The other week, after my yoga class, a young lady asked me – after seeing my now very obvious 6 ½ months pregnant belly – if I had just came out of the class. After I answered yes she said that she was in her first trimester and although she had been doing yoga regularly for years, she was not sure if she should get an unlimited pass for the next few months. That’s when it hit me that in all the “fitness” classes I have taken in the past 4 years only once I have seen a noticeable pregnant woman. Is it coincidence? Are woman fearful of endangering the pregnancy if they exercise? Or are they concerned with how they look?
Before my first pregnancy, I was doing Pilates and weights 3 to 4 times a week. When I found out I was pregnant I did a fair bit of research and talked to my doctor. The general consensus is that if your health provider is OK, exercise is highly recommended during pregnancy. It can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, improve sleep, and even lessen the symptoms of postpartum depression. Also, because I was exercising pre-pregnancy, I could continue to workout at the same level while pregnant, well, at least until breathlessness and the growing belly started getting in the way.
During these 2 pregnancies it was easy to recognize when Pilates and weights had to give way to deep-water fitness. Yoga is still present and I find it fascinating how every week new adjustments have to be made to accommodate the growing belly. Some poses become harder or downright impossible – uttanasana and chaturanga comes to mind – while others bring a huge relief to the hip joints and lower back. For me the best is feeling the baby move around during savasana after being quiet during the vinyasas. And yes, being extra self-aware of my pregnancy does happen, especially when you are the only one around, and everyone is twisting to the left while you have to twist to right. A small price to pay for feeling splendid afterwards.
Our bodies are an unbelievable miracle and, personally, yoga truly nurtures and supports my body and mind during these ever-changing 38+ weeks. My two cents: Surround yourself by knowledgeable and caring teachers (thanks Nova Yoga!), be kind to your body, and have fun!
P.S. A big thanks to Susan, aka the Office Yogi, for the photos. We were surprised how hard it was to show the actually size of my belly in certain yoga poses but we tried!