Being 23 weeks pregnant I can say that the second trimester really does fit into it’s “feel-good-trimester” description. I have much more energy in general than during the first three months, it’s easier to get up for yoga and my mood is much more cheerful.
Still, growing a new life inside has my body adjusting its shape and weight, shifting its balance and going through many other changes that naturally come with the whole cycle of pregnancy. I can literally feel my joints, ligaments and other body parts softening and reshaping, which on some days have given me lovely side effects such as small lower back aches. The extra weight of the baby and increased amount of blood in my body sometimes make my legs fatigued and as my internal organs and stomach are being pressed upwards it’s challenging to digest all meals properly every time.
Experimenting with yoga and eating habits over the days and weeks, I managed to tailor a great morning routine together with my yoga practice to begin each day feeling good and energised. When I sleep well, do my yoga and eat and drink the right things in the right way, everything just feels better. And this applies to life outside pregnancy too.
Here is how I love to start my day:
1. Hydrating the night before and waking up early. A fresh and good morning, especially one with ashtanga practice(or any other exercise) starts already with the previous night. How you establish a good sleeping routine and when you go to bed affects a lot on how you will feel the next morning. It’s important to find a good and natural sleeping cycle for your self, for me it means at least 7 hours of good night sleep.
Not eating too late is another important thing. I try to eat my dinner by 7-8pm and make sure I’m hydrated enough for the next morning by drinking a fresh coconut an hour before going to bed.
I get up usually around 5-6am and specifically enjoy the early moments when the house and the neighbourhood is still asleep. I love early mornings in general and feel the most productive and happy when waking up before the break of dawn. It’s also much cooler in those hours before the Kerala sun starts heating up the day, not too hot for yoga.
2. Drinking warm lemon water
Always always start your day with water. Preferably a LOT of it.
Drinking water, especially with lemon is a great way to get the body going after the body has been without any hydration the whole night. Water before food cleanses and begins to lubricate the internal systems. Even though some people like cold water in the mornings, I prefer boiling mine, because when the water is warm it doesn’t give a shock like cold water does.
Ashtanga is best practiced on an empty stomach and before my pregnancy I used to have a small cup of coffee or lemon water half an hour before rolling out the mat. When pregnant I feel best to have a nice and big cup of warm lemon water with either a couple of dates or a half of a banana to keep my sugar levels from dropping.
3. Sitting in silence for 10 minutes. After downing my hot lemon(and giving it a bit time) I love starting my practice sitting 10-15 minutes sitting in lotus just being there, in the present, breathing. I try and keep space between any thoughts that come and just observe them, not trying to grab and judge them. When I do this in the morning it sets a better intention for the day and gives me a more calming mindset for the upcoming practice too.
4. Doing morning yoga practice. My practice consists of mainly the primary series and a couple of added postures from the intermediate series. Usually it lasts about an hour or so, depending on the day. Second trimester on the yoga mat feels much easier, I have more energy, but still there are days when some postures just don’t feel good and I feel most comfortable just breathing and stretching for 15 minutes. There is no agenda to yoga when you are pregnant and as Sharath says do your practice every day and do what you can. The most important part is to get your body moving and stretching the way it feels comfortable.
Some ashtanga postures that I find very therapeutic during this trimester: Upavistha konasana opens the hips, gives a nice relief for any lower back pain and the stretch helps fatigued legs. Baddha konasana stretches the inner thighs and opens the pelvic area. Ustrasana opens the chest and the shoulders while giving a nice gentle backbend as well. Both Sarvangasana and headstand feel great for my tired feet, being upside down might be really uncomfortable for some during pregnancy, so just putting your feet up the wall will do the trick.
5. Moisturising and pampering yourself. After yoga I turn on the heater and go on having my hot bath. Once I’m all scrubbed I like to combine this Ayurvedic oil ( Dhanwantharam oil ) we got from the local shop with some castor oil and rub it on my belly and thighs to keep the skin moisturised. This is great to prevent stretch marks 🙂 If I’m not using these oils, I love using Shea or coconut butter and once a week a home made body scrub with either coffee grains and honey or avocado, banana, the list is endless! The main point is the pampering part.
6. Having a nutritious smoothie for breakfast. This is my favourite way to fuel my body and nurture our baby in the morning. I’m a smoothie lover and always keep my blends fresh and clean without any processed sugars or sweeteners, artificial protein powders or any types of animal products. I love knowing what I eat and the best way is to keep the food as natural and fresh as possible!
My breakfast and post-yoga smoothies usually have bananas, spinach, coconut water and coconut flesh, avocado, dates and any sort of fresh fruits to add. I make either raw cocoa or green smoothies and choosing ingredients rich in good fats, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and natural sugars and protein, making sure I get enough calories in the whole blend. I do eat other types of breakfasts too (like rawnola or nicecream with fruits, occasionally oats and nuts) but have found out that smoothies make me feel the greatest.
There you go, I hope this is helpful for anyone reading this, pregnant or not, who is trying to establish a great morning routine to support a healthy and happy lifestyle.
I wanted to also add this video here for anyone who is interested to see how the ashtanga practice for pregnancy looks like. In this video Wambui Njuguna guides a modified primary series and it’s pretty much what my practice looks like too(with few changes here and there) now that I am entering my sixth month.