1) Listen to your body and be comfortable
Make sure you feel comfortable in all the poses and during breathing or meditation. Adjust to use more blocks in postures or perhaps a chair is a useful support, and talk to the teacher about how to make it comfortable if it isn't. Encourage yourself to take easier alternatives if you are feeling tired or overwhelmed, especially during your third trimester.
2) Take extra care in your practice
If you are a beginner, then this will be easier for you as you'll be approaching the practice with less expectations. But if you are an experienced yoga practitioner, you may need to focus on practicing in a new way, changing old habits of yoga practice, and perhaps even letting go of your favourite pose while your pregnant. Your body is changing, daily, and your postures will need to adapt to this, both in the choice of posture, and in how you do them. Of course you still want to stay strong and supple during your pregnancy to avoid common aches and pains, but be careful to avoid over stretching (see below) or straining.
3) Make space for your baby
Stand with the feet wider than your hips and be careful not to squash your baby-bump or feel any pulling in the abdominal area. Forward bends are still wonderful to practice as long as you keep the legs wider, bend the knees and go as far as feels right for you and feel comfortable doing them. Avoid deep twists in the abdomen, keep any twisting lighter and 'above the bra strap' so your shoulders are twisting comfortably, but not your belly. Consider twisting in ways that leave more space in the belly area. Don't push yourself into anything.
4) Start any time after 13 weeks
The sooner you start, the more benefit you will gain and any time from 14 weeks is a safe time to join in unless advised otherwise. And you can continue all the way through as long as you feel good and keep enjoying the practice.
5) Keep your spine strong and healthy
Keeping your back in great shape will help support you all the way through your pregnancy. Focus on keeping your spine lengthened in asana (postures) and use your 'chin lock' (jalandara bandha) to help keep your spine and back of the neck long. Ask your teacher if your not sure of course!
6) Be careful of over stretching
Your body is producing a hormone called Relaxin during your pregnancy which makes you feel more flexible. You might find you can stretch further than usual, but don't be tempted to take advantage of this extra stretch. Your tendons and ligaments won't thank you later if you stretch too far. Don't stretch 100% in anything, hold back a little and be less ambitiious.
7) Engage your pelvic floor
Great to tone this area to facilitate post natal recovery. On the exhale, think about lifting and engaging your pelvic floor.
8) Avoid straining the abdomen
Approach leg lifting carefully, especially if you feel any pelvis discomfort. Listen to the advice of your mid-wife if you any discomfort in your abdomen or pelvis, it might mean you need special consideration in your yoga practice so talk to your teacher.
9) Choose your class carefully
Your yoga teacher should have specialist pregnancy training, but you don't need a specialist pregnancy class unless you want one. (The British Wheel of Yoga offer a good standard of accreditation for pregnancy yoga training).
A good class should be small enough so that the teacher can adjust the poses to ensure they are suitable as your body will change through each week of your pregnancy.
The class can either be a general class that will adjust the poses for you, or a specialist pregnancy class, whichever you prefer.
If your tired, consider a daytime yoga practice when you have more energy.
If you have special needs, consider a private lesson or two first to give you some guidelines on safe practice.
10) Enjoy the class
Yoga practice should feel enjoyable and leave you feeling energised, revitalised, relaxed and calm. You can keep it up as long as it feels good and doesn't leave you feeling over tired. Enjoy...
See more on yoga classes during pregnancy here.
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