Well, YES and NO!
Many of our clients ask us: “Why can’t I attend a pregnancy yoga class before 14 weeks of pregnancy?” Our answer: “First trimester is a time for allowing the body to get used to its new role: Creating, housing and nurturing a teeny, tiny human being. Welcome the changes in your body. Welcome baby into your being. And start to find time to rest and relax. You are on a magical journey now. ”
In reality, many women don’t realise they are pregnant for a number of weeks and continue to practice all sorts of highly active, even strenuous physical fitness regimes, including strong, dynamic yoga! The stark reality is that figures for miscarriage are higher in the first trimester, making many service providers want to steer clear of offering an active service to pregnant clients. It is estimated that ‘1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage… and the majority of miscarriages happen in the first trimester’. (Tommys.org) There are no figures to suggest that yoga itself can cause a miscarriage but we err on the side of caution too.
SLOW IT DOWN
That said, yoga is a full body and mind practice – while we recommend that you take it easy during the first trimester of your pregnancy, ... “slow down, you are learning’s baby’s pace” ... there are still plenty of yoga techniques you can use and yoga asanas (postures) you can practice. This is the perfect opportunity to explore breathing techniques, relaxation techniques and some gentle yoga micromoves, plus a couple of beautiful restorative yoga poses. Now is the ideal time to start a yoga practice. But start simply; a few minutes a day, create a yoga space in your home, with cushions and candles and maybe some of your favourite relaxation music.
These are our top tips for early pregnancy yoga:
FOCUS ON THE BREATH:
Seated breathing techniques like belly breathing or full yogic breath (starting with the breath in the belly and then moving up to the ribs and chest) allow the mind to slow down and make some space in the body.
As the uterus continues to expand, some gentle seated side stretches are lovely to make space for the lungs, organs, and baby.
You might also like to start exploring the Golden Thread breath (see our pregnancy breathing techniques blog). This could be followed by a practice of meditation.
ON HANDS AND KNEES:
In terms of moving the body, cat curls under, hip circles, gentle twists and side stretches on hands and knees are great for simply creating length in the spine and a stretch in the hips. Small sacrum circles and figures of 8 with the hips, side stretches maybe an adapted side plank and or even lunges/runner’s stretch, before working up towards an adapted/ bent legs downward-facing dog – if energy levels are up to it.
Viparita Karani, or Legs up the wall pose: divine! Make the most of feeling ok to lie on your back with this wonderful restorative pose. 5 or 10 minutes here will have you feeling rested and re-energised.