Best Yoga Poses for the First Trimester of Pregnancy
During the first trimester, you should be able to continue practicing as normal. That is given that you are feeling fine and your pregnancy is developing with no complications.
Yet, it’s good to be aware of the changes that are happening in your body and how to start adapting your yoga practice to accommodate a new life.
The Changes in Your Body during the First Trimester
The first trimester is the period of your pregnancy until the end of week 12.
On the outside, not much is still seen. Your breasts will likely increase in size and you may start showing by the end of the first trimester. But for the most part, many won’t even notice that you are pregnant.
However, most of the changes are happening on the inside as your body adapts to house a tiny human.
Your body is releasing pregnancy hormones that are affecting almost all of your body. Your blood volume will start increasing to provide enough oxygen and nutrients for the baby. This will increase your heart rate, drop your blood pressure, and make your kidneys work harder. And that means – very frequent bathroom breaks.
Your breasts will be swollen and feel tender. Increased levels of progesterone will make you fatigued and sleepy, and relaxin will start loosening your joints in preparation for delivery.
You may experience morning sickness. (Seriously, who thought of naming this morning sickness??? All-day sickness would have been so much more accurate.) You may also start craving certain foods and be repelled by others. It is also possible that you will experience digestive issues and headaches.
Last but not least, hormones will not leave your emotions unattended. Moods swings are very common.
Some women feel great and don’t experience much of a difference. Others, however (me, for instance), can go through a very rough time.
Your Baby’s Development in the First Trimester
The first three months of pregnancy are crucial for the developing baby. From a single fertilized cell your baby will take the shape of a tiny human roughly the size of a lime by the end of the first trimester.
Your baby’s heart, bones, brain, skin and nails, eyes, muscles, and digestive system will start forming throughout this period.
Best Yoga Poses for the First Trimester
In the first trimester, you should be able to practice as usual without any major issues. Though, depending on how you are feeling, some poses may be more enjoyable than others.
As you practice either in class or at home, listen to your body and don’t hesitate to modify your practice accordingly. If something does not feel right, there is no need to do it. And vice versa. It’s also a good idea to inform your yoga instructor that you are pregnant.
Sometimes, you may not feel like practicing at all, and there is absolutely no shame in that.
But, if you feel like getting on the mat, here are some of my favorite picks for poses that I find useful for the first trimester.
1. Mountain Pose
Mountain Pose may seem very basic. It may feel like you aren’t actually doing anything special. Yet, if it’s done correctly and you’ve aligned and engaged your muscles properly, there is a lot going on.
One of the main benefits of Mountain Pose is that it helps you to develop a good posture. You can develop the muscle strength and awareness needed to properly align your body even when you’re not on the mat.
Many people do not have a good posture because of a variety of reasons. This can be a sedentary job, spending lots of time driving in a poor position, and even wearing high heels on a daily basis. This can not only modify the natural alignment of our bones but can also weaken the core muscles and put unnecessary strain on the connective tissues such as your linea alba.
As the belly expands during pregnancy, the gravity center shifts. And if the woman does not have strong core support, this can make her less stable, put a strain on the lower back, as well as contribute to the development of diastasis recti.
Mountain Pose requires you to pay attention to how you stack your body parts on top of each other and engage the core muscles. Increasing this strength and awareness can help you to maintain a better posture and reduce the discomfort such as lower back pain that you may experience later in pregnancy.
Feel free to close your eyes and spend some extra moments in Mountain Pose.
A common warm-up staple, this is actually a combination of two poses. You do Cow Pose as you inhale and Cat Pose as you exhale.
Cat-cows can help you to relieve back pain, engage your deep core muscles, and also increase the mobility of your pelvis. During delivery, your pelvic bones move to allow your baby to pass through. Greater range of motion can make it much easier.
If you feel particularly strong and energetic, try lifting your knees as you arch your back on the exhales. That will give your core some extra work.
3. Warrior Poses
Warrior I, II, and III are excellent for strengthening and mobilizing the hips. They can also help you to strengthen the legs, ankles, and develop the tiny muscles in your feet. These will make you feel more stable and stronger when carrying the increasing weight as well as aid in delivery.
Lunges and Lizards are beneficial for increasing hip mobility as well.
4. Balancing Poses
Balancing can get increasingly tricky as the pregnancy progresses. Therefore, including balancing yoga poses in the first-trimester practice can prove to be especially beneficial later on.
Draw attention to your feet. Lift and spread your toes as wide as you can. Then, place them back down before entering balancing yoga poses. There are lots of muscles in the feet. This will help you activate them and develop strength in them which can later mean better balance.
Great balancing yoga poses for the first trimester of pregnancy can be Tree Pose, Eagle Pose, and Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose. Use a strap or adopt any other modifications if necessary. Feel free to practice them against the wall or use a chair as a prop if you feel wobbly.
5. Butterfly Pose
Learn to love hip openers during pregnancy. They can help you to increase flexibility in your hips and allow more mobility in the pelvic floor. More range of motion in the hips can make delivery easier.
Try lifting your pelvic floor as you inhale in this yoga pose. Make sure to completely release it on exhales though.
Other great hip-opening yoga poses for the first trimester are Malasana and Wide-Legged Forward Fold (both standing and seated). These are great for releasing the pelvic floor muscles.
While having a strong pelvic floor is a good thing, being able to relax it is equally as important. Having tight pelvic floor muscles can prevent you from being able to relax and may make delivery longer and harder.
Be aware of your increased flexibility due to pregnancy hormones and do not overstretch yourself in these yoga poses.
6. Prone and Supine Poses
The first trimester is still the time when you can lay on your back and belly. Enjoy
Yoga poses such as Reclined Butterfly, Reclined Hand-to-Big-Toe-Pose, and Reclined Figure 4 can be good to relieve lower back tension and work on hip mobility. Happy Baby is another yoga pose that can help you with the above as well as aid you in relaxing your pelvic floor muscles.
Sphinx and Cobra Pose can help with back pain and open the chest.
Avoid poses that put lots of pressure on the lower abdomen such as Locust or Bow Pose.
You may not feel well enough to practice inversions. Or simply not feel like doing them. That’s where Legs-up-the-Wall can be an excellent alternative. You can also relieve some tension from your legs and increase blood flow to the uterus.
If you’d like to work on your strength, practice this yoga pose without the wall. Simply keep your legs at a 90-degree angle and flex your feet. Or you can prop yourself against the wall. You can place a blanket under your head and upper body or under your hips if that feels good.
Yoga Poses to Avoid in the First Trimester
While most yoga poses should still be fine, start avoiding Bow and Locust Pose as well as closed twists.
Go easy on backbends such as Camel Pose and Full Wheel Pose. They can overstretch your abdominal muscles and put too much strain on the connective tissues.
You still may be able to practice these yoga poses in the first trimester without any problems. But start gradually making changes. This can make it easier to modify your practice later in your pregnancy.
Are you in your first trimester of pregnancy? Do you practice yoga? Which poses do you enjoy most?