Guidelines for pregnancy
Being pregnant or preparing for pregnancy is a time of reflection, re-evaluation of priorities and re-assessment of one´ s lifestyle.
According to Ayurveda, it´ s essential to bring yourself - mind and body- into a state of balance, prior to getting pregnant. Lifestyle modifications include not only eating healthy sattvic diet, but also spending time in environments and with people that support a state of harmony and general well-being. Practices like time in nature, meditation, pranayama exercises, gentle yoga, reading uplifting books, listening to sattvic music are very useful wellness tools for a mother-to-be. Another important thing to keep in mind is to (re)connect with your body. Listen to your body and do things that really makes you happy - from eating what you naturally desire (of course, in moderation), to taking a nap when you need one and spending time with kind people doing things you love.
When it is about food, non-processed, seasonal, whole food is always a good choice. Plant-based, warm, freshly cooked meals are supporting you the best in this period. Healthy choices for cooking are olive oil and ghee. Avoid chemical flavors, preservatives, additives and under-cooked/overcooked foods or leftovers.
According to Ayurveda, a good immunity booster is warm milk with a tsp of ghee. You can also add a bit of organic honey, or a few dates, for a more enjoyable taste. Have it even twice a day, if you like it. Warm milk is also calming and the calmer the mother-to-be, the calmer and happier the baby.
If confronted with morning sickness, try these remedies: fennel tea (fennel seeds and hot water), dry toast, a pinch of roasted cardamom seeds-powder. Also sleeping in a semi-reclined position might help.
While resting is extremely important, exercising too is something you want to remember. Yoga is one of the best ways to stay balanced - mind and body.
These days there is quite a lot of scientific data about the positive influence yoga has on mental and physical health and general well-being. However, when pregnant, as well as before and after pregnancy, it is always a good idea to ask advice from a yoga therapist or a specialized yoga teacher.
Every pregnancy is unique, therefore the same practices might not work the same way for everybody. You want your practice to be tailored up to your individual needs, age, experience with yoga, overall physical condition, lifestyle, mental health, etc.
Here is a few guidelines for practicing pregnancy-yoga:
First trimester of pregnancy is usually a delicate period, when miscarriage is possible. If you are new to yoga, better take a specialized class or consult a yoga therapist, than taking the risk to start with a regular yoga class. Be gentle with yourself and take into consideration possible nausea and fatigue! Don´ t over work and stay hydrated! Listen to your body and rest more! Try modified poses, keep legs hip width apart in standing postures and wide open in forward bends. Make space for the belly from the beginning - for example practice open legged child pose. Do not lay on the belly. Avoid excessive twisting, strong back-bends and inversions. Listen to your intuition, rest often, drink enough water and don´ t get too hot.
Second trimester: You may notice that you have more energy now. However, refrain from working too hard! Your center of gravity and ability to balance may change from day to day. Also, as pregnancy progresses, abdominal muscles stretch to make room for the baby, therefore asanas that stretch the muscles even further are not very beneficial in this stage. Beneficial poses in this period are asanas that gently tighten the abdomen (done with caution!), standing poses, shoulder and hip openers, leg strengtheners, Pelvic-floor exercises and breathing practices. For example a safe exercise is leg lifts laying down knees slightly bent. You can also safely do the boat pose one leg at a time and/or supporting the leg with your hand. Have your Savasana better lying on the left side, than on your back.
Third trimester: Some days you will have energy to practice and other days you won´ t. Focus on relaxation techniques. Restorative yoga helps to calm the mind and connect with your baby. Because of your growing baby, lying flat on your back is not a good idea. The growing weight of the uterus may press on the vena cava and possibly disturb the blood flow to you and your baby. To avoid compression, place a few blankets under your head and upper back. An optimal resting position is on your left side. Modify poses using props and avoid to overstretch! Be kind with yourself!
A few more things:
Pregnancy is not a very good time for inversions. They are considered risky due to the unnaturalness of the position. For safety reasons, regular inversions should better be avoided all together. On the other hand, modified inversions can relieve swelling and constipation (caused by pressure of uterus on intestines). Good example of safe inversion: supported half shoulder stand or legs on the wall -position.
Pranayama, restorative poses, relaxation techniques and visualization are the most effective practices in pregnancy and post pregnancy period. You might also gain great benefits from an Ayurveda consultation, since it will provide you with important lifestyle and general well-being tips & tricks. According to Ayurveda, you are now "hosting" 2 mind-body types (your dosha and the baby´ s) and after the fourth month your cravings might be actually not yours, but the baby´ s.
In pregnancy relaxation poses should be done on the side of the body (preferably the left side) because major blood vessels can be compressed by the weight of the uterus, if one lies too long on the back. Incorrect position can cause discomfort and nausea.
Practicing visualization and relaxation techniques can be done sitting comfortably on a chair or a pillow. Relaxation, enhancing the body-mind connection and learning comfortable poses is extremely beneficial for the process of accommodating a new human being, first in one´ s womb and then in one´ s life. A relaxed mind trusts the pregnancy to develop naturally and a relaxed body allows the nature to work at its best. Enjoy this special time in your life!
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