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General Precautions and First Trimester Adaptations to Ashtanga Yoga for Pregnancy

By Arielle Nash – Degagne

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**Please note:
These are General Guidelines for Ashtanga and Primary Series Asana- every woman is different, and every pregnancy is different.  Although we practice within a system, every practitioner’s practice is also different, this will be a time where a woman’s practice may be different every single day.
Encourage women to listen to their body and use practice as a means of deeper connection with their body and baby.  Encourage women to invite their baby to practice with them.

General Precautions:

  • practice in a cooler space, or request a space by an open window or door – prevent overheating
  • drink fluids during practice to prevent dehydration
  • if dizzy, stop immediately and rest, do not proceed until complete normalcy has returned
  • Any positions that compress the uterus and create discomfort should be avoided or modified (i.e. lotus + forward bending, Janu C
  • If nauseous, women should avoid changing positions rapidly
  • Monitor energy level and fatigue throughout the day and adjust practice accordingly
  • Intake of nutrients and rehydrate immediately following practice
  • Notify teacher
  • Avoid any asana that feels uncomfortable.
  • Never hold breath, this will starve baby of oxygen (includes pranayama retention)
  • Never perform uddiyana bhanda kriya
  • If cramping or bleeding is present, stop immediately and notify health care provider
  • If headache begins during practice, stop immediately
  • Never practice a new advanced asana.
  • Due to high progesterone and relaxin levels, ligaments can be easily damaged by overstretching, maintain moderate position, never stretch to maximum.
  • Deep twisting at the level of the waist is to be approached with caution, do not practice if it compresses the uterus
  • Jump backs and jump through should be avoided if there is a history of miscarriage, this includes surya namaskara
  • Late in pregnancy very deep back bending could cause the placenta to detach from the uterine wall – it is rare, however but advised to modify
  • Decrease number of practice days per week according to levels of fatigue.
  • It is not advisable for pregnant women to exercise on an empty stomach at any stage in pregnancy – women should have a light snack (i.e. fruit) prior to practice this will help to regulate blood glucose levels.

FIRST TRIMESTER (0-14 weeks)

Tradition recommends that women do not practice Ashtanga asana during the first trimester of pregnancy.

There is no medical evidence that suggests women with an established practice who are not considered a high-risk pregnancy need to refrain from practice.  However, general pregnancy precautions should be followed.

Women should not begin any physical activity they have not done pre pregnancy during the first trimester.

If the woman suffers from morning sickness, avoid any asanas that include padmasana, and prolonged forward folding movements in seated.

Drop backs: proceed with the highest level of caution.  If the practitioner has a stable low back and very clean, gentle drop back and standing with no jarring, ok to continue.

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