone.
Best Yoga Poses During The First Trimester
These will generally bring feelings of wellness while in the first trimester.
- Downward Facing Dog
- Child’s Pose
- Tree Pose
Poses For Aches And Proper Posture
- Open Seated Twists
- Marichyasana I (Marichi’s Pose)
Hip Opener Poses That Increase Flexibility
These poses support flexibility that is needed for labor and delivery. You will find that you are more flexible during pregnancy. This is because your body is producing a hormone called relaxin that loosens the tension on your muscles and joints. While this increases your flexibility, you should avoid pushing your newly found flexibility too far.
- Bound Angle pose
- Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
Back Stretching Poses
- Reclining Bound Angle Pose
- Reclining Big Toe Pose
Second Trimester Yoga
During the second trimester, yoga is still possible; however, you will still want to avoid twisting poses, stomach-down poses and any poses that focus on the
core. You may need to modify your poses so that you can do them safely and comfortably.
For example, in the prayer twist pose and the revolved crescent lunge, it is a good idea to keep the torso lifted up so that it is perpendicular to the yoga mat. Try opening your arms so that you are in more of a vertical twist.
During spine strengthening exercises, you can extend your right arm forward, while at the same time, letting your left leg go straight back. After holding this position for several breaths, you can switch and extend your left arm and right leg at the same time.
Increasing Circulation and Strength Building
These poses help swollen feet by increasing blood circulation to them and also help to strengthen the leg muscles to help carry a growing belly. Modified versions use a chair or a wall to help with balance.
- Extend Triangle Pose
- Chair Pose
- Tree Pose
- Half Moon Pose
- Extended Side Angle Pose
- Warrior I, II, and III Poses
Hip and Chest Opener to Release Tension
- Cow Face Pose
- Reverse Prayer Pose
Third Trimester Yoga
In the third trimester, you may begin to tire out more easily as your belly enlarges. Even so, there are several poses you can do that will increase flexibility, balance, and sense of wellbeing. Yoga can help you get ready for labor by improving strength and flexibility.
Poses you will be able to do during your third trimester are:
- Seated Bound Angle Pose
- Standing Wide-Legged Forward Fold
- Seated Wide-Legged Forward Fold
- Downward Facing Dog
- Legs Up a Wall
These increase the stretch in your inner thigh and groin muscles, helping them relax and become more prepared for labor. The downward facing dog is still a good exercise during the third trimester as well as the legs up the wall pose.
The legs up a wall pose can help reduce lower extremity edema because it allows gravity to take the fluid out of the ankles.
Particularly during the third trimester, you need to be careful when lying directly on your back. When you lie on your back, you can decrease the venous return by compressing the vena cava with your uterus. This can cause fainting and, if you cannot lie on your back without feeling faint, put a pillow under your right side so that you are slightly tilted to your left, which takes the pressure off the abdominal vessels (that lie slightly to the right of the spine).
Other Helpful Poses
There are other great yoga poses that can help alleviate the common issues women experience during pregnancy. The prenatal state in general causes great changes to the body while a mommy’s body works hard to develop a new life. So many changes can occur, and it’s important to stay on top of these changes and to feel your best throughout the whole nine months. Don’t let common maladies keep you down, use yoga to feel your best so you can enjoy this wonderful time in your life.
Supported Bound Ankle Pose: The supported bound ankle pose helps with the shortness of breath that results from increased progesterone hormone levels that occur in the first trimester, or the booming growth of the
baby in the third trimester.
Sideways Swing: The sideways swing is an easy to do pose that helps to improve digestion and also tones the side muscles of the abdomen.
Dog and Cat Poses: These poses help the body better manage the hormonal changes that can occur during the second trimester.
Seated Ankle-to-Knee Pose: This pose is ideal to help reduce hip pain that often comes in the later months of pregnancy.
Mental and Emotional Wellness
Many changes occur in the body during pregnancy, but major changes also occur in the mental and emotional state of the pregnant woman. Hormonal changes in the body can lead to major shifts in mood and sometimes an emotional rollercoaster ride.
Being pregnant, especially the first time can cause major anxiety and stress as one worries about the baby’s health, labor pain and all the changes taking place in the family as a result of a new arrival. First time moms can be plagued with worry about weight gain, miscarriage and even about their ability to be a good mother.
All these worries result in undue stress and anxiety that can impact the health of the baby and the mother. Yoga is a mind body exercise that combines physical movement with breathing and mindfulness. This means that it has the unique ability to calm the mind, and turbulent emotions and to shut out all the loud noises of the world. This helps with stress and anxiety and the impact it can have on the health of the mom and the baby.
The slow breathing aligned to the poses in yoga allows for emotional and mental calm, and the meditative state that is created through the practice helps one to completely relax, which means stress and anxiety are diminishes. Furthermore, with regular practice of yoga, this state of calm carries over after a particular session of yoga is over, and promotes wellbeing of the mind and emotions and improved stress control on a daily basis.
Staying active during pregnancy is important as it supports physical health and can make the actual delivery easier. Yoga is a safe, low impact choice of exercise, and as you can see, there are many great benefits to doing yoga during pregnancy.
Besides the physical benefits, yoga also helps reduce stress, supports relaxation, and overall wellness that serve both mommy and baby through the journey of pregnancy and birth.
Remember that when you are well and healthy, your baby is too! Stay well and take care!