Cheat Sheet for Yoga During Pregnancy
Reference this cheat sheet when you are unsure about what modifications you should be doing while pregnant and what postures should be avoided.
The further you move along in your pregnancy the more important it is to listen to your body and change the way you do yoga. Because the body releases a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy, many women will suddenly find themselves more flexible. It is easy to stretch beyond your normal range and that could result in an injury. Remember to never go to your edge during pregnancy. Here are some modifications you can use to help enhance your prenatal yoga while being mindful of yourself and baby.
Warrior Poses (l, ll, Reverse Warrior) Place your foot against the wall and use a chair to help with balance. Do not go deep into the pose (less than 90 degrees is recommended)
Twists (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose, Revolved Chair Pose, Two Knee Spinal Twist Pose) Instead of twisting from the lower back, twist from the upper back (bra strap area). If at any point you feel uncomfortable it is best to refrain from twists during your practice. Back Bends (Bridge Pose, Cow Pose, Standing Backbend) It is recommended to avoid deep back bends while pregnant. Be sure to keep your muscles engaged and start off small. Try using a pillow under your back and glutes for a supported bridge pose. Forward Folds After the first trimester, be sure to only bend forward so your chest is at around 80 degrees. Use a chair or wall to support yourself if balancing is becoming challenging. Sun Salutation Keeping in mind the modifications listed above, you can continue to incorporate sun salutations into your practice. Avoid upward facing dog and cobra beyond the first trimester and substitute these poses with cat/cow. Use caution when transitioning from a forward fold to standing as it's easier to become dizzy or light headed. If this is the case, slow down your movements and widen your angle in forward fold. Savasana
Use props to go into a reclined savasana. A couple bolsters or a stack of pillows will do the trick. If you find that uncomfortable, roll to the left side (usually the right) and lay there during savasana. This keeps the blood flow to your fetus unrestricted and keeps your uterus from putting pressure on your liver.
Inversions Refrain from doing inversions throughout your pregnancy if they were not part of your practice beforehand. Legs up the wall is a great modification to get a little blood flow up until the the 36th week of pregnancy. Transitions Avoid jumping to poses. Take one foot at a time and place your knee down if you need extra support. If you are trying to do a balance pose, use the wall or a chair.
Prone Postures (cobra, bow, locust, sphinx) Avoid postures where you are laying on your stomach especially after the first trimester. Any pose that has pressure on the lower abdomen should be avoided. Substitute these poses with cat/cow for a similar stretch. Abdominal postures (plank, boat) It is advised to avoid poses that strain the abdomen beyond the first trimester to lower your risk of Diastasis recti. Diastasis recti is a common condition in pregnancy where the two right and left sides of the rectus abdominis spread apart at the body's mid-line (the linea alba). If you are still wanting to get your plank on, try doing it with your knees down or standing up against the wall on an angle.
Breathing exercises are an important part of yoga and pregnancy but be mindful when practicing them. Avoid techniques that hold your breath in and at any point if you are feeling light-headed, return to regular breathing.
Your body is changing every day and just because you could do something yesterday doesn't mean its right for you today. Every time you step on your mat run though a list of questions: How is my body feeling today? Any pain? Any stiffness? What area do I want to focus on? Am I feeling tired? Energized? What are my intensions for todays practice? This will help you keep track of how you are feeling during the changing stages of pregnancy. If you have any questions about modifications or substitutions? Ask me! Namaste Love Nastassja