It’s understandable that the idea of giving birth and becoming a parent is enough to instil a mild sense of panic to the individual.
A regular practice of yoga breathing techniques, relaxation, meditation and gentle posture work can provide increased confidence, stamina and coping skills for the physical and emotional demands of labour and the tools to support the female during the various stages of pregnancy and life thereafter.
For anyone planning on practicing yoga during pregnancy, there are a few things to consider and be aware of.
Find A Class Near You
Firstly, I would recommend that you go to a Pregnancy Yoga class. Every pregnancy differs and yoga practices can be modified to fit each individuals needs. Pregnancy Yoga classes are specifically tailored and more relevant. Plus, there is an opportunity to meet other expectant mothers and create a little support network. There are lots of pregnancy yoga classes available. Check out Yoga Therapy Ireland for a list of Pregnancy Yoga Practitioners around Ireland.
Ensure Your Ability
Before attending any yoga class, check with your doctor that it is safe to do so. If you’ve been given the all clear, chat to your teacher before class to let them know if you have been experiencing any dizziness, nausea or tiredness. If you have any health problems such as high blood pressure, back problems or history of miscarriage, make sure to communicate these factors also.
Yoga for the First Trimester
If you are completely new to yoga, it is generally better to hold off joining a class until after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Those who are experienced in yoga, have a regular practice, and wish to keep this up are recommended to avoid strong asana work (the physical aspect of yoga), particularly strong standing poses and wide legged postures and focus more on the gentle movements, relaxation, meditation and peaceful breathing techniques.
Yoga for the Second Trimester
With the renewed energy that weeks 13-28 may bring, now is the time to try some modified poses to strengthen the body and improve posture and stamina. The classic yoga postures need to be adapted to avoid straining the mother or constricting the baby. For example, narrowing the stance and using a wall for support in Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana) and standing forward bends and avoid lying on the back for too long.
Yoga for the Third Trimester
Various levels of discomfort may surface throughout weeks 29-40 as the baby grows steadily and the female slows considerably. Tiredness, breathlessness, backache, leg cramps and pelvic discomfort can all be experienced at this stage. Yoga needs to be gentle at this point. Lots of work on all fours in ‘Tabletop’ position here. Easing out the hips from side to side, tilting the pelvis forward and back without letting the belly collapse, tucking the tailbone and round the spine are all helpful.
Generally speaking, a continued effort to develop a relaxation, visualisation and meditation practice with breath work are tools that will really come in handy when baby wants to make an appearance! In the later stages, sitting cross legged against the wall with the knees supported makes meditating more comfortable. When the time comes to relax, avoid resting on the back and opt to lie on the left side with the top leg bent up and supported on a cushion.
And remember! Pregnancy hormones soften ligaments so you may feel more flexible than you were before. Take care not to overstretch!