19 Sep Pregnancy Yoga: How Pregnancy Changes your Yoga Practice
Here’s how pregnancy has changed my yoga practice from Weeks 1-25 now I am nearing the end of my second trimester…
First Trimster (Weeks 5-15)
During my first trimester I did not need to adjust my yoga practice too far from my normal routine. I avoided laying on my belly and I also dropped any chataranga’s. This was mainly because I knew during the first few weeks the baby is implanting into the wall of the uterus and so didn’t want to do any damage. Instead, I went onto my knees and back into Child’s Pose before lifting into Downward Facing Dog again.
Another thing I found was that I was incredibly tired so tended to opt for a less energetic style of yoga rather than anything strenuous like Ashtanga. I was lucky enough to not experience any sickness during my first trimseter, just a feeling of what can only be described as ‘bleh’.
Overall, I enjoyed keeping my practise consistent and tried to keep up the same level of flexibility I had pre-pregnancy in forward bends, Triangle pose and seated postures.
The Start of the Second Trimester (Weeks 16-20)
The first few weeks of my second trimester (weeks 16-19) seemed to be easy peasy. In fact, it was so smooth that I began to wonder if I was still actually pregnant! I even had an extra midwife appointment to hear the babies heart beat just to make sure there was still a baby in there! My bump hadn’t grown much so I was still able to maintain my normal yoga practise. I found it all very easy. I enjoyed making my stances a little wider, particularly lunges with the back knee down, as it felt nice to give baby a little more room and not be squished.
At 20 weeks I really started to feel pregnant. I felt very squashed like baby had stolen all the room in my tummy. Rather than growing into an expanding belly, he was just growing bigger and taking up all my space! This meant that a lot of my practises around this week was based on opening up my front body. I loved Camel pose and Cresent Lunge with the knee down as they allowed me to open up and create more space. As a counter balance to these, I enjoyed doing a wide knee squat and folding forward to have lots of room for my bump and also to stretch out through the back.
The End of the Second Trimester (Weeks 20-25)
I feel this is where my practice really began to change. I started to develop a bigger bump but along with this, I also developed lower back pain. I’ve never suffered from back pain before and if I did I would do a few twists and either forward or backward bends depending on what my body needed and it would be sorted. However, due to my growing baby and bump, quite a lot of strain is going into my lower back and causing pain. This means that the majority of my yoga practises consist of poses purely to stretch out and ease my back pain. What I think I find challenging is that poses I know my body really needs to do to ease the pain including deep forward bends and strong closed twists, I just cannot do. This is either because I physically can’t fit into those poses or it is not safe to do them. So I am stuck with gentle poses that feel good but aren’t really hitting the sweet spot of relieving pain fully.
Currently I am doing a short practise twice a day that involves a lot of wide legged forward bends, cat/cow and seated side bends. It feels so glorious when I do them and I feel like I’m living from one yoga practice to the next.
I love how my practice has evolved so far from just a general practice to open up my body or to energise me, into a practice with more purpose. I am now moving for two and making us both feel comfortable is a priority. I like to take my practice slow and really enjoy following my breath and focusing on how it feels in my body. If I feel a little kick during my practice it is a bonus as I know my little man is awake and flowing with me.
The Third Trimester…
So we will see what the third trimester brings to my practice! Overall, I am pretty pleased with how much I have maintained my yoga practise so far throughout my pregnancy and hope to continue through the next 16 weeks.
No matter how I feel or how my body evolves, grows and changes, I know that there will be a yoga practise suited to me. Now more than ever, I know that it is important to listen to my body and let go of any ego that may be clinging on for dear life. It is hard to let go of progress and flexibility you once had and the fear that poses I worked on for so long will become a long distant memory, but just as the world is constantly evolving and changing, so must we. I know that whatever my body needs now, is what is right for me at this time and who knows where my practice will take me in the future…