Congratulations, you are pregnant!
If you have been practicing yoga before your pregnancy, you might be wondering how long you can keep on doing what you do, and when it would be time to start modifying your practice.
A frequent question in yoga classes is if it's safe to do yoga twists during pregnancy.
To Twist or Not?
Twists are great for releasing tension from the entire back, which will also be something you can benefit from during your pregnancy. During your first trimester, your body will pretty much look the same, but although you don't have a belly yet to physically limit you, it does not mean that all twists should remain in your practice.
Your uterus is working hard to make optimal conditions, so anything that might disturb this important process should be avoided. This includes deeper, closed twists where the abdominal area is compressed (such as Half lord of the Fishes Pose). The same goes with similar standing poses, such as Revolved Triangle Pose or Revolved Side Angle Pose.
So when you're in a yoga class, or you practice at home, modify your twists to their more open counterparts. Focus on leaving room for the belly, and twisting from the upper back, shoulders, and neck while the belly and the hips are facing forward.
Some Modifications for Your Twists
To be safe during your pregnancy, here are some open twists you can implement in your practice:
- Cross Legged Twist: This simple twist allows you to leave the stomach area alone, and focus purely on the twist towards the upper torso. Start by sitting cross-legged, inhale your arms up, and on an exhale bring your right arm behind you, and your left arm on your right leg. Twist gently to your right, focusing on twisting from the ribcage, shoulders and neck, leaving the belly pointing forward together with your hips. Stay for 5-6 breaths, and repeat on the other side.
- Open Seated Spinal Twist: You can keep your right leg stretched on the ground, and bend the left knee, bringing the left foot close to the outside of your left hip. Instead of twisting to the left side (closed twist), you can take your left elbow onto the inside of the left knee, and twist yourself towards the right. Place the right hand on the floor behind you. This will keep the twist open and safe.
- Wide-Legged Forward Fold with a Twist: This pose leaves maximum space for the belly, while twisting your shoulders and upper back. Come to a Wide-Legged stance, placing your hands on a block in front so that your back remains straight and long. Bring the left hand onto the block in the center of your feet, twist gently towards the right, and lift up the right arm towards the ceiling. Stay for 2-3 breaths, and change sides.
Enjoy this beautiful time in your life, and make sure to listen to your body every step of the way. Trust the signals it gives you, and always remember to tell a yoga teacher when you are pregnant.