This guided practice video is for all levels, meaning it is suitable for beginners as well as yoginis with more experience. It was created with the intent of providing a practice for low-energy days. The practice stays on the floor and focuses on breath, gentle flow, and hip opening.
*The following article assumes a healthy pregnancy. If you have had complications of any kind, consult your doctor before undertaking any form of exercise.
The second trimester is the favorite part of pregnancy for many women. Your belly is growing, and your pregnancy becomes visible to others. If you were having morning sickness, it’s likely that it will subside, and you may feel more energetic now than in the first trimester. However, as you gain weight, you may start to have soreness or cramping in your feet and calves.
The guiding principles for yoga during the second trimester are continued awareness of how you’re affected by yoga postures and, in response, making gradual accommodations.
As in the first trimester, we continue to avoid compressing the abdominal cavity in the second trimester:
- Deep twists. Continue to leave deep twists out of your practice.
- Belly-Down Postures. After your stomach “pops”, prone postures like locust and bow are no longer appropriate.
- Shoulderstand. It’s pretty much impossible to get into shoulderstand at this point without compressing the abdomen, so if you haven’t already, phase out this posture during this trimester. Legs up a wall is a nice alternative to shoulderstand as long as lying on your back is still comfortable.
- Core work. Continue to back off core work, either phasing out poses like boat and plank, or taking less intense variations. To make boat less intense, bend your knees and hold onto the backs of your legs. To make plank less intense, drop your knees to the floor.
- Backbends. Notice how backbends like upward-facing dog, upward-facing bow, and camel feel to you, if you are still practicing them. If you sense that you might be overstretching the muscles of your abdomen or compressing the abdominal cavity with these deep backbends, don’t go quite so deep into them, or phase them out altogether. Supported camel (with your hands on your lower back) is a backbend that many women find they can do safely throughout the entirety of their pregnancies.
As you get bigger, you will begin to experience a decreased range of motion, meaning that you won’t be able to go as deep into postures because your belly is in the way. It may be necessary to take a wider stance in poses like chair pose, downward-facing dog, standing forward fold, and seated forward fold.
If you are comfortable lying on your back for short periods of time, you may continue to practice yoga postures lying on your back. If you aren’t, leave out poses like reclined big toe pose and reclined bound angle. Instead, take seated postures that get similar stretches like head-to-knee forward bend and seated bound angle. The second trimester is also a good time to begin incorporating a side-lying svasana, finding a comfortable resting position on your left side, rather than the classic supine svasana.
Another consideration is the pregnancy hormone relaxin. Relaxin makes your ligaments, the relatively inflexible tissues that hold your joints together, more flexible. The purpose of relaxin is to allow your pelvic bones to spread during the delivery of your baby, but it affects all the ligaments in your body, not just the ones in your pelvis, and it is present throughout all of pregnancy, and even a while after you’ve given birth. You may not feel more flexible, so it is easy to overstretch your joints without realizing it. This can lead to pain and injury later, possibly even chronic injury. Pay attention and notice if you feel any looseness or overstretching around your hips, shoulders, or other parts of your body during or after yoga practice. Do not go deeper into poses than you did pre-pregnancy.