First of all, congratulations and big smiles all around! This is such an amazing and tender time that is filled with excitement. Whether you are new to yoga or an avid practitioner, your body is dynamically changing, and things are shifting to accommodate these changes. I’m not going to give you a list of dos and don’ts. But what I am going to give you is encouraging guidelines for you to explore during this sweet and, sometimes challenging, time.
We will talk about some common symptoms during the first trimester and how to address them. We will also discuss some tools to refine your inner listening as well as some movements that can help.
A yoga practice during the first trimester can look different for everyone. Different teachers have varied opinions on what is considered “safe” during the first trimester. Before we talk about any kind of movement, I want to say that the most important thing in the first trimester is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! Every pregnancy is different and there is not a single woman in the world that has the same experience in their pregnancies.
What is occurring physically in your body is amazing. In the first trimester, you are literally creating your baby — organs, tissues, all of it. Wow! So remember, every time you get frustrated that you feel ill or fatigued, remind yourself that you are working so hard to create a new life. I lovingly encourage you, before taking on any new or even familiar activities, to pause and really check in with how your body is feeling. Ask yourself, “What does my body/baby need right now to feel the most nourished?” Be patient and adopt a healthy perspective.
Now is not the time for pushing edges. It’s a time for rest, contemplation, connection, intimacy, and joy. You have your whole life ahead of you for vigorous movements. For the first 12-15 weeks (15 if you are high risk), just focus on nourishing, relaxing activities. The first trimester does not last for long (although if you are nauseous it can feel like an eternity.) Your symptoms should improve after 12-15 weeks. By that time you will feel ready to resume most of your regular activities.
You are hormonal — even more so than usual. Please be kind to yourself, and ask your partner for patience as you navigate these changes. Take time to rest and to meditate too. Here’s a summary of the three major hormones that are hard at work during this time:
The increase in estrogen, progesterone, and relaxin creates a “loosening effect” on your smooth muscle tone. Your body is actually becoming more flexible and pliable in preparation for birth. For this reason, I recommend focusing more on strength and stability in your yoga practice versus deep stretching. Due to the influx of relaxing, it’s important not to overstretch. Be mindful in your practice to avoid putting too much pressure on your joints and ligaments.
I offer these guidelines as just that. Please know that different things have felt good to me in each of my pregnancies. During one pregnancy I loved back bends, in another I preferred twists. I can’t encourage you enough to tune your ear to your body’s needs and move from this place of intuition. Here are some general guidelines to get you started.
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