This guided practice video is intended for experienced yoginis with a regular, established vinyasa flow practice. It was created with women in the first or second trimester, when range-of-motion is still fairly uninhibited, in mind. If you are in the third trimester, a beginner, or if you’re feeling very tired or sick, this practice may not be appropriate for you. See the previous post for more information about what type of yoga practice suits you best, or visit my YouTube channel for more guided practices.
*The following article assumes a healthy pregnancy. If you have had complications of any kind, consult your doctor before undertaking any form of exercise.
So you’re having a baby– congratulations! Now what? Your body is busy knitting together a new life, and you are experiencing a variety of changes, although most of these are not evident to anyone else. For most women, staying mindfully active throughout pregnancy enhances their experiences greatly. When approaching yoga in the first trimester, the most important considerations are to respect your body’s increased need to rest and to create the best possible environment for your tiny baby to take hold and grow.
Respect Your Body’s Need to Rest
It takes a tremendous amount of energy to grow another human being. But if you’re typically very active, it may take an even greater measure of humility and self-control to give yourself proper rest during pregnancy. Be especially attentive to how tired or nauseated you are, and whether certain activities or yoga postures make you feel better or worse. Be open to decreasing the amount and intensity of your activity according to what you observe. Know that coming out of postures early or taking breaks in child’s pose may be better for you than keeping up with a yoga class.
Your blood pressure is lower during the first trimester, so you may find that inversions like headstand and shoulderstand are not comfortable or make you dizzy. In this case, it’s best to forgo inversions. Inversions also direct blood away from the uterus, so the most conservative approach is to leave them out for the entirety of pregnancy.
Create the Best Possible Environment for Your Baby
From now until you give birth, you are your baby’s environment. The first trimester is when your baby is the smallest and the most vulnerable. Miscarriage is the most likely during this trimester, so if you had difficulty conceiving or are otherwise at a higher risk for miscarriage, you will want to be especially mindful about creating an environment conducive to nurturing this delicate little life.
In yoga we do this by avoiding compression to the abdominal cavity:
Intense core work and deep, closed twists like revolved side angle, revolved triangle, and half lord of the fishes should be avoided. If you have had fertility issues or otherwise want to minimize risk, you may decide to forgo all core work from the very beginning, and you may want to avoid all but the most gentle (cow and bridge) backbends.
Other than postures that compress the abdominal cavity, a woman in her first trimester can practice all basic yoga poses that feel good and help her to maintain her strength and flexibility.
Another consideration in creating the optimal environment for your baby is room temperature. If you are low-risk for miscarriage, accustomed to practicing yoga in a hot room, and it feels good to you to do so, you are welcome to practice in a hot room. If you are at a higher risk or it does not feel good to you, it’s best not to add unnecessary stress to your body.