Early in my second trimester, I discovered the awesomeness of prenatal yoga. I had been an occasional practicer for a few years and I knew there were lots of benefits so I really wanted it to become a regular part of my pregnancy fitness routine.
Since then, I’ve kept pretty regular with my practice. When I first started out I was doing four 45-minute sessions a week (I was motivated!), now it’s more like two or three 30- or 45-minutes sessions (my DVD includes routines that are 15-, 30-, 45- and 75-minutes) but I’m still getting it in as much as possible (I’m trying to do more cardio like water aerobics and my elliptical machine plus some walking outside now that the weather is a-maz-ing).
I’m still loving yoga, and still for all the reasons I mentioned back when I started prenatal yoga using the Jennifer Wolfe Prenantal Vinyasa Yoga DVD: it relaxes me while helping me to focus, it gives me a good active stretch and strengthens my core while being low-impact and it makes me feel fluid and graceful while generally making me feel good!
I think I’ve improved my flexibility a lot in the past 14 weeks. My downward dog feels so much more natural. I can push my heels to the floor on the first or second attempt at the pose during a session (before it would take me almost to the end of the session to get my heels on the floor!). I can get my chest a lot closer to my knees, too. I do have to space out my heels a little bit more so my belly has some more room though!
Speaking of flexibility, I can almost get my nose to the floor when I do this sort of half wide-angle pose. My right side is a bit better than my left, but progress is progress! I can touch my toes now too! I could do that no problem when I was taking ballet last year, but I took a break in the fall and then didn’t feel like going back while pregnant (I’m excited to go back in the fall though!) so I’ve gained back some of that lost flexibility!
Besides moving my feet apart more when I do the downward dog, I’ve noticed some other things changing as I grow. Keeping my balance requires a bit more focus. The tree pose is one of my favorites so I will give it all my concentration so that I’m able to hold the pose, raise and lower my arms and not fall down. It’s difficult for me to do big sweeping movements too, especially something like raising my arms into a warrior pose from a deep lunge. One of the recommended modifications is to put your back knee down, raise your arms and then lunge forward on the exhale, so I’ve been doing that a lot (even though it feels like cheating a little bit).
Jennifer Wolfe calls out similar kinds of modifications for each trimester during the session. Since I’m just barely in the third trimester (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself) I try to only do the second trimester modifications, but sometimes I have to cave to the third-tri
cheats adjustments. In a pose like the goddess squat, Jennifer sometimes asks you to rise up onto your toes. I love doing this because I feel like it’s good strengthening for ballet, but I get leg cramps so easily now that I can hardly point my toes at all! So I don’t attempt it anymore. Sad face.
A lot of the books I’ve read include a lot of support for prenatal yoga, and some like Choosing Waterbirth and Active Birth actually have whole chapters devoted to explaining poses. I’m loving that yoga not only makes me feel good during pregnancy but can strengthen me up and give me stamina for the birth, give me a good exercise routine for slowly getting moving again postpartum and help me recover faster because I’m all in shape and stuff! Yay extra bonuses!
Finally, I leave you with another one of my favorites, pigeon, in which I can get my nose on the floor now! On both sides! I’m going to be more constrained by my belly than my flexibility pretty soon!