Though it was almost 18 years ago, I still remember the moments after finding out I was pregnant with my first daughter. I walked the streets of Brooklyn to an inner soundtrack playing “What A Difference A Day Makes”, floating in a state of complete bewilderment. In truth, what a difference a moment makes—the moment when you find out you’re pregnant, your life has completely changed. Nothing is the same, and that includes your yoga practice.
There are shifts in hormones, emotions, and your physical self. These changes are exciting (they mean your babe is healthily on the way!), but can be can also be quite intimidating. You may wonder how your new body and new baby will affect your yoga practice, specifically if you’ll have time, or be able to do the same poses you could before finding out about your little bundle of joy. Below you’ll find some tips and insight on how you can positively shift your relationship with yoga as you journey from pregnancy to parenthood.
In your early days of pregnancy, excitement, trepidation, and joy may be the first signs of your rapidly changing emotions. Pay attention to these shifts. This in itself makes you a masterful practitioner of mindfulness and provides valuable lessons for parenting.
During the first trimester, it’s important to tune in to these changes. You’re in a gathering phase. Allow yourself to feel. Notice when you need movement and tune into when you need rest. Start releasing attachment to what your yoga practice “should” look like and start embracing that yoga is a balance of steadiness and ease. Discover relaxation in the effort.
Emphasize pranayama, meditation, and take embodied “tours” through your body. Activate your third eye energy to envision your baby growing with grace. Remind yourself that every cell in your body knows how to create and gestate life. Practice restoratives and deepen your trust in your body and the great miracle of your pregnancy.
As your pregnancy progresses, your postures will require modification. Give yourself permission to have more space between the feet, widen your legs in your forward folds, and minimize dizziness by taking your time in transitions. Even though you may need to slow down and take your time, your second trimester is ironically when you may feel more energized and vibrant.
Starting your second trimester forward, Relaxin (the hormone that helps the ligaments around your pelvis relax so that the pelvic bones can open and your baby can be born) begins to slow and ease all the ligaments and tendons within the body.
For some, this may be a temporary experience of hypermobility. Although you may be a super limber pretzel, don’t push yourself when stretching, twisting, and back bending. Allow this season of your practice to emphasize stability, endurance (good practice for both the birth experience and parenting), breath mastery, and mental focus.
Say hello to bigger boobs, a bigger belly, and shortened space for the breath! All three of these things require that you continue to modify your postures (shifting to side-lying savasana or restorative relaxations with blocks and blankets), and also consider using props such as a chair, hula hoop, or ballet bar to assist with your shifting balance. Include a range of motion exercises—point and flex your ankles, rotate your ankles and wrists, practice seated spinal rotations (Sufi “Grind”)—to create space, minimize swelling, and support circulation.
Overall, add more circular, gyroscopic, and gentle undulating movements into your practice. Allow yourself to enter sensual, meditative spaces where you feel in total harmony with your mind and body. Be sure to sound, groan, and release tension by relaxing your jaw and staying close to the earth.
The third trimester is a wonderful period to increase the time you spend meditating. Allow your meditations to be a preparation for what some moms may experience as a “marathon” birth and what we all hope to endure—a lifetime of living love through parenting. (The meditation below is designed to open your heart chakra, and incredibly beneficial for moms and moms-to-be who would like to tap into their changing emotions.)
Address your fears. Write them down. Speak them out loud. Talk to your baby and listen to the wisdom they have to share with you. Visualize your ideal birth experience and see yourself welcoming your baby into the world.
Birth & “The Fourth Trimester”
Meet your baby and allow all your senses to be online and present. Spend intentional moments together where your baby can take in your smell, the feel of your breath and touch, and the sound of your voice. This in itself is a form of meditation.
The fourth trimester is known as the time from when your baby is born to when he or she is about three months old. This is when you become a master of tantric eye gazing with endless hours of unwavering eye contact and assessments of your baby’s breath cycles and body temperature. Continue to practice pranayama—it helps you stay in tune with your recovering body. If you’ve returned to your traditional yoga practice, it likely looks much, much different. Take comfort in the fact that you are still practicing “real” yoga. Parenting is the yoga of moment to moment awareness. The royal path of meditation. The path of surrender.
If you feel you can focus to read (sometimes postpartum hormone fluctuations can make it challenging to focus on anything but your baby), try The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the eightfold path highlighting non-violence, non-grasping, and preservation of energy. You can always listen via audio as well.
Your Practice Now
Be gentle with yourself—you’ll know when it is time to return to a more dynamic yoga practice. Find ways to include your baby in your practice and if you can, allow the loves in your life to help you with babycare so you can nurture your essence as a woman. Ask for and receive support. You are worthy! Get help when you need help and know that it’s okay to cry—healthy, even.
When in doubt, remember that your body just did something amazing. It’s okay if you look and move differently. You’re a warrior, mama goddess capable of love, balance, and flexibility. You’ve got this.
Jocelyn Gordon is a Women’s Health Coach specializing in Pre-Conception Preparation, Fertility Optimization, Joyful Pregnancy and Peaceful Birth. She’s also the Creatress of two ecstatic embodiment practices that merge yoga with dance, prayer and mindfulness meditation – HoopYogini™ and Bhakti Boogie® Yoga. Jocelyn helps women and couples up-level their health and consciousness before conception and during pregnancy, and she also mentors yoga teachers and holistic entrepreneurs in birthing their dream life, teacher training or book. Connect with Jocelyn on her website, Facebook, and Instagram.