Just as each woman journeying towards Mamahood is unique, every trimester of pregnancy brings about different experiences—both wondrous... and, well, less than glamorous. From a glowing complexion to backache and swelling, our bodies go through incredible changes as we nourish and grow the Little Ones within us. Whether or not you practiced yoga before pregnancy, prenatal yoga is an excellent way to stay fit, connect with Baby, and prepare for labor as you journey through all the ups and downs of becoming a Mama.
Today we’re sharing six yoga poses you can begin today, which are ideal for women in their 1st trimester.
1. Easy Pose
What better way to begin your prenatal yoga practice than by connecting with your growing Baby. After all, this practice is for you both! Begin by finding a comfortable seat. Bringing one hand to your heart and the other to Baby, grow tall through the spine. Let every inhale fill your belly, making lots of space for your Little One. With every exhale, draw Baby in & up into a cozy abdominal hug. Now is the perfect time to contemplate a special wish or intention for your pregnancy journey. Continue for 5-10 breaths.
Tip: Sitting on a bolster or block will keep your hips comfortable and relaxed so you can focus on Baby.
Cat/Cow is a favourite warm-up posture, which promotes spinal mobility while gently working core strength. Begin with a neutral spine, palms beneath shoulders and knees beneath hips. On an exhale, curl your spine into Cat pose, drawing Baby in & up as you drop your gaze to your belly. Really empty your lungs before your next energizing inhale! As you breath in, return to a long neutral spine. Continue for 5-10 breaths.
Tip: Many women experience lower backache as their growing bump may cause them to sway their spine throughout the day. Make a conscious effort not to exaggerate the arch of your “cow” pose, and instead focus on a strong neutral spine position.
3. Open Twist
Gentle twisting not only promotes good spinal health, it also feels wonderful after a night of trying to sleep exclusively on your left side! This twist opens both the chest and back while stretching the inner thigh. Begin in Tabletop position. Extend your right leg along the mat, foot inline with the supporting knee. Inhale to sweep your right arm up as you open your chest to the right side wall. Exhale to lower your right arm, threading it under the left supporting arm. Continue for 3-5 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Tip: Avoid “closed” twists throughout your pregnancy (where your leg and shoulders travel in opposite directions across your midline) . Instead, focus on “open” twists, which won’t over-stretch the muscles and ligaments connected to your growing uterus.
4. Low Lunge
Low Lunge encourages openness through the hips and lengthening along the thighs. Beginning in Tabletop, step your left leg to the outer edge of your left hand. Inhale to sweep both arms up, fingers extending towards the ceiling. As you exhale, focus on lifting through the crown of your head and sliding your shoulder blades down your back to create a nice long neck. Be sure to draw Baby in & up throughout the pose in order to protect your lower back from over-arching. Hold for 3-5 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Tip: To focus on strengthening rather than stretching, vary this pose by simply lifting the knee to straighten the lower leg for a High Lunge.
5. Downward Dog
Did you know Downward Dog is considered by many yogis to be an inversion? While you may not be practicing headstands during your 1st trimester, you can reap the benefits of elevating your heart above your head with this classic pose, including increased oxygen and blood to the brain. Begin in Tabletop position with fingers spread and palms planted evenly on your mat. Inhale to curl your toes under and engage your shoulders. Exhale to lift the knees and straighten your legs. Inhale to create a long spine, and exhale to lower your heels towards the earth. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Tip: Be sensitive to feelings of nausea, which are all too familiar to 1st trimester Mamas. If inverting your torso triggers sickness, try sitting in Staff Pose; extend both legs in front of you as you lengthen your torso towards the ceiling. Hands rest at your sides.
6. Dolphin Pushup
Many prenatal yoga practices focus on opening the hips and strengthening the legs, but don’t forget about your upper body! Dolphin Push-Ups work the upper back, shoulders, chest, AND arms, all while challenging the abdominals – Bonus. Beginning in Tabletop position, lower your forearms to the ground and interlace the fingers. Lift your knees off the ground, to straighten your legs as in Downward Dog. Inhale to hinge forward until your chin hovers above your hands, keeping shoulder blades drawn down your back. Exhale to return to Dolphin Pose. Repeat for 3-5 breaths.
Tip: If the transition from Dolphin Pose to Push-Up position feels too intense for your abdominals, gently lower your knees to the ground for more support.
To make this a complete practice, be sure to end with your favourite resting poses. And, as with every yoga class you enjoy, be sure to listen to your body’s changing needs. We hope these yoga poses help you to feel open and strong throughout your journey!