Posts tagged Asana
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

Sarvangasana for all the women


Hope you all have had an amazing day! My day started off teaching yoga, with a women's theme of course. We practised some of my favourite yoga poses with a lot of female power (think Warrior ll, Lord of the Dance and Bow) and celebrated ourselves and our bodies all throughout the class. An hour of bliss.

One of the yoga poses that has always fascinated me the most is Sarvangasana, or shoulderstand. 

Actually, it might be one of the first poses that I ever tried out. If you don't count basic poses such as a cross legged or savasana, obviously. 

Sarvangasana always came so naturally to me, to just throw my feet up into air, resting them on the wall - or as a free stand, with my back resting in the palms of the hands. 

It is like my body is asking me to do this pose; it really helps me to clear my mind. 

Next time you feel restless, agitated or stuck in a rut - try it out. Only after a few minutes of pressing down through the upper arms and watching your toes reach up towards the sky, your mind and senses will heighten and most likely, you will feel back in tune with the now. Feeling grounded, focused and with a new frame of mind 

Preparing for and moving into Sarvangasana

1. Fold a few blankets, evenly and to a large enough piece to fit your arms and back. 
2. Place your blankets at the top of your yoga mat or about 50 cm away from the wall. Turn the folded edges towards the wall or the edge of the mat
3. Lie down on your back with the shoulders two centimeters away from the folded edge. 
4. Bend your knees and bring the arms in by your sides, palms facing up. 
5. Root your shoulders and arms into the blanket.
6. Inhale gently, and as you exhale swing your legs up in the air and/or against the wall. 
7. Bend the elbows and place the palms of your hands on your lower back with the fingers pointing up.
8. Keep your elbows in line with the shoulders and keep you neck still for good alignment
9.. Reach out through the toes and bear the body weight through the foundation - your elbows, shoulders, and head. Each point should bear weight, but your elbows should bear the most, followed by your shoulders and your head. 
10. If your neck is comfortable and your setup feels like a breeeze, stay for 5 to 10 breaths. Then, slowly release from the pose. Gradually increase the time spent in the pose, to eventually remain in the pose for five peaceful minutes.