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Pregnancy Yoga in First Trimester - Benefits, Poses, and Considerations

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Yoga during the first trimester has numerous benefits for the mother and the developing fetus. Read the article to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Shakti Mishra

Published At January 25, 2023
Reviewed AtJune 12, 2023

Introduction

Pregnancy is an exciting yet delicate phase, particularly demanding throughout the first trimester or the first three months. The body is constantly working on putting together a life-support system for the baby. With various hormonal, physical, and psychological changes, it can be challenging for women to cope with the associated stress. Hence, practicing yoga throughout pregnancy can help ease the stress and provide additional benefits to both - the mother and the developing fetus.

What Is Prenatal Yoga?

An effective form of exercise, prenatal yoga includes various effective approaches to engage the health of the mother and the developing fetus via gentle exercises. It consists of flexible workout strategies that challenge the body and mind. Prenatal yoga emphasizes developing a deeper awareness of breath, along with gentle stretching, strengthening, and mental grounding. Additionally, it also helps keep pregnant women in shape and flexible. When combined with cardiovascular workouts, such as walking and jogging, it also helps tone muscles of the body and enhances blood circulation in the body, which is beneficial for both - the expectant mother and the developing fetus.

What Are the Differences Between Prenatal Yoga and Regular Yoga?

Both prenatal and regular yoga is almost similar, with the only exception that poses, twists, and bends which might directly compress the stomach, are avoided. Prenatal yoga also centralizes greater emphasis on breathing and stretching, making the expectant mother stronger for labor.

What Are the Benefits of Doing Yoga in the First Trimester of Pregnancy?

There are several benefits of doing yoga in the first trimester of pregnancy, such as:

  • Helps improve sleep.

  • Curbs anxiety and stress.

  • Reduces lower back pain, headaches, and nausea.

  • Enhances the strength, flexibility, and endurance of the muscles.

  • Helps improve breathing.

  • Improves blood circulation in the body.

  • Helps keep the body healthy by keeping body weight in check.

What Should Pregnant Women Keep In Mind While Doing Yoga in the First Trimester of Pregnancy?

Expectant mothers should always be considerate of the following things while doing yoga during the first trimester of pregnancy.

  1. Always Learn and Practice Yoga From a Qualified and Trained Practitioner - The first trimester of pregnancy is a very delicate phase of pregnancy and requires women to be extra cautious. A qualified practitioner not only helps prevent accidents but also makes the entire process of yoga seem seamless. This is even more important for women trying yoga for the first time.

  2. Continue Yoga Throughout the Period of Pregnancy - Yoga is not only beneficial for the first trimester but also has numerous benefits for the second and third trimesters as well.

  3. Be Kind and Easy on the Body - Pregnancy involves several changes and implications in the body. Every day, the body accommodates the growing fetus, and women can encounter all sorts of changes, from hormonal to physical. Hence, taking small steps and easing into yoga slowly yet steadily is important.

  4. Avoid Fretting and Accommodate as per the Needs of the Body and the Fetus - Women should avoid certain postures and accommodate the needs of their body and the fetus. They should ensure that they avoid sudden twists, turns, bends, and inversions, as they can compress the uterus and stretch the muscles of the abdomen.

  5. Trust the Process - Practicing yoga needs time and dedication. Women may not achieve the desired results instantly, but with time, it provides great benefits to both - the mother and the fetus.

Which Yoga Poses Can Pregnant Women Benefit From During the First Trimester of Pregnancy?

There are a variety of yoga poses and postures that women can attempt during the first trimester of pregnancy. A few of them include the following:

  • Gentle Neck and Shoulder Rolls - Kantha and Skandha Sanchalana: This pose helps women release stress from the back of the head, shoulder, and neck region. Women are required to roll their heads in back and forth motion, moving in circles, clockwise and counterclockwise directions. Along with the movement of the head, similar movements should be made with the shoulder to ease the tension from the shoulder and neck region. Each movement should be performed at least three times.

  • Half Butterfly - Ardha Titali Asana or Ardha Baddha Konasana: Practicing this pose helps women by improving their blood circulation. It also strengthens the pelvic region. For this pose, women should stretch out their legs as they sit and place their right foot, as far as possible, on the left thigh. Then, the toes of the left foot are held with the left hand, whereas the right hand is placed on top of the right-folded knee. With regular and gentle breaths, the right knee is pulled closer to the chest while releasing every breath. In contrast, with every inhaled breath, the knee is gently placed forwards, pushing it against the floor. Similar movements are also repeated on the left side.

  • Full Butterfly - Poorna Titali Asana or Baddha Konasana: This pose is similar to the half-butterfly pose but engages both sides together at the same time. It helps loosen the hip joint and increases blood circulation to the pelvic region. For this pose, women should sit with their legs outstretched and should place their feet against each other, relaxing their inner thighs. The heels should be placed as close to the body as possible. By holding both feet by hand, both knees on either side should be bounced in back and forth direction, with elbows placed against the legs. This pose is usually repeated 20 to 30 times.

  • Cat Stretch Pose -Marjariasana: This pose can only be practiced for the first and second trimesters of pregnancy and helps tone the muscles of the back, neck, shoulder, and reproductive system. This pose requires women to stand like a cat with the help of their palms and knees, placing them apart from each other (at least at the width of their hips). With every inhalation, raise the head slowly, creating an arc in the spine towards the floor. Similarly, with every exhalation, the chin should be brought closer to the chest, arching the spine upwards. Without exertion, this pose should be repeated five to ten times.

Which Yoga Poses Should Women Avoid During the First Trimester of Pregnancy?

To prevent harm to the developing fetus, pregnant women should avoid any pose that involves the following:

  • Breathing exercises involve holding the breath for a longer duration.

  • Forceful breaths.

  • Proning or lying down on the stomach.

  • Inversions, otherwise known as upside-down postures.

  • Bending of the back.

  • Strong and sudden twists.

  • Stretches that require excess effort.

  • Postures that put both the mother and the baby under strain.

Under What Conditions Should Women in the First Trimester of Pregnancy Stop Practicing Yoga?

In most women, prenatal yoga does not cause any distress. However, women should stop practicing yoga if any of the following signs and symptoms are elicited:

  • Excess nausea.

  • Dehydration.

  • Breathlessness.

  • Unexplained pain in the chest, pelvic and abdominal region.

  • Unexplained vaginal discharge, bleeding, or spotting.

  • Fatigue.

Conclusion

Practicing yoga, in general, has numerous benefits, but when practiced during pregnancy, it can do wonders for both - the mother and the developing baby. Although the first trimester of pregnancy is a delicate phase, and the majority of miscarriages occur in this phase, yoga can still be incorporated into the daily lifestyle of expecting women. It is essential to research well and practice under a certified trainer to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks. Yoga can provide not only physical advantages but also provide psychological benefits.

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Shakti Mishra
Shakti Mishra

Nutritionist

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