Yes, I’m still practicing
I can’t tell you how many people have asked me that question. I can’t imagine going through a pregnancy without yoga. It has helped me adapt to my ever-changing body and gets 100% credit for getting a former back pain-sufferer through pregnancy with zero back pain.
It feels good. My hips have definitely gotten tighter during the third trimester so it feels good to get in that hot room and stretch. My new best buddy is Pranayama. I’ve started doing it every morning when I wake up. It gets me alert much faster and reminds my body how to breathe deeply. I can finally get my lungs off the baby and take a deep breath. I feel for women who haven’t practiced Pranayama-type breathing because as this baby gets bigger, I have to breathe into my chest. There just isn’t any more room in my abdomen for my diaphragm.
We talked with our midwife a few weeks ago about birthing classes. She said, “To be honest, everything you learn in a birthing class, you already practice every day in yoga.” Staying focused and calm through challenging moments, rhythmic, slow breathing, endurance, meditation, etc. The only thing she recommended was a hospital tour.
It’s amazing to me how many woman have said to me that I should keep in mind getting an epidural. When I’ve said I was interested in natural childbirth, I’d say 75 percent of women have told me that’s crazy and to be ready to take the drugs or there’s no reason to feel the pain, etc. It’s pretty incredible that that has become the absolute norm in our country and at the same time we have complications rates similar to most third world countries. We’ll see. I’ve never done this before, but I have to believe that positive thinking and faith in myself can only help.
I think the hardest part now is waiting. Maybe that’s been the hardest part all along. I can remember at 16 weeks, thinking that at 32 weeks I’d almost be done. Now, here I am at 34 weeks and the end seems so far away. It’s like waiting for Christmas morning for eight months.
Now it’s all making sense. So much that I had read about pregnancy and relaxin is finally happening in my body. Relaxin is the hormone that softens a woman’s ligaments so that the pelvis is more malleable and can accommodate magnificence of the human head at birth.
A lot of the postures that we teach students to modify in the pregnancy series I haven’t had to modify (except to accommodate my belly) at all until now. It seems like in a week, my whole pelvis has changed. I went from comfortable doing Toe Stand on Friday to “what am I thinking?” on Sunday. I can see why they say to avoid excess pressure to the perineum and symphysis pubis. It feels like my symphysis is going to crack open if I put too much pressure on it. Now I know why they encourage you to do Kegels from the beginning.
I can really feel the effects of the softening in my ligaments. In straddle splits, there is a point where my muscles are no longer stretching and I can feel I am just pulling on my ligaments. It actually feels like my ilium are spreading away from my sacrum when I fold too far forward in it. When I pushed it too far, I felt like I’d been riding a horse too long for the rest of the day. I’ve noticed, too, when I do Forearmstand, that I have INCREDIBLE stretching across my abdomen that just doesn’t feel right. I just don’t feel in control. I am sure some of that has to do with the lengthening of my rectus abdominus…it just doesn’t contract like it used to…
It really is inappropriate for any pregnant woman to do Toe Stand and deep straddle splits during pregnancy. It may feel okay in the beginning, but contributes to instability in the ligaments that stabilize your entire body and can lead to long-term problems with the sacroiliac joints. I have always been very strong and was very pig-headed about dialing back my practice. Although it feels never-ending at times, pregnancy is a tiny period of your life. You’ll get back to all of your favorite poses before you know it.
Other than that, I am really just in the grow-the-baby stage. She’s gaining weight and getting bigger, kicking up a storm. She loves hot chocolate. Some times it looks like an alien is rolling over under my skin. I wish I could see what she’s doing in there.
Things are pretty uneventful lately. I feel good, the yoga feels good, I have plenty of energy and a good appetite. Things are right on track. She’s a good size and developing well. She has gotten incredibly active. I used to feel her just at night or very quiet times during the day. Now I feel her kicking and rolling all day long, especially during class and after backbends. She used to be quiet the whole time I was teaching, now she’s kicking me while I’m talking. The one part of class that completely mellows her is Kapalbhati. I don’t know if its the motion or the rhythmic squeezing, but I don’t hear a peep from her for about an hour after we’re done. Even when I am just demonstrating or joining the group while I’m teaching.
Her favorite place to plant a kick is right in my liver. I am happy, though, that she’s on that side because if she were reversed, I’d be seeing my lunch again as she jabbed me in my stomach.
Someone told me this week that they were glad to hear I was pregnant because they thought I had just been eating too much ice cream. More students have figured it out or are passing the news on. I feel like I get more energy every single day. It feels so good not to feel bad that I am ecstatic. I’ve felt a little rolling and pressure in my abdomen, but no concrete kicks yet. I do, however, have regular Braxton-Hicks contractions. I notice after I lie down from a backbend that my uterus gets firm and bulges up. It was surprising at first, but my midwife says it’s a normal reaction to exercise and activity and it all serves to make my uterine muscle stronger for childbirth.
The pregnancy modifications feel really good. The only thing I miss in the release in my upper back that you get from Rabbit and Head-to-Knee. The Cat/Cow in place of Rabbit is a fair substitute, but in no way as deep a stretch.
I am surprised, but already my belly is in the way in Spine Twisting. Even with my lower leg extended, I can still feel too much compression in my lower abdomen. I have had to start twisting in the opposite direction (open). Most of the twist happens in my mid-back and upper back.