This is for pregnant women in the first trimester of pregnancy. From the moment you stare at the thin blue line there is a fundamental shift into the unknown. From that moment you begin to meet yourself in new form, as a mother, as protector of this tiny spark growing inside of you.
The first few months of pregnancy is one of the most phenomenal transitions you will go through as a woman; and often it is a time when you feel pretty terrible, and despite the need to talk it through, many keep it a secret until the first scan. Most women will be advised to not join yoga classes or begin pregnancy yoga until after the first three months – when it may feel you most need it!
According to Ayurveda, it is after the first trimester that the soul (purusha) of the baby incarnates. So until baby has fully committed to being here, your task is to rest, be open and receptive to the change that is coming into your life, and primarily find as much balance, grounding and nourishment you can.
Earthing and Nourishing:
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the body is read as a microcosm of the five elements, health arising from the balance of all five. Earth reflects the qualities of the mother, the ability to ground, to nourish and to protect. The meridians of Earth are the stomach and spleen. These energy lines run through the centre of the belly where your baby is growing, and govern your ability to get nourishment and chi (energy) from food. The more energy you can generate and contain within, the more jing chi you are passing onto your baby. If you experience tiredness and nausea from the influx of hormones, then nurturing the earth element will really help anchor you into yourself as a newly pregnant mother.
Creativity & Journaling:
Make a list or brainstorm of what qualities you associate with the element of Earth – and reflect on how you could bring more of the nurturing attributes of this into your life. Brainstorm ways to nurture yourself: baths, walks, yoga, food with friends, music, being creative... The emotion of Earth in balance is gratitude, so it may be a good time to begin a gratitude diary. You could also write a journal so that you can acknowledge and let go of worries, and identify clearly what you need to nourish body and spirit.
In order to nutritionally support the huge shifts the body is going through you primarily need to stabilize your blood sugar levels, which is often linked to the nausea of morning sickness. Make sure you never skip meals, you have wholesome meals three times a day, plus high protein snacks in between. Before bed, eat a high protein snack – avocado, egg or cheese on cracker for example. The foods associated with the earth element are root vegetables, cooked, warm sweet foods. More recipes are part of the Five Elements Pregnancy Yoga Course, but a carrot, coconut and butternut soup for example is a great Earth food. A little root veg sweetness helps to bring your Earth qualities into balance. Of course, try to avoid caffeine and refined sugar as they lead to blood sugar crash, often associate with the nausea. Rest little and often.
Move with a steady, sure, reliable pace. Allow your movements to arise from and connect to the earth, so you feel supported no matter what pace or situations you confront. Feel your feet on the ground and feel the ground under your feet with each step you take. Soften your body and your emotions to meet your environment, calmly standing your ground rather than resisting or fighting obstacles. Remember and take comfort in the gentle rhythm of your breath, and steady exhale. This will keep your nervous system in the parasympathetic ‘calm, connect, nourish’ mode rather than fight/flight which drains your energy on every level.
Yin-Vinyasa / Yinyasa:
N.B. You have the relaxin hormone in your body which softens the bones and ligaments and relaxes muscles ready for birth; so now you are pregnant you are not looking at stretching anymore than your capacity pre pregnancy otherwise ligaments may get damaged. Other than supported restorative poses, avoid holding poses. Bring a gentle swaying movement into the yin postures as you feel. Any discomfort, come out of the pose and rest. Be guided by your intuition. If anything doesn’t feel right… just don’t do it. Use a gentle relaxed breath as your anchor.
Childs pose for 3 minutes focusing on the breath, enjoying the steady nourishing balance of inhale and expansion, to exhale and retreat/with-drawl.
Press gently into Downward facing Dog – feet and arms spaced wide and knees softly bent. Gently sway side to side. Peel heels of hands off ground to knuckle-bed alternately to ‘pad’ through hands, and splay balls of feet and toes into ground as you lift heels.
Raise your left leg and sweep the foot to behind the left hand, resting your right knee on the ground in low lunge. As you allow the pelvis and hips to gently sway and stretch to ground, lift pelvic floor and raise your arms if to the ceiling – feeling your energy rise up through the body whilst the foot and shin anchor you down to the ground.
Now allow your hands to rest inside the left foot as you drop head and soften deeper into the lunge.
Launch into a soft digasana / warrior 3 with bent knees, arms along side thighs or to ground and feel the steady strength of your legs whilst your body lifts confidently forward into the space before you.
Landing to stand softly, feet hip distance, press down in strong rooted feet, raise your hands up smoothly with the breath to the ceiling, and as you exhale bring arms wide to the side and circle the hands into your belly – drawing energy softly into your womb. Raise the hands again, changing the placement of the hands.
Hands to prayer, lower then slide left leg back to lunge… repeating lunge postures on the right side.
Beginning with soft pulsing movements in the knees, slow down to stillness and rest in Supine or forward folding Butterfly/baddakonasa (with cushions/blankets under knees and sit bones) for 1-2 minutes – counting your inhale as 1, exhale as 2… all the way until 10… Staying for as long as it takes to harness the calmness and focus of your mind to being worries and distractions to a soft murmuring stillness.
Return to childs pose, the position of your baby. Returning to the breath with gratitude, with a sense of support and wholeness.
Meditation and Pranayama
Sitting on a cushion or bolster, with hips higher than knees. Support your knees if they are raised off the ground. Spine undulates upright; body softens around the spine. Place your hands on your upper chest and begin to softly expand the breath in the dome of the upper chest – feel the breath open into the clavicle, and the shoulders. Lengthen the exhale. Move your thumbs to your armpits and lift the side ribs up, creating space to breathe into the rib cage. Identify the fanning open and closing of the wings of the rib cage – front and back of your body.
Place your hands just below your ribs and align ribs over belly, allowing diaphragm to billow down towards your belly. Visualise the breath, and all the nourishment the breath brings pouring down to your baby, encasing the tiny embryo in light and warmth. Breath is soft and welcome. Body is soft and welcoming. Baby is soft and welcome.
Once your breathing is gentle, rhythmic and pleasurable, form the cosmic mudra with your hands, and place the oval space shaped space over your womb. As you breathe (to the count of ten if helpful), soften the shoulders and face, soften the thighs into the ground. Feel nourishment pool down to your belly on the inhale from your breath, and feel energy rise up from the earth on your exhale. Allow yourself to feel powerful, warm and inflated by this energy. Allow a solidity to circulate within your belly and hold it with your attention. Be aware of your neck and face and crown of your head, feeling soft, stable, calm and connected.
I am enough, I have enough. I am giving and receiving in balance.