I have practiced yoga every week now for close to five years and my routine is very much a part of my life. Once expecting, I got some yoga for pregnancy DVD’s, and I believe practicing them have made a big difference in the way my pregnancy has progressed. Yoga is a great mom-to-be exercise because it can be gentle enough for someone who has less energy or vigorous enough to give you a full body workout, not to mention a peaceful mind. A challenge for me was finding good yoga pants for pregnant women at a good price, but after trying to use some of my old pants through hip-opening poses, and worrying that I may be hurting my low-laying baby, I say a pair of pregnancy yoga pants are worth the extra bucks.

The first trimester, although extremely fatigued, I was able to gain bits of energy and plenty of well being from practicing Yoga Mama and Shiva Rae’s Prenatal Yoga. Yoga Mama is a shorter practice (about 45 minutes) which I’ve found helpful all through my pregnancy. It combines standing poses, hip openers and plenty of floor work. A bit longer and well thought-out, but somewhat less satisfying was Shiva Rae’s. Even though I found the poses “too easy” for my level, I often felt sore and worn out after the session, as opposed to invigorated. Both DVD’s are great in that they talk about/demonstrate modifications for women in any trimester of their pregnancy and are appropriate for women who haven’t practiced yoga before.

My second trimester was the best time to practice Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga with Jennifer Wolfe. Because this 1 1/2 hour DVD is meant for people with an established yoga practice that amounts to a total body workout, I was able to share this with my partner and practice well into the third trimester. In fact, I might even want to give it a go today (at 38 weeks). The session includes sun salutations, the warrior series, hip openers and balance poses. This practice is worth the time you devote to it, mentally and physically. My days started with this DVD were full of great energy!

For variety’s sake, I’ve turned to online practices during my third trimester, some of which I got for free! A friend turned me on to Yogamazing, a free podcast by Chaz downloadable through itunes. The podcast is not specific to pregnant women, but they do have a great, 20-minute session called Yoga Pregnancy perfect for a quick yoga pick-me-up. It includes some standing poses and hip openers and it just feels good to take a few minutes to stretch when you don’t have the energy for anything else. As mentioned, the podcasts are free, but you can get all past episodes for $1.99 and have a mini-yoga library to explore once you’ve had your baby. Well worth it! Itunes has tons of other free yoga podcasts and podcasts for moms and moms to be, as well as meditation podcasts that go anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. Burried in the yoga podcasts is My Yoga Online. They offer short practices for free, but have a whole website you can subscribe to for a small amount a month that give you a pass to a full video library of yoga, pilates and meditation sessions accessible from anywhere there’s a computer and internet connection. Their prenatal session features some 7 or 8 videos and I particularly love the 55 minute energizing Prenatal Yoga with Ariel Pavic. Squats and plenty of floor work with emphasis on hip-openers, as well as breath-focused twists and some great bending and standing poses make this my favorite third trimester practice. It seems a lot shorter than it is because of the great flow and choreography.

To get back to pre-pregnancy shape, I plan to explore My Yoga Online fully, initially focusing on pilates sessions that emphasize core exercises and toning. I am looking forward to enjoying inverted poses again (like shoulder stands) and challenging my body to advanced new poses. Also fun would be to try a post-pregnancy practice that involves the baby. I’m contemplating ordering Postnatal Yoga by Shiva Rae. Even though I didn’t enjoy her pregnancy practice, she’s a great instructor and her DVD seems to be the newest of few out there that include a baby.

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