Struggling with the Ashtanga practice

by Christina on June 25, 2014

I always thought I’d keep practicing the ashtanga series up until delivery. Hah! Not even close.

My practice has changed a lot. The first trimester it was because I felt terribly sick. Too much up and down made me throw up. Now my body is growing and changing so quickly and I don’t want to hurt the baby in any way.

While I still try to practice nearly every day, it’s different — I move slowly, I don’t build up much heat, I don’t jump back or jump through, I don’t do intense backbends, and I don’t really do inversions anymore.

I’ve been focusing a lot more on back, hip, and shoulder opening and strengthening.

Babymoon yoga at Tomales Bay


It’s hard to keep up a regular practice while still a resident working nights and random shifts. Less than 1 week left!

Sleepless night shifts and call room yoga is one thing I will not miss about residency.


It was interesting to find this article by Betty Lai on the Ashtanga Practice during pregnancy.


Some interesting highlights:

  • Don’t practice first trimester
  • Don’t practice in too much heat
  • Step instead of jump-throughs or jump-backs
  • Avoid engaging bandhas
  • Modify postures to keep feet hip distance apart, not together
  • Do not do twists
  • Avoid poses that put pressure on the uterus
  • Avoid poses on back
  • Backbends are okay if they feel okay
  • No inversions in the third trimester

“Inverted postures such as headstand and shoulderstand are strongly discouraged at this stage [third trimester] because they may adversely affect blood flow to the baby, place undue pressure on the placenta, and increase the risk of the umbilical cord becoming wrapped around the baby’s neck. One must consider that not all babies are “athletic” enough to extricate themselves as the amount of relative space in the uterus decreases; or perhaps in women who have had multiple pregnancies and the uterus is more spacious, it may be easier for the baby to flip around but remain in a breech position. The last 8 weeks of pregnancy are a time to encourage the downward flow of energy and the correct downward positioning of the baby’s head to facilitate labor.”

Come July 1, once I am no longer a resident and my time will be my own again, I’ll start going to prenatal yoga classes… and look forward to getting back to the intensity of the traditional practice post-baby.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin Sugrue June 28, 2014 at 4:08 am

Hi Christina –
I’m including a link to information about some prenatal yoga videos that my prenatal yoga teacher and doula here in Minneapolis produced. She’s a pretty big name in the prenatal yoga world these days and though the videos came out after I had my kids, I bet they are pretty good. I loved her prenatal classes and loved that part of her philosophy is “you’re not sick moms, you’re just pregnant.” Meaning that you definitely need to listen to your body but that that doesn’t mean you need to spend the whole practice in child’s pose.

Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy and your upcoming birth, and congratulations on finishing your residency.

Take care,

P.S. They also have a good blog that has a lot of different birth stories that I think capture the many wonderful ways that children can come into the world:


Christina June 28, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Hey Erin,

So great to hear from you and thank you for that prenatal yoga video link! I will definitely look at that! I’m actually in the call room now and may try it right now 🙂 I have also loved reading birth stories and will look at that link… thank you so much!



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