Article by Sue Fuller
Being pregnant is an amazing, wonderful, life changing journey. The experience is different for everyone and during this time it is important that time is taken to enhance your pregnancy.
Yoga can enrich your pregnancy when you practice mindfully. Make sure that you listen to your body. If you feel pain or discomfort stop performing the posture or technique immediately and relax. There is no point in pushing yourself, if it is painful or uncomfortable don’t do it. You must listen to your body and ignore your ego. Your body will change – this is a good thing, the baby needs to grow and your body needs to prepare for labour and feeding a new born baby so a little extra body weight is required – enjoy it! When practicing yoga picture your abdomen as being larger than it actually is this will ensure that you create space for your growing baby and do not restrict the abdomen whilst moving through your yoga practices.
These are a few Postures to avoid – Listen to your body as you might find other postures uncomfortable too.
Do not perform any deep spinal twists.
Do not attempt breath retentions or cleansing breaths.
Do not exercise whilst lying on your back after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Do not squash or restrict the abdomen.
Do not overstretch as joints and ligaments soften in preparation for labour.
Avoid deep squats as this applies a lot of pressure to the cervix during pregnancy. A wide legged plie is a good alternative.
Avoid all inversions
Do not exercise whilst lying on your tummy.
Avoid all back bending postures.
Do not perform any kriyas (yoga cleansing activities).
Having listed all of the above remember to listen to your body and have fun because there are still heaps of yoga postures that are suitable for you at this time.
A few variations of yoga postures to try: –
When performing forward bends make sure that you soften your knees (to protect the lower back)and widen your legs (to create space for your abdomen).
When performing balancing postures face a wall and lightly rest your finger tips on it to help you maintain your balance as your centre of gravity changes as your abdomen grows and becomes heavier.
Do not arch your back down towards the floor when performing cat (this posture is executed on all fours) it will apply too much pressure to the lower back. Instead exhale and look through your legs and as you inhale just return to a flat back also known as table top.
When downward facing dog becomes a little challenging, kneel in front of a wall with your big toes together and your knees wide, place your hands onto the wall at shoulder height and then extend your arms up whilst leaning your body forwards.
Never commence any new physical activities during your pregnancy without consulting with your doctor or midwife first.
Remember if a posture or technique feels uncomfortable don’t do it.
Sue Fuller is a leading yoga teacher with a range of over 40 audio yoga classes, including a selection of pre and post natal Yoga classes. All yoga classes are available on CD or as a MP3 download from www.wellbeingworldonline.com or from www.yoga2hear.co.uk. Classes are easy-to-follow and suitable for all levels of yoga experience.
Sue is also the author of The British School of Yoga Pre and Post Natal Yoga Teachers Course, The resident yoga expert for Natural Health Magazine UK and a mother of two.