Pregnancy is the perfect time to slow down and connect with the life you are creating inside. Now more then ever it is of utmost importance to listen to your body. There are myriad changes taking place that effect not only the physical body, but also the mental and emotional sheaths.
The good news is that by maintaining a consistent yoga practice most of the common complaints and discomforts associated with pregnancy can be alleviated or even all together avoided! Remember, when you take time to nourish your well-being you are nourishing the well-being of your baby – there are no lofty goals to be obtained during this time.
Here are some tips and guidelines for each trimester:
Congratulations! Although you may be feeling too sick or exhausted to feel excited. This is a delicate time when implantation is still taking place and the placenta is beginning to form. Hormones and blood mass increase, which contribute to breast swelling and tenderness, bloating, nausea and fatigue.
Even though it’s safe to continue with your usual exercise and yoga routine, give yourself permission to rest when you need to. Nourish yourself with healthy foods, cut back or cut out caffeine, and remember to stay hydrated throughout your pregnancy (especially while exercising!).
Also known as ” The Honeymoon Phase”. Your energy has likely returned and you are able to share your news and enjoy your growing bump. Make sure you let your yoga teacher know you are pregnant if you are still taking regular yoga classes.
As you practice think “space for baby” with open poses that don’t compress the abdomen – that means no Navasana or deep twists! Some core work is still ok and can even help keep your transverse abdominal muscles (the hammock muscles that “cradle” baby) and lower back strong.
Avoid being on your back for very long as your growing uterus can put pressure on a major vein called the vena cava, which is located on the right of the body and returns blood from the legs to your heart. For savasana you can either use a bolster with one or two blocks underneath, or lie on your left side with your right leg bent and resting over the bolster to keep hips stacked and sacrum even.
I highly recommend checking out a few prenatal classes and using the time you practice to not only stay strong and flexible but to bond with the growing life inside of you. Continue to keep your water bottle close at hand and eat a little something every 2-3 hours to keep energy up and avoid feeling light headed or dizzy.
The home stretch! You didn’t think you could possibly get bigger and voila, those last couple of months have stretched you to the max!
During this last phase of your pregnancy it’s a good idea to incorporate more restorative poses, such as supported bound angle pose, or supported legs up the wall (or resting on couch) to reduce swelling.
Gentle exercises on hands and knees such as cats breath, hip circles and puppy dog feel really good because you are releasing the weight of the belly off of the organs and bladder and encouraging optimal fetal positioning.
Make sure you stay cool with whatever form of exercise you choose and continue to stay hydrated with water, coconut water and fresh juices. Eating small frequent meals will help if you’re experiencing heart burn or acid reflux, as will staying propped up when sleeping or practicing restorative yoga.
During this time it may be helpful to incorporate some visualization and meditation to your practice. Mantras, or short positive affirmations are also useful in helping you stay calm, present and focused. Here are a few I recommend:
- Sitting up against a wall or lying back on some support, close your eyes and rest your hands on your belly. Bring your attention to your navel. As you Inhale imagine you’re breathing in soft orange/white light directly to your baby, illuminating his/her home and balancing the second Chakra where they are growing. As you exhale feel the body soften and let go of unnecessary, distracting thoughts.
- With one hand resting over your heart center and one hand on belly, inhale feeling your heart expand with love, and exhale sending all the love from your heart directly to your baby. Connect your hearts and feel the special bond you have and will always have with your baby.
Mantras (helpful short phrases you can silently repeat to yourself)
- Breath in SPACE, Breath out RELAX.
- My body knows exactly what it is doing, it was made to give birth.
- I AM – breath to and move through passing sensation.
Remember you are doing the most important job at this time, creating life! Everything else can take a backseat for now. Take time to slow down and bond with the precious life growing inside you and know that you have all the strength and wisdom you need within yourself to guide you through your pregnancy and along the path to Motherhood.
Sissy St. John has been practicing and teaching Yoga since 1998 on both the West and the East Coast. She trained in LA with the original founders of YogaWorks; Maty Ezraty and Chuck Miller, and studied extensively with Annie Carpenter, Sean Corn, Vinnie Marino. In 2006 Sissy moved from LA to New York to study under the guidance and tutelage of Yogiraj Alan Finger, creator and founder of ISHTA Yoga. She now resides permanently in Manhattan with her husband and little boy, and teaches around the city – private clientele, corporates, and at YogaWorks on the Eastside. Aside from yoga her great passions include baking, writing and creating her scentsational aromatherapy blends!
Her popular Prenatal DVD as well as her Organic Beauty Oils are both available on her website: www.sissystjohn.com and etsy.com/SissyStJohn. You can also follow her on twitter @yogasissy.