Surya Namaskara or ‘Salute to the Sun’ is a common practice in many yoga classes. It is often used at the beginning of a class as a way to warm the whole body, but it can also be a whole practice in its own right.
There are many different forms of surya namaskara and this one is a pregnancy-friendly version I learned from the wonderful feminist yoga teacher Uma Dinsmore Tuli. She is the author of many books including Teach Yourself Yoga for Pregnancy.
Before checking out my ten minute video below, please take a look at these general guidelines for exercising during pregnancy, and specific guidelines for practising yoga safely throughout your pregnancy.
Exercise and Pregnancy – General Guidelines
Many people continue to exercise right up to their due date. There are no hard and fast rules about what is definitely ‘safe’, but here are some things to consider for yourself:
- Pregnancy may be a time of great tiredness. Only choose exercise that makes you feel restored and renewed afterwards, rather than tired and depleted. Your body is working 24 hours a day on one of the most physically challenging projects it will ever do – making your baby!
- Stick to exercise that is specifically designed for pregnancy (like pregnancy yoga!), or that you are very familiar with before becoming pregnant.
- Be especially cautious during the first trimester – it’s a busy and delicate time – by the end of week 12 all of your baby’s organs, limbs, bones and muscles are in place and growing!
- Be conscious that your body is going through massive changes and look after it. Don’t let it become breathless or overtired. Be mindful that your ligaments will be relaxing so the body is less stable and overstretching should be avoided.
- Rest whenever you need to (and whenever you can).
- Learn how to consciously relax very deeply.
- Spend time outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air.
- Pregnancy has its challenges but it is also a time to feel strong, graceful and beautiful. Enjoy your pregnant body and allow it to move, breathe and relax.
Yoga during Pregnancy
- Keep your practice slow and steady and ensure it is nurturing and not depleting. Only do things that make you feel comfortable and happy.
- Postures to avoid include deep closed twists, large back bends and anything lying on your front (e.g. cobra or bow pose). There is no evidence to suggest that inverted postures such as headstand or handstand are beneficial for you or your baby during pregnancy.
- Avoid any postures or practices that leave you feeling tired and breathless.
- Ease gracefully and slowly from posture to posture rather than jumping.
- Prioritise stability over stretching. It is easy to over-stretch during pregnancy due to the presence of the hormone Relaxin, which softens our ligaments.
- Keep pranayama (breathing) practices flowing and easy. Avoid anything that involves holding the breath or pumping breaths.
- Make plenty of time for deep, conscious relaxation and connecting with your baby.
Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) for Pregnancy
A ten minute guided practice of pregnancy-friendly surya namaskar. Please note this version may not be suitable if you have pelvic pain (stepping one foot forward could aggravate this). Please seek personal advice from a qualified yoga teacher if you have any concerns about the suitability of this practice for you.