Category Archives: pregnancy

Yoga in the first trimester


Yoga in Pregnancy and Beyond – The First Trimester


In this article, we will focus on the first trimester. Later articles will look at the second, third and fourth trimesters, and tackle other common ailments and issues encountered in pregnancy.

This is a remarkable and potentially transformative time in a woman’s life. Alongside the visible signs of the changes in a woman’s body, she experiences a heady cocktail of oestrogen, progesterone, relaxin, oxytocin, endorphins and prolactin.

Essential for maintaining pregnancy and stimulating the healthy development of the baby, progesterone and oestrogen play numerous other roles in pregnancy. However, these essential hormones are often responsible for mood swings and morning sickness; which often ease as mothers enter the second trimester. Sufficient rest in the first trimester can help alleviate these usually harmless complaints.

Relaxin softens the muscles, ligaments and joints in preparation for birth. This softening creates increased flexibility in the hips and pelvis: over-stretching can result in joint instability, leading to discomfort and pain. The softening also affects other areas of the body. Caution is advised against over-extending in all poses; encourage gentle stretching with an emphasis on creating stability in stillness, freedom and ease in movement.

Some of the simplest practices can be the most powerful at a time when many women are beginning to examine their emotional and spiritual health in more depth, even as they encounter new physical challenges.

  • Simple breath awareness: you no doubt have your own version of this practice and as long as there is no breath retention, you can do this. Simply watching our breath can encourage deeper, slower, more rhythmic breathing resulting in better oxygenation, more efficient digestion as a result of the massaging effect of the movement of the diaphragm, and steadying of the heart rate. Breath awareness may also help women to navigate bouts of nausea and allow them to feel refreshed after any vomiting
  • Nadi Sodhana Pranayama (no breath retention): this calming, balancing breath may enable women to manage mood swings with grace and can be safely practised throughout pregnancy;
  • Tiryaka Tadasana (swaying palm tree pose, no breath retention): women can remain on the soles of their feet or lift onto the toes if they feel adequately balanced – see pictures. Inhale to the centre line, exhale to lengthen and open one side of the body. The gentle stretch to the abdomen helps to lift the ribcage, creating length in the rectus abdominal muscles (so may also help prevent diastasis recti), and helping to alleviate heartburn and indigestion by reducing compression of the stomach;Tiryaki Tadasana PG
  • The Golden Triangle: assuming no other ailments, this enable a woman to maintain a stable, aligned pelvis throughout pregnancy. Even long standing practitioners are well-advised to ensure that in wide-leg poses, the space between their knees is no wider than the space from hip to knee, or elbow to fingertips – see pictures.
  • Deep relaxation: during the first trimester, most mothers will still be comfortable resting supine, and may safely do so. Use your own tried and tested relaxations, explore the Yoga Nidra Network for free downloads or visit your own trusted source;
  • Many women will begin to explore their emotional and spiritual landscapes during pregnancy, I encourage you to create a list of pregnancy specific resources you can explore. I have included below a few websites and a poem to get you started. And I urge you to read Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin – more on her later in the series.

If you have a particular question about yoga for pregnancy, please don’t hesitate to post it in the comments section or get in touch directly.


Chant of the Pregnant Goddess
by Jana McCarthy (found at twincitiesmidwifery)
I am the mother of the moon
sister of the stars
child of the light in your eyes.
I am powerful.
The geometry of my shape shifts
from gently curved lines
to expanding circles:
earth, moon, sun.
I am powerful.
I am strong.
The tempo of my vibration quickens,
increasing from
butterfly wings, to floundering fish,
to beating drum,
erupting volcano,
the rhythm as old and constant as
the cycles of the sun
and the turn of the tides.

I am powerful.
I am strong.
I am beautiful.

I hold the hope of my ancestors
the knowledge of my time
the fate of my future.

I am powerful.
I am strong.
I am beautiful.
I am mother.


Golden Triangle PG