Work With Your Pregnant Body, Not Against It
It’s no secret that pregnancy brings a plethora of physical, mental, and emotional stresses for women. Once your pregnant belly starts to grow, and your body goes through intense biological changes, causing it to operate differently than how you’re used to, it can sometimes feel as though you aren’t able to do any of the activities you previously enjoyed. Thankfully, yoga doesn’t need to be one of those activities that is forced onto the post-pregnancy pile. It is perfectly healthy and possible to continue practicing yoga throughout the duration of your pregnancy, as long as you do it safely.
Focus on Your Breathing
For anyone who practices yoga, you’ll know that at the core of the practice is matching one’s breath to one’s movement. Breathing is such an important aspect of any yoga practice, and when you become pregnant, each breath you take is incredibly valuable. In your classes, practice smooth, even breaths where each inhale is equal in length to each exhale. This is also great practice for labor, as it helps to calm both your mind and your nervous system.
Hydrate Often and Stay Cool
Before you became pregnant, you may have been an avid practitioner of Bikram or ‘hot yoga.’ However, for the duration of your pregnancy, you should avoid such straining and exhaustive practices. During pregnancy, your body is unable to regulate its body temperature as it normally would, and thus you can become overheated very quickly. When you first arrive to class, try to select a spot in the room where you have access to good airflow, either near the door, a window, or a fan. In addition, you should be consistently hydrating. Remember, you’re drinking water for two!
Use Props for Assistance or Modify Yoga Poses
As your belly grows during your pregnancy, your center of gravity will change drastically, and therefore so will your sense of balance. Ideally, it would be great if you can find a spot in your class that is near a wall, as you can lean into it and use it to help stabilize you during some of the poses. You can also use yoga blocks to help you modify some of the trickier poses. Remember: your body is not the same as it used to be! A pregnant belly is no small encumbrance! You’ll have to adjust and make changes accordingly when you find that you can no longer move or balance the way that you used to.
Avoid Laying on Your Belly or Chest
All yoga mamas-to-be should definitely avoid laying on their stomachs or chests while pregnant, especially women who have entered their second trimester. While you may have no problems during the first 5 – 12 weeks of your pregnancy, once your belly and your baby start to grow, adding any direct pressure to your abdomen could be both unpleasant and harmful. Many doctors also caution against spending too much time supine, as you have the potential to compress the inferior vena cava: the vein that brings blood from your lower body back to your heart. To ensure you won’t run into any issues with that, stay away from any positions where you’re laying on your back. Opting to roll over onto your left side can help alleviate any discomfort and keep you and your baby safe.
Yoga is Safe for Every Stage of Pregnancy
Inversions may seem like one of those exercises that would want to be avoided while you’re pregnant but in actuality, if you feel strong, secure, and are well-versed in them, you technically can still continue practicing inversions. It’s best to stick to holding them for only 30 seconds or less and use a wall for support if you feel as though you need it. It’s very likely that as you continue throughout your pregnancy your body will begin to favor less and less inversions, so switch to more stable yoga poses or modify them slightly with blocks.
Trust and Listen to Your Pregnant Body
At the end of the day, continuing to practice yoga safely while you’re pregnant all boils down to how your body responds to the poses and what feels right for you. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Learning to really listen to what your body is telling you during this time is imperative to not only the rest of your pregnancy but your journey in life. Trust your instincts and know that the only person who knows what’s best for you is YOU!
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