yoga trainingBy Sangeetha Saran

According to the Mayo Clinic, Yoga reduces stress, improves sleep, strengthens and prepares muscles for childbirth and supports full-term pregnancy. New practitioners should check with their medical providers and find classes with a teacher who has completed prenatal Yoga teacher training, if possible. Classes often turn into a support group where expectant moms can learn and share their concerns and knowledge.

While it can be a happy time, the first trimester of pregnancy is a time of transformation. Visible changes haven’t occurred yet, but the internal body is quickly changing. Hormones surge, blood pressure drops and muscles and joints begin to loosen to make room for the baby.

During this time, Yoga is one of the most effective and beneficial ways to maintain a healthy exercise routine and physically and mentally prepare the body for pregnancy. Miscarriages, however, are most common in the first trimester, and some people also experience discomfort from the following:

• Nausea, also known as morning sickness

• Painful, swollen breasts

• Fatigue

• Dizziness

• Mood swings

• Food cravings

• Increased urination

• Constipation or heartburn

Just as pregnant woman experiences different symptoms, they also have different levels of skill and expectations when it comes to Yoga. Finding a Yoga instructor who understands their fast-changing anatomy and knows how to adapt poses to fit their specific needs is crucial. Obviously, new Yoga practitioners should take on less intense activity than experienced ones, but anyone can enjoy a Yoga training session with the right poses.

Yoga Practices for the First Trimester

• Meditation

Meditation calms the nervous system, lessens anxiety and decreases pain.

• Pranayama

Gentle breathing exercises release fresh oxygen into the blood stream, lower stress, remove toxins and improve circulation.

• Seated Poses

Reclining Big Toe Pose and Reclining Bound-Angle Pose stretch the hips, hamstrings and thighs but should never strain the abdominal area. Wide-Angle-Seated Forward Bend and Bound Angle Pose widen and prepare the hips for labor and delivery.

• Mild, Modified or Open Twists

Triangle is an example of an open twist and puts no compression on the mid-section. Any twist can be modified or opened (like a triangle) to make room for the baby.

Modified Marichi’s Pose and Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose encourage good posture and relieve achy backs.

• Standing Poses

All three Warrior Poses and Extended Triangle Pose support balance and alignment, especially important during pregnancy. Eagle Pose or Tree Pose can be done during the first trimester to strengthen the pelvic floor and legs but should be done near a wall to prevent falls.

Activities to Avoid during the First Trimester

• Inversions

• Deep twists

• Forward folds

• Jumps

• Rapid breathing

• Intense abdominal work

• Back bends

• Lying on the stomach

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