November 1, 2011

The Pregnant Yogini: The Halfway Mark.

After weeks of waiting to feel those first flutters and kicks, anticipating an end to the first trimester nausea, and seeing the first bulge of my belly, I’ve made it to the magical half-way mark – 20 weeks. 

This milestone has brought with it some mixed emotions: I’m excited about baby’s arrival, feeling nervous about the challenges of motherhood, slightly pressured to get everything done before the big day, and very aware of the fact that labour and birth aren’t that far around the corner.

As always, it’s yoga that I keep coming back to. Yes, my practice has changed, but it’s a practice that is now more than ever dictated by my intuition and current needs. I’m enjoying exploring a bunch of asanas (physical postures) and leaving a lot on the ‘not right now’ pile.

Asanas I’m loving:

Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose) The traits of a warrior are always relevant when navigating life. But right now, at 20 weeks pregnant, the power, strength and confidence generated by Warrior II feels particularly empowering. I can be guided by my intuition, and I can face the challenges ahead with focus and courage. Plus, I love the stretch this pose offers for my hips and the physical strength it’s building in my legs (hoping that will come in handy in another 20 weeks time!)

Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) Puffy feet anyone? Seems to be a pretty common side effect of pregnancy, particularly in the second and third trimesters. I’m trying to get in early by inverting myself regularly! Getting into the pose isn’t quite as easy these days, but with a bit of support from the wall, Shoulder Stand is proving to be a very satisfying pose. Taking the legs up above the heart helps to move blood and lymph – and relieve those aching feet and legs. Plus, my belly looks pretty neat from that angle!

Balasana (Child Pose) Ah, Child Pose. A saviour when I’m feeling exhausted or when my back is aching after a long day. With my big toes together and my knees wide, I can fold forward and relax completely, baby safely nestled away. I imagine my baby resting in the hammock of my belly, protected and nurtured. As my inner thighs get a gentle stretch and my spine is encouraged to lengthen, I can focus purely on the life I’m supporting.

Balance Poses As my belly continues to expand, my centre of gravity is shifting. I’ve always loved the focus and perseverance that’s encouraged through balance poses such as Vrksasana (Tree Pose) and Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III Pose) – and now they present a new challenge. Balance poses help me adapt to the ongoing physical and emotional changes I’m experiencing; reminding me that I can adapt and maintain my centre, even as things continue to evolve.

Sukhasana (Easy Pose) Now, more than ever, I enjoy simply sitting cross legged on my bolster, closing my eyes and placing my hands on my belly. Sometimes I feel a little kick or squirm beneath my palms. I reconnect with my breath, with my life force, and, of course, with the baby. I let thoughts drift, simply enjoying the beauty of the moment.

Asanas on the ‘not right now’ pile:

On my ‘not right now’ list of asanas are any that make my belly feel vulnerable. All but the gentlest of backbends are out, as is anything that puts pressure over my belly. These types of asanas are all contraindicated during pregnancy anyway, and for good reason. It’s amazing how completely in tune I am with my belly. The natural protective instinct that’s already so well developed will no doubt extend to my child for the rest of its life.

Now, I’m off to practice child pose.

Related articles:

The Pregnant Yogini: I Worry So I Do Yoga.

The Pregnant Yogini: From Headstands to Headaches.

Photo credit: Tree pose

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Erica Webb  |  Contribution: 2,300