Many parents-to-be come to yoga for the first time during their pregnancy. Yoga is recommended by a care provider or a friend as a way to address some of the common discomforts that go along with inhabiting a pregnant body. It can also provide much needed mind-body practices that can help address stress and anxiety and potentially prepare one for childbirth. There are many folks though who have had a regular yoga practice up until the point of their pregnancy and want to continue doing their regular yoga classes. My advice? Definitely check out a prenatal yoga class or pregnancy yoga videos online this will give you an idea of what you can and can't do. And will also give you inspiration for modifications when you're in a class that is doing something not recommended for the pregnancy body. There are some general guidelines you can keep in mind in your practice:
In most cases its a matter of what things to avoid, we'll go through each of the things to avoid and some ways to adjust when you're in a regular yoga class:
Avoid deep twists
For twisting on the back:
Avoid poses on the stomach
Pretty intuitive right? Many folks will find that up till around 14-18 weeks they will feel find being on their bellies and if it feels okay in the first trimester then there's no reason not to continue to do so. Other folks will find that immediately they will feel protective of their belly and want to avoid anything on the stomach. Ways to modify are:
Avoid poses on the back where both hips and shoulders are touching the floor
This becomes important around 20ish weeks of pregnancy as baby starts to get bigger. When we lie flat on our back there is the potential for baby to put pressure on the vena cava a vein that carries deoxygenated blood back to the heart. Prolonged pressure on the vena cava can, for some people, put baby at risk. That being said, it is prolonged pressure if you come briefly on to your back you won't be doing any harm, its more a matter of if you were to set yourself up in savanasana flat on your back for a long time. With a few props you can modify to make yourself more comfortable:
Avoid deep backbends
Another note for later in pregnancy because it will a) most likely not feel great and b) has the potential to aggravate diastisis (fine more about about that in my book!).
Avoid certain Pranayama: Kapalabhati, Bhastrika, long breath retentions and certain Kriyas: Uddiyana Bhanda, Nauli, Agni Sara
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