Pregnancy and exercise: A Guide for aerialists and yogis

workout tips for pregnancy

CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR PREGNANCY! THERE IS ONE THING US AERIALISTS AND YOGIS HAVE IN COMMON. EXERCISE IS NOT A SIMPLE MEANS TO BE FIT. AERIAL ARTS AND YOGA IS A WAY OF LIFE! SO YOU MAY BE WONDERING WHAT PREGNANCY EXERCISES ARE SAFE FOR YOU DURING THE NEXT 9 MONTHS. WELL READ ON WE ARE GOING TO ADDRESS THE RISKS, BENEFITS AND ADVICE TO HAVE YOU EXERCISING SAFELY IN YOUR PREGNANCY.

** Disclaimer I am not a medical professional. Always check with your OBGYN as every pregnancy is different.

PREGNANCY EXERCISES IN THE FIRST TRIMESTER

5 weeks pregnant here and suspicious of the little bambino. I had a false negative but my body knew better than the pregnancy test.

Training in the first month of my pregnancy was a breeze! Let’s face it I didn’t even know I was pregnant yet. As soon as the six week mark hit on my second pregnancy things rapidly changed for me.

My nausea was so intense that I was completely incapacitated for nearly three months on every drug and natural remedy on the planet. None of it helped.

Contrary to what you might think, the first trimester is actually one of the riskiest times in pregnancy. Your baby is trying to implant itself securely into the tissue of your womb, so sudden jolts and falls can be dangerous. That means no more drops!

Luckily, your body starts producing hormones that usually result in you feeling nauseous, dissuading you from doing too much physically, thus helping to keep baby safe.

In the first trimester you will experience an insatiable appetite (I was smashing 4 big macs in one sitting lol), rapid fatigue and nausea. It is important to let your body rest and be kind to yourself. Know that this will pass and you can go back to your training schedule soon.

There are many mummas out there that do not experience these symptoms at a high intensity and have no problems training.

If you are able to train here is my advice as an aerial & yoga instructor:

FIRST TRIMESTER EXERCISE ADVICE:

STAY OFF YOUR BELLY!

For aerialists stay off the belly! While your little one is only a bunch of cells as soon as you are pregnant it is important to stay off the belly. We do not want to put any pressure on your newly growing bundle of joy. No more front mounts, front balances or anything where the apparatus rests on the belly!

For yogis try and adapt your practice to minimise belly pressure. For instance try and swap cobra pose for upward dog.

AVOID DROPS AND JOLTS.

Since your little one is going through the implantation stage you really want to avoid any sudden jolts or falls. That means no more drops! Or new moves where you have the chance of falling. You need to keep your body in a constant state of steady control while you are running through your sequences.

When practicing headstands or handstands in your yoga practice. If you can not come down in a controlled mannor then avoid it for now. We don’t want your feet jolting on the floor and affecting the fetus.

BACK OFF THE INVERSIONS

With the first month of pregnancy being the riskiest when it comes to miscarriage I do recommend to avoid inversions until you hit 12 weeks. Establishing a healthy pregnancy is far more important that inversions. They can wait a few weeks.

SECOND TRIMESTER PREGNANCY EXERCISE ADVICE:

The second trimester is when I started to get my mojo back. My morning sickness did not subside but the intensity was much more bearable.

This is where I started to get back into my training and teaching practice.

In the second trimester the amount of relaxin (the hormone that makes your connective tissue more elastic) spikes to its highest levels during pregnancy. This the body’s way in helping you prepare for birth.

AVOID PASSIVE FLEXIBILITY TRAINING.

I thought this was going to be a great time for me to take my flexibility to the next level as I could utilise the relaxin to my contortion goals. Turns out that is not a good idea.

For one stretching does not feel as good as what it used to because of the limitations on the way your body can move.

Secondly you are in danger of over stretching ligaments or even tearing them due to the increased elasticity.

I will give you a free pass on deer pose. This one is great for releasing the tightness in the Piriformis that we can experience due to the natural changes in the spine curvature to support the pregnancy and birth.

piriformis
Source: https://learnmuscles.com/glossary/piriformis/

IMPLEMENT DYNAMIC FLEXIBILITY TRAINING.

Implement a gentle stretching practice and ensure that your muscles are engaged to protect your joints and connective tissue.

This means no yin yoga think more of a gentle alignment class.

STAY OFF YOUR BACK.

It’s generally accepted and recommended by the ACOG that woman should not lie flat on their backs after the 3rd month. My OBGYN advised me that I can only be on my back for a maximum of 5 minutes. Honestly I cant even do 30 seconds it just feels awful!

Why? When we recline past the 12 week mark the weight of the baby decrease the circulation to your heart and the baby’s.

NO MORE CRUNCHES. OH DAMN

In the second stage of pregnancy it is time to avoid any crunching of the abdominals. If you know me, I hate training abs so this is a sweet little gold nugget for me.

The downside of no crunches means no dead hanging beats :(. One of my favourite moves and warm ups.

Exercising the abs during pregnancy can lead to diastasis recti. This is when the abdominal muscles separate.

The scary part is that you probably won’t feel anything wrong when you are pregnant. It’s after you give birth that you realize your abdominals aren’t working correctly anymore.

As aerialists and yogis it is really important for us to have strong cores for balance, movement and control over the body. So take this time to give your belly a rest and pick up the training postpartum.

PICKING UP YOUR INVERSION PRACTICE

Now that the risk of miscarriage is greatly decreased, it is safe to pick up your inversion practice. This is something that you may want to speak with OBGYN about first. Many OBGYNs will tell you to avoid inversions due to the risk of cord wrapping. Although my OBGYNs exact words when I questioned her further about this was “There is 0 evidence that there is a correlation.”

As for your inversion practice, this would be your personal choice combined with how healthy and risky your current pregnancy is.

I personally feel my little lady doing summersaults in my belly all the time.

If you do decided to make inversions part of your pregnancy exercise practice it is important that you listen to your body. Things change on a daily basis. For instance at 5.5 months I can invert in my Lyra with no issue, yet a straddle mount makes me see stars. Only practice the inversions if they feel right and make sure you have a spotter.

The reason for needing a spotter and monitoring how we feel on a daily basis is by the 16 week mark your blood volume has increased by up to 50%. With this increase in blood volume, some women may notice a tendency to get dizzy as the body adjusts to the increase in fluid.  I do notice the increase of blood when I invert at 5.5 months and I can no longer stay upside down for as long as what I used to.

WHAT TO PRACTICE IN YOUR SECOND TRIMESTER:

I am the type of girl who loves a challenge. If something is easily obtained I am generally not interested. I took the same viewpoint to my pregnancy and aerial training.

This was an opportunity for me to start putting new sequences together that avoids, drops, inverts and front balances. Not as easy as it sounds.

In my second trimester my warm ups on the apparatus consisted of:

Delilah mounts, assisted shoulder shrugs, and seated balances in the Lyra.

Warm ups off the apparatus consisted of:

Plea’s, tondus, shoulder rolls, neck rolls and ankle rolls.

THIRD TRIMESTER PREGNANCY

In the third trimester of your pregnancy you are starting to have to deal with an extra 25-40 pounds in your practice. The force is exaggerated when you stop in space suddenly such as dropping, flipping or even gently jumping in the fabric.

It’s time to start slowing down your practice. If your body has not seemed to slow you down yet think of implementing your practice as an absolute beginner. Go back to the very basics and be gentle.

Your child is your number one priority at the moment. You will be a force to be reckoned with soon. In the meantime, just enjoy gentle exercise and being able to get out and about!

What Pregnancy Exercises were you doing during your three trimesters? I would love to hear from you!

Looking to increase your flexibility check out my intermediate middle split practice here.