Posts in Yoga
Blog series: Yoga in the First Trimester

If you just found out that you’re pregnant - congratulations! If you’re already a few weeks into your pregnancy or simply feel curious about how to adapt your exercise routine or yoga practice in early pregnancy, I’m glad you're here!

The first 3 months of pregnancy are filled with immense change. The first trimester is about growth and development. The fetus’s major organs, central nervous system and major body parts begin to take form. The heart starts beating and the brain is rapidly developing. By the end of the seventh week, all the essential structures have been formed. By twelve weeks, the uterus is the size of a grapefruit. There are also many other changes happening: hormonal, physiological, emotional and more. Some women experience tender breasts, nausea, morning sickness, fatigue, more frequent urination, and spotting in these early weeks. In addition to this, it’s a personal choice when you decide to announce your pregnancy. This can make the first trimester especially challenging. For example, you might be experiencing nausea or fatigue but are still keeping your pregnancy private. 

All things considered, yoga is a wonderful tool to use to help adapt to all that pregnancy brings. It can help you tune out some of the outside noise and distractions, and offer a break from your everyday chores. So that you can notice those changes you're experiencing, both physical and emotional, and ultimately, help you to feel more connected to your baby. It can also help you to tap into your intuition, that feeling of knowing what’s best for you and your baby.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
- Albert Einstein

When adapting your exercise or yoga routine, think of modifying your practice for the growing baby. It's generally recommended to avoid deep twists, deep backbends, and strong core exercises. In my experience, the latter will often feel intuitively undesirable for many women. You can also begin to think of creating more space for the growing belly, by separating your feet a little wider apart in forward folds where the feet are usually together (this goes for both standing and seated poses).

Below are some asanas (poses) that are safe for the first trimester that I recommend incorporating into your practice, whether you’re a beginner or experienced yogini.*


Supta Baddha Konasana - Reclining Bound Angle
Come to lie on your back. Draw the soles of your feet together. Let the knees rest out to the sides. You can support your knees with blocks (if you don't have blocks use books or magazines). Place your left hand on your belly and your right hand on your heart and breathe deeply.   


Balasana - Child's pose
Begin in tabletop position. Bring your knees out a little wider than your hips as you sink your buttocks back towards your heels. Stretch your arms out in front and rest your forehead on the ground. For extra support, place a blanket between your hips and your heels. 


Sukhasana - Easy pose
Fold your legs in front of your hips. I recommend sitting up on the very edge of a blanket to allow your knees to rest in-line with or below your hips. Begin by placing your hands on your thighs or knees. Then place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. Bring your attention inwards, to your breath & to your baby.

Happy practicing!

* Every pregnancy is different. Remember to always consult with your midwife or doctor before embarking on a new exercise program or routine.  


Yoga Mama, Yoga Baby: Ayurveda and Yoga for a Healthy Pregnancy and Birth, Sounds True, Incorporated, 2013

6 yoga poses to release stress

We've all been there. Finding ourselves mindlessly scrolling on our phones, grabbing for that third snack from the fridge, procrastinating that phone call we really should be making, or perhaps having recurring anxious thoughts about the past or the future. If I could guess, I don't think anyone particularly enjoys this state of mind or feeling. Personally, I tend to fall into these behaviors when I feel... a little overwhelmed with life, or with another word "stressed".

[ STRESS ] The word of the 21st century. Actually, stress has tended to get quite a bad wrap. But is stress actually bad for you?

Stress is defined as "the mental and physical response and adaptation by our bodies to the real or perceived changes and challenges in our lives."* In other words, it's our body's unique response to external challenges.

When our mind and body prepares to meet a challenge or demand, we activate all our capabilities so that we can successfully rise to the challenge, whether at work, school, in a relationship, sport-related or similar. This is where good stress comes in. Good stress helps you to grow and become more skilled, confident and competent. However, even when facing good stress, it's as important to give our bodies the time to relax and recover. 

If there's too much external stimulation, our brain will go into fight or flight mode. This response is designed to help you flee away or fight an approaching threat. This is not a place where we want to stay in the long-term.

When experiencing high-levels of stress, it's important to look for signs on how the stress is affecting you. Some signs that good stress is turning bad include:

- Feeling anxious about future or past experiences
- Lack of motivation
- Emotionally exhausted
- Poor sleep
- Tension in the body (especially neck and shoulders)
- A racing mind

The key here is to be aware of these symptoms and gather up some tools to help balance your stress levels. 

There are many things that you could try in order to relax and release stress. A bath, meditation, a walk in nature, baking, or yoga. I say: do what makes you feel good. There's no one way that will work for everyone.

When I feel stressed, or engage in behaviors that I know could be stress-related, I usually turn to meditation. If my mind is wandering or racing more intensely, I often go for a walk or try a few yoga poses. By engaging my body, I can give my mind a break by moving out of the mind and into my physical body.

Here are some yoga poses that I find amazing for finding a calm healthy state of mind.  


Sukhasana - Easy pose

Find a cross-legged position and breathe slowly in and out through the nose. You can also sit up on a blanket if you find it a bit more comfortable. Stay for at least 10 rounds of breath.


Bakasana - Child's pose

Come to all fours, separate your knees wide and sink your hips back down to your heels. Walk your hands out in front and rest your forehead on the mat. Breathe deeply.  


Malasana variation - Yogi's squat

Come to a yogi's squat with your feet together. Separate your knees out to the sides and slowly walk your hands forward. Rest your head down and let your hips be really heavy. Keep your gaze on your toes or look down on your mat. Lengthen your neck and breathe into your upper back. 


Uttanasana - Forward fold

1. From your squat, walk your hands in and slowly straighten your legs. Feel free to keep a slight bend in your knees here. Hold on to your elbows with your hands. Let your neck be long and see if you can let go for just a moment. I like to imagine that all my thoughts are "falling out through the top of my head". Let go.

2. Interlace your fingers behind your back to stretch out your shoulders by pulling the hands towards the front of the room. 


Viparita Karani - Legs-up-the-wall

Lie down on your back with your hips facing a wall or perhaps a sofa. Gently slide your legs up the wall. Rest here. Open up your arms or place them along your sides. Feel the firm support under your head, back, and shoulders.


Supta Baddha Konasana - Reclining Bound Angle

Gently bring your legs down and come to lie on your back once more. Bend your knees out to the sides and let the soles of your feet meet. Place your right hand on your belly and let your left hand rest on your heart. Connect to your breath and heart center. Notice how your belly rises and releases with each breath. Breathe calmly. Stay here as long as you want. 

I'd love to know if you try any of these poses and how you felt before and after in the comments. Happy practice!

Love & Namaste,

* R.J. Donatelle, Health - The Basics. Ch 3
* 1 Giant Mind Meditation App - Good stress vs. Bad Stress

My favorite morning yoga routine

Welcome back, hope you all had a good start to the year. I just got off a call with my mom, and we spoke about how little we have done so far this year. With the cool weather outside and non-existent dinner invitations, we both agreed we have a lot more time to catch up with things, and with ourselves.

I actually love the idea of spending January a bit more quietly, allowing more time for meditation and my home practice, in comparison with a crowded gym or yoga studio. Of course, it can be energizing to team up with all those folks and see their new year resolutions in action. But yes, whether we like it or not - it will be crowded. 

January really is an excellent time to build or come back to the foundation of your practice. And where is not a better place to begin, than in the calm space of your own home? Breathe in, tune in, and find a few stretches to create more space for good things to come. 

I often do a longer practice in the afternoon or evening. That being said, I really find that a few morning stretching and breathing exercises do wonders for the day ahead. 

Today I want to share my favorite morning yoga routine with you all. I do try to fit it in almost every day. My alarm clock rings, I get out of bed and into the bathroom to put some water on my face. I then prepare a drink to rehydrate, that is sometimes as simple as filtered water, hot water with lemon or some herbal tea.

Roll out your mat yogis...

Supta Padangusthasana l

Supta Padangusthasana l - Reclined Hand to big toe pose l

1. Lie down on your yoga mat, back down
2. Stretch your arms overhead and make yourself as tall as possible
3. Relax your body and reach for your strap (belt, towel or other)
4. Bend your right knee and tie the strap around the ball of your right foot
5. Inhale and stretch your right leg up towards the ceiling
6. Flex both feet to encourage strong legs
7. Keep a microbend in the right knee
8. Use your strap to support the foot, but use your abdomen to keep both your legs strong
9. Keep breathing slowly, stay here for up to a minute

Supta Padangusthasana

Supta Padangusthasana ll - Reclined Hand to big toe pose ll

1. Exhale and slowly begin to move your right foot out to the right, and if eventually down towards the floor
2. Stay with both feet flexed
3. Place the left hand on your left thigh to encourage the left hip to stay down
4. Use the muscles of your core to move slowly
5. Rest the back of your head and both shoulders on the floor
6. Keep your neck long and relax the face
7. Stay here for up to a minute

Supta Padangusthasana lll

Supta Padangusthasana lll - Reclined Hand to big toe pose lll

1. Slowly bring your foot back up to point towards the ceiling
2. Change the strap to your left hand and press your right thumb into your hip crease to push the hip away from you
3. Slowly start to move your right foot over to the left, keeping the leg as straight as you can and adjusting the length of the strap as needed
4. Keep your hips grounded
5. Breathe and extend out through the legs
6. Take a few deep breaths here and stay up to a minute
7. Slowly bring your foot back up over the hips and bend the knee
8. Re-extend your leg down on your mat

<Repeat the sequence on the left side>


Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward dog

1. Lying down on the floor, bend your knees into your chest and cross your ankles
2. Gently roll forward and back, placing your hands in front of your feet to come on to your hands and knees
3. With your hands slightly in front of your shoulders, slowly lift your knees off the floor
4. Send your hips up and back until you arrive in an upside down V-shape
5. Press down through the hands to lift your forearms away from the floor and to lengthen your spine
6. Feel free to keep a microbend in your knees here
7. Look between your feet and take 3 deep breaths


Downward dog with gentle twists

1. Separate your feet a little wider apart than your usual downward dog
2. Inhale and shift your weight into your left hand, exhale bring your right hand to your left shin or ankle
3. Take a few breaths here
4. If it feels okay for your neck, look under your left armpit
5. Take a few more slow breaths, inhale release the twist and bring your right hand down

<Repeat on the left side>  


Trikonasana - Triangle pose

1. Step your right foot forward, and line up your feet heel to heel
2. Ground down through your feet, place your right hand on your right shin or on the floor next to your front foot. 
3. Inhale, extend the left arm up towards the ceiling as you open the chest out to the side
4. Find length through both sides of your waist
5. Firm your thighs and keep your front knee slightly bent to protect the knee
6. Inhale and extend from your centre and out, energy flowing through the body
7. Exhale and bring both hands down to the floor and step back to downward dog

<Repeat on the left side> 

Happy practicing yogis, let me know how you feel!