During the first trimester of pregnancy, a woman must focus on accepting change, nurturing yourself and creating strength to help support her unborn child. At this time hormone levels are strong and a woman’s emotions are in a state of turmoil and so are her energy levels. So when practicing yoga during pregnancy, go slow, breathe deeply and try to set strong foundations for yoga practise that will help you through the rest of your pregnancy period. I am showing below some postures that can be practised during the first trimester. Do a few rounds of gentle Surya Namaskar to get your body warmed up. Always make it a point to relax whenever you feel the need and after a full session lie down in Shavasana. This will reinforce the benefits of all the physical work that you have done.
If you are practising this pose for the first time, you may be surprised at how tight your hips feel. This is because spending a lot of time sitting makes the knees stiff and the ligaments and ligaments around your hips tight and also makes your knees stiff. Practing Butterfly will increase the flexibility of these areas and will in turn help you when you are giving birth.
1. Sit straight on the floor. Put your hands behind you to support you, bend your knees and try to bring the soles of your feet close together. Gradually let your knees open outwards, so that your legs form a diamond-like shape. And never over strain!
2. Move your hands forwards and sit up. Lean forward and interlock your fingers under both feet, pressing your soles together.
3. Inhale and stretch your spine and let your knees gently press down. Relax and gently flap your knees a few time like a butterfly’s wings.
4. To deepen the pose, exhale and lean gently forwards, pressing your knees down and outwards. Hold for several breaths at your deepest stretch, then release as you inhale. Repeat again.
Hip Rolls Variation 1
This is a forward-backward hip motion that will release tension from your hips and lower back and bring a greater sense of awareness to your pelvic muscles. It is a good pose to do throughout your pregnancy in preparation for labour.
- Sit upright in Butterfly pose as shown above. Place a cushion or folded blanket under your knees for comfort if required. Place your hands about 10 inches behind you on the floor, with your fingers turned outwards.
- Inhale and push your chest up and at the same time pull your shoulders back and downwards, letting your hips tilt back so that you feel the sitting bones press back and down.
- Exhale and let your pelvis rock forwards, gently draw your chest and shoulders forwards and relax your pelvic muscles. Repeat several times.
Hip Rolls Variation 2
This posture has a circular hip motion involved which will open up your hip and pelvic area and help you through any places of tightness and increase your flexibility. Make sure that you are breathing deeply as you move through the hip rolls.
- Sit straight in Butterfly as shown above. Place your hands about 6 inches behind you on the floor, with your hands turned outwards.
- Relax your hips so your pelvis is tilted under. Your shoulders should be slightly lifted upwards to begin with.
- Inhale and move your upper body to the left direction as your hips rock to the right. Then move slowly in a clockwise direction.
- Exhale and move your upper body to the right, as your hips rock to the left. Continue to move in a clockwise direction. Repeat thrice.
Your shoulders and neck areas are usually under a lot of stress. This pose will loosen up your shoulders and help you to release stress. You can do this sitting or standing. Interlace your hands as shown here. Repeat with both hands.
This is another shoulder and neck loosening posture. Inhale, Stretch your hands above your head as shown in the picture and then move to the right. Exhale and then come to the beginning position. Repeat to the other side. Repeat this about 5 times.
The cat pose or Matsyasana is excellent for relieving tension in the back, neck and shoulders and to keep the pelvic muscles well tones, supple and strong.
- Kneel on all fours with knees directly under hips and wrists under your shoulders. Palms are flat out on the floor and fingers pointing forward. Relax your back and let it hang limp. Imagine yourself to be a hammock.
- Exhale and tilt your pelvis inwards and under and tuck your chin in and arch your back.
- Come back to neutral position.
This pose will help you to stretch your hamstring muscles and the outer area of your hips and buttocks and relieve pressure around your back and also open up your chest, shoulder and arms. This pose is ideal to practise in the first trimester when you bust and your baby bump are smaller – and also through the rest of your pregnancy if you are enjoying it’s benefits.
- Sit in a cross-legged, straight position, and place your hands about about 8 inches behind you and lean backwards.
- Place your knees as shown in the picture below.
- With your hips stable, sit straight, inhale and raise your left arm up above your head.
- Inhale, bring your right arm behind your lower back. Exhale and gently touch your hands and finger. Clasp your fingers if you can. Repeat for the other side.
This is a pose that will stretch and strengthen your back and ab muscles. It is also effective for stimulating the thyroid gland which can become unbalanced during pregnancy. Regular practise of this pose will help you regulate your metabolism.
- Lie on your back, with your arms close to your body, palms facing downwards. Bend your legs so that your feet are flat on the floor.
- Inhale, then exhale and slowly raise your hips and upper back as shown in the pic below. Exhale and interlace your fingers, keeping your arms on the floor.
- Inhale, raise your chest and pull your shoulders down. Gently press your chin down to lengthen your neck and form a slight chin lock. Hold for several breaths, focusing on the opening of your front and your pelvic floor, before you exhale and release.
This is a variation of the regular Shoulderstand ideal for pregnancy. This pose has a lot of benefits chief among them is the effect of releasing pressure on the back, hips and legs apart from improving circulation to the legs and pelvis and helping relax the mind and body.
- Gently lie on your back, close to a wall and lift your legs up onto the wall. Press your feet into the wall, lift your hips slightly and keep a cushion under your hips to make you more comfortable.
- Relax your head, neck and shoulders with hands facing downwards. Breathe deeply and relax.
- Release your arms to their original position, by the body, after several breaths.
- If you are comfortable with this and feeling strong, inhale, push your feet firmly into the wall and, keeping your knees bent, press your hips forwards, so you have a slight chin lock and your back is relatively straight. Hold for several comfortable breaths, then release.
This pose stretches the throat and the chest and helps to promote easier breathing. This pose also helps to stimulate the thyroid gland, which is great for regulating metabolism and energy levels.
- Lie on your back and knees bent and toes pointing forwards.
- Place a rolled up towel or blanket sideways under your middle back.
- Exhale, then inhale and arch your back aiming to gently rest the crown of your head on the floor, using your back muscles and elbows to support the arch of your spine.
- If you can do this comfortably, let your knees gently open to the sides in Butterfly Pose. Blocks or supports can be placed under your knees for more comfort if needed. Inhale and expand your chest fully and let the throat open. Exhale and relax your hips, pelvis and lower back. Hold for several breaths. Slowly raise your knees up, with the weight on your elbows and slowly release your head. Remove the back support, extend your legs, lie flat and relax.
This pose is called the Happy Pose because your infant will naturally start doing it when he / she is four or five months old. This pose will help to create an opening in the hip and pelvic area and release pressure on the lower back and also open up the chest.
- Lie on your back and gently bend your knees and lift them to either side of your torso.2 Inhale and grip the outsides of your feet with your hands as shown in the pic.3 Hold for several comfortable breaths, then release.
Note: If it is difficult to reach your feet, place a yoga strap or towel around each foot and hold the ends with each hand.
I will soon be writing articles on yoga poses for second and third trimester of pregnancy. And always remember to never overstrain while doing any of these poses. Take care!
Dhara is a dedicated and highly passionate yoga instructor from Mumbai who trains our clients personally as well as in group classes. Dhara also helps conduct yoga classes and sessions for kids (Age groups 5-9 and 9-14) which include Asanas, meditation, breathing, basic and simple yogic concepts to help them grow into beautiful adults. Dhara is also an avid practitioner of Reiki, The Art of Living & Vipasana Meditation apart from Crystal Healing & Meditation techniques and incorporates all of her multifaceted skills into her yoga classes and sessions as and when required. And she also takes time out to write for the Wellintra Fitness Blog whenever she can!