Yoga during the First Trimester of Pregnancy

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Staying fit and healthy (both physically and mentally) right from the initial stages of pregnancy is important for the healthy growth and development of the baby. When you experience morning sickness, nausea, and other tiring pregnancy symptoms, exercise and yoga can prove to be a boon at the time. Exercise, particularly, yoga can significantly improve your mental and physical health during pregnancy.

In this article, we will tell you if you should start practising yoga in the first trimester of your pregnancy and which yoga asanas are safe to be performed in the first three months of pregnancy.

Is it Safe to Practise Yoga in the First Trimester of Pregnancy?

Yes, yoga can be safely practised during the first trimester of pregnancy but only under the guidance of a certified yoga instructor who is aware of your health. There are certain asanas and poses which may inhibit the blood flow to the uterus and cause sprain or muscle spasms, hence yoga asanas should be practised with caution and under the guidance of a yoga instructor. You should also consult your gynaecologist before you start practising yoga.

Benefits of Practising Yoga in the First Trimester of Pregnancy

Let’s try to understand how practising yoga in the first trimester of pregnancy can benefit your health.

  • It Can Help Keep Unhealthy Habits at Bay
    It’s pretty much imperative that you have to let go of unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle during the first trimester of your pregnancy for the sake and wellbeing of your developing baby. Yoga helps you let go of toxic emotions and cope better with letting go of unhealthy habits like overeating/anorexia, smoking, alcoholism, and insomnia.
  • It May Provide Relief from Pain
    Yoga provides relief from the pain that comes with pregnancy. You’ll be able to cope better with the pain during the three trimesters by practising safe yoga asanas. Practising breathing techniques can help you stay relaxed and stress-free during pregnancy.
  • It May Strengthen Mind-Body Connection
    If you’ve struggled with mindfulness, practising yoga can help. By practising yoga, you will be mindfully aware of the life growing inside you and learn how to let go and live in the moment. Practising yoga can improve your mood and make you emotionally strong.
  • Physical Activity
    Engaging in some or the other form of physical activity is important during pregnancy and even otherwise to stay healthy. While pregnant, practising simple yoga asanas can ensure that you stay physically active and relaxed at the same time.
  • It Can Help Improve Your Sleep Pattern
    Women who experience sleep-related issues during pregnancy can greatly benefit from yoga. Yoga regulates sleep patterns and assists in hormonal imbalances, thus improving sleep quality.

Yoga Routine to Follow During the First Trimester of Pregnancy

Some things to incorporate in your yoga routine during the first trimester are as follows:

  • Avoid strenuous yoga exercises in the first trimester of pregnancy and do not stretch beyond your natural range of motion.
  • Listen to your body and be aware of pain and signals.
  • Rest whenever you want.
  • Do not practise yoga in hot weather or when you are not keeping well.

Yoga Poses/Asanas You Can Try in the First Trimester

Given below are some yoga poses that can be practised during the first trimester of pregnancy. Although these are pregnancy-safe yoga asanas, we suggest that you check with your doctor before you start practising them.

1. Bhujangasana

Bhujangasana

Bhujangasana is a simple yoga pose. It is also called the cobra pose. When practising this pose, don’t push yourself too hard and don’t hold this position for more than 30 seconds.

How to Do:

  • Lie on your stomach with your forehead facing the floor.
  • Keep your feet at hip-width distance.
  • Keep your elbows close to the body and place them underneath your shoulders.
  • Retract your shoulder blades to the back and draw your pubic bone towards the floor for stability.
  • Gently inhale and lift your head and chest off the floor. Relax your shoulders and don’t exert your full bodyweight downwards.
  • Exhale and slowly lower yourself back to the ground.
  • Do 4-5 reps.

Benefits

This pose can help release tension in your lower back, improve your mood, and increase overall flexibility.

2. Baddha Konasana

Baddha Konasana

Baddha konasana is commonly known as the butterfly pose as it resembles a butterfly flapping its wings. It is best practised on an empty stomach.

How to Do

  • Sit straight (or as comfortably straight as possible) and stretch your legs outside.
  • Inhale gently and bend your knees as your heels are pulled towards your pelvis.
  • Lightly press the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to drop gently to the sides.
  • Lift the heels towards your pelvis as close as possible and hold your feet with your hands.
  • The outer edges of the feet must be planted on the floor and your torso should lengthen across the sternum.
  • Hold the pose for five minutes and lift your knees, extend, relax and return to your original position.

Benefits

This pose helps in reducing fatigue, stimulating the adrenal glands, treating menstrual problems, and improving overall blood circulation in the body.

3. Bitalasana

Bitalasana

Bitalasana is known as the ‘Cow Pose’. This pose is usually practised with cat pose and is a beginner level asana.

How to Do

  • Get on all fours in a tabletop position.
  • Your wrist should be in line with shoulders and your head must be in between your hands.
  • Gently inhale and lift up your buttocks towards the ceiling, thus opening the chest.
  • Sink your abdomen towards the ground and lift your head up.
  • Hold for a few seconds, exhale and return to the tabletop position.
  • Repeat this sequence five to six times.

Benefits

This pose provides relief from stress, massages the internal organs, and improves blood circulation. It also tones the back and relieves back pain too.

4. Marjariasana

Marjariasana

Marjariasana is known as the ‘Cat Pose’ as it resembles a cat stretching its back. It’s an Ashtanga Yoga asana. You can practise this yoga asana on an empty stomach but do not hold the position for more than 15 seconds.

How to Do

  • Get on all fours on a yoga mat. Your wrists should be in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips.
  • Place your hands on the mat facing forward and keep your shin and knees at a hip-width distance.
  • Inhale while bringing your belly close to the mat.
  • Lift up the chin and chest and stare at the ceiling.
  • Widen your shoulder blades, moving them away from the ears.
  • Get into the cat pose and exhale, while bringing your belly towards your spine.
  • Round your back with it facing towards the ceiling. Inhale and return to the cow pose.
  • Exhale and return to the Cat Pose.
  • Repeat a total of 5 to 20 minutes and rest.

Benefits

This yoga asana helps purify the blood, rejuvenates the mind, promotes proper blood circulation and works as an effective stress-buster for pregnant women.

5. Viparita Karani

Viparita Karani

Literally translates to ‘Legs Up The Wall Pose,’ this yoga asana helps rejuvenate the mind. It should be practised with caution during pregnancy and by resting the foot against a wall.

How to Do

  • Lie down on the floor, tuck the chin slightly into the chest and gently pull your shoulder blades towards each other while lifting your hips up.
  • Support your hips on your hands, open up the chest and gently raise your legs and rest them against a wall.
  • Close your eyes and breathe, while holding this position for five minutes.
  • Release and roll over to a side.
  • Breath before sitting up.

Benefits

This yoga pose helps cure headaches, relieves menstrual cramps, and provides relief from lower back pain.

6. Tadasana

Tadasana

Tadasana is a towering pose that resembles that of the mountains. It’s a standing yoga pose for Hatha Yoga beginners and doesn’t require to be practised on an empty stomach.

How to Do

  • Keep your hands alongside your body and stand tall with your legs a bit apart.
  • Lift your ankles by strengthening the inner arches and visualize white light passing through them.
  • Turn your upper thighs inward, flex the tailbone towards the floor and thrust the pelvis forward.
  • Look up, breathe in and stretch the shoulders, arms, and chest. Raise your heels with bodyweight on toes, hold for a few seconds, exhale, and release.

Benefits

Some of the benefits of this pose are improved posture, steady breathing, mindful awareness, prevention of flat feet, and improved strength plus mobility in the feet, legs, and hips.

7. Virabhadrasana

Virabhadrasana

Known as the Warrior II Pose, it is inspired by a mythical warrior called Virabhadra. It’s suitable for beginners and is practised on an empty stomach.

How to Do

  • Stand in the mountain pose and bring your feet forward, they should be about 3.5 to 4 feet apart.
  • Arms raised and parallel to the floor, face them towards opposite ends, with shoulder blades wide and palms down.
  • Turn your right foot slightly more right and your left food approximately 90 degrees.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, inhale and come up. Repeat on the other side.

Benefits

The Warrior II Pose energizes the body, promotes balance and stability, improves respiration, builds stamina and focus and finally, enhances blood circulation.

Yoga Poses to Avoid During the First Trimester

Avoid practising the yoga poses stated below in the first trimester of pregnancy –

1. Sun Salutations With Jump-backs

Sun salutations are a complete exercise in itself and can drain you. Due to the physical demands of the body and energy required by the growing fetus, it’s important that you take rest and avoid anything that exhausts you.

2. Locust Pose

This yoga pose can pressure on your belly, which can be bad for the baby and pregnancy.

3. Boat Pose

Practising boat pose during pregnancy can strain the abdominal muscles and stress the belly.

4. Plough Pose

Plough pose can put pressure on your core, which can affect your health and baby’s health negatively.

Yoga Tips to Keep in Mind During the First Trimester

Keep these tips in mind when practising yoga asanas during your first trimester:

  1. If you’re new to yoga, start with simple poses to improve your flexibility. And use props when you feel tired but want to continue practising yoga.
  2. Don’t practice yoga poses that require you to bend your back or plank pose, or anything that twists or puts pressure on the uterus or belly.
  3. Relax at the end of a class and make sure to breathe properly while practising yoga.
  4. Modify the above safe pregnancy yoga asanas as per your comfort level and physical health, and practice under the supervision of a certified teacher.

Keep these tips in mind and practice safely in a quiet and stress-free environment. The key thing is to stay relaxed and enjoy yourself. If you ever feel any discomfort, feel free to stop midway and rest.

Also Read: Pregnancy Exercises for Normal Delivery