Yoga for pregnant women can prepare them physically, emotionally and spiritually for the pregnancy, labour, childbirth and motherhood.
The first trimester of a pregnancy is the most challenging in terms of practising yoga. Although there is usually no visible evidence of the pregnancy, on the inside your body is going through rapid, daily changes. As your baby starts to make its home in your uterus, it develops from a single embryonic cell into a growing fetus. The physical make-up of your growing baby is formed by the end of week nine, and by the end of the first trimester it is moving effortlessly around in its oceanic sea o amniotic fluid.
During these first twelve weeks, it is vital that you listen to your body, letting the body’s innate wisdom be your guide and respecting any cues it may give you, Pregnancy is no the time to overexert yourself; rather, it is a time to relinquish any temptations to overachieve and to focus instead on a mindful practice of meditation, pranayama and restorative yoga poses that honours both your changing body and your growing baby.
As you enter the second trimester, you will hopefully feel more energised; this is the period when nausea, morning sickness and tiredness usually abate. The intention or aim for this stage of your pregnancy is to help prepare you to give birth. The focus should be on standing postures, squats and hip openers. These will help to build stamina, increase strength in your thighs and create freedom in the hips and around the pelvis, to help prepare you physically for giving birth.
During the final months of pregnancy, you are encouraged to conserve your energy and return to a practice of restorative yoga, meditation, visualisations and positive thinking. You are invited to replace any fears you may have about labour and the impending birth of your child with positive thoughts (affirmations) and visualisations. These practices will help you to mentally prepare yourself for labour and the delivery of your child, encouraging you to focus on and develop qualities such as courage, patience, acceptance and trust as you focus on having a labour of love and a happy birth-day.
Breath techniques should be focused on during this trimester, as they are very useful in supporting you during labour and delivery.
Adapted from ‘The Yoga of Pregnancy‘ (Findhorn Press 2012)