Congratulations you’re pregnant!
Now you may be wondering whether you should exercise or not during your pregnancy? Well, depending on your level of fitness, and always under the guidance of your GP, there really is nothing to stop you continuing with gentle exercise. I wouldn’t recommend you start a new fitness trend but a simple yoga sequence could be the perfect solution.
There are many benefits to practicing pregnancy yoga. Many women enjoy cultivating the breath awareness and strengthening the body in preparation for labour. While others see it as an opportunity to connect with their baby during this magical time.
- increases your energy
- empowers the mother-to-be to have conscious birth experience
- keeps you fit whilst being sensitive to the baby and you
- decreases anxiety
- strengthens birthing muscles
- quickens postpartum recovery
- improves sleep
- reduces backache
- improves circulation
- promotes healthy birth
When to practice?
Be conscious of how your body feels and seek medical advice regarding any health issues.
General guidelines are that you:
- rest during the first trimester
- start yoga in the second trimester
- continue your classes until birth
- take up postnatal classes after birth
8 yoga poses for the 2nd and 3rd Trimester
No pregnancy is the same. By the time I reached my 3rd trimester I had put on 19kg! It wasn’t easy when walking or sleeping but thankfully I had a few key postures up my sleeve.
The following are some I used to support my body and relieve some of the aches and pains I experienced.
Knowing how and when to adapt your exercise during pregnancy ensures you’ll practice safely, supporting the emotional and physical changes during the three trimesters.
Here are my top eight.
1.Healing Mountain Pose
Good for: postural alignment, creating space to breathe, connecting with your baby
You will need: yoga mat
Stand tall with feet together and hands in prayer position. Align your body, lengthening up along the spine and rooting down into the feet. Breath freely.
After a few breaths step the feet apart and place one hand over the heart chakra (centre of chest) and one hand over the sacral chakra (navel) Take a few deep breaths into the hands. Connect with your baby, sending warm, loving thoughts.
2. Supported and Seated Triangle Pose
Good for: all over strength especially the legs, good hip opener, feeling grounded
You will need: yoga mat, chair
Using a chair by your side for support stand in triangle pose, feet apart, arms extended parallel with shoulders. Turn your right foot and bend your knee.
Exhale and lower right hand onto the seat of the chair. Inhale and slowly straighten the knee, lengthening the left arm up to the sky. Stay here for three deep breaths before softening back to starting position and repeating on the other leg.
Try this seated triangle when you need a little more support.
Sit on the chair and take your legs wide apart, arms long
Inhale to prepare, exhale lower left arm onto left thigh and reach out with the right arm to achieve a side stretch. Stay here for three deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.
3. Not So Downward Dog
Good for: creating space in the torso, back ache, improved breathing
You will need: yoga mat and chair
Position the chair so that it is not able to move or slip. Stand with feet apart, bend knees and place hands onto the seat. Slowly step back and straighten knees, aligning head between straight arms. Lift hips and lengthen through the torso to achieve a long spine. Avoid lowering head below the heart. Breath freely and then step towards the chair, bend knees and slowly roll up the spine, head last up.
4. Seated Twist
Good for: digestion, tight back and hips, spinal mobility
You will need: yoga mat and chair
Deep abdominal twists that press into the belly are not advised during pregnancy. However, this gentle twist using a chair is a safe and effective.
Sitting on the chair with feet together, reach back with your right hand and hold the edge of the seat. Place your left hand on the outside of your right thigh. Inhale and slowly turn your torso towards the right side of the chair. Exhale and turn to look over your shoulder. Take three breaths and then repeat on the other side.
5. Partner Squats
Good for: leg and back strength, labour, developing trust and rapport with your partner
You will need: yoga mat, a partner!
Leg strength is vital for pregnant ladies. Especially during labour. The following technique prepares us for the delivery of our baby. Please consult with your GP or health visitor to ensure this sequence is suitable for you.
You will need the help of your partner. Stand opposite one another and hold hands
Imagine you are sitting back into a chair and squat back no lower than your knees. Inhale, push into the feet and lift back up. Repeat three times.
With the trust and support of your partner lower a little deeper until you are almost sitting on the floor. Feet should always remain flat to the ground and back straight. This may not suit everyones knees or backs, so please be mindful of what your body can comfortably achieve. Sometimes it helps to lower down on to a stool or pouffe, pressing your back against a wall for support.
6. Cat Pose
Good for: mobilising the spine, connecting with the breath, back ache, upper body strength
You will: yoga mat
Position yourself on all fours, gently drawing the navel in towards the spine.
Inhale to prepare and as you exhale gentle draw in your belly, press into the hands and tuck the pelvis and head in towards the centre of your body. Inhale and relax gently back to the first position. Repeat three times.
7. Childs Pose
Good for: back relief, releasing trapped wind, emotional stress
You will need: yoga mat, bolster or firm cushions
From Cat’s pose place hands on a bolster or large firm cushion, separate knees and lower bottom back onto heels.
Be mindful not to press into the belly. You are looking for a gentle stretch for the back and shoulders. Take three breaths and then lift back onto all fours.
8. Relax and Unwind Pose
Good for: relaxing, taking the pressure from the hips and back, aiding comfort for sleep
You will need: yoga mat, blankets, cushions, bolsters, a quiet space
Lying on your right side make sure you are warm and free from distractions. Place a small cushion under you head and a folded blanket under your belly. Bend your left leg and place your thigh and lower leg on a couple of cushions. When you feel comfortable close your eyes and relax through the body from your head down to your toes. Connect with your baby and imagine calm soothing energy between you both.
It’s never too late to practise prenatal yoga but always practice under the care and guidance of a qualified and experienced yoga instructor and with the approval of your GP or health visitor.
The Pregnancy Programme DVD
Good for: a peaceful, pregnancy yoga experience
You will need: to visit the Yoga4mums website to purchase your copy!
The above photographs were taken during the filming of Yoga4mums DVD The Pregnancy Programme
Voted top 2nd trimester video by Healthline
Photographs taken by Nic Lapite
Make up by Liz Tarrant