First Trimester Yoga Tips: The Pre-Bump Bra Strap Rule

So, you’re in your first trimester of pregnancy (yay!).

Your body might feel different, but it doesn’t yet appear to be different. Instead of looking like there’s a baby in there, it really just looks like you ate a big burrito.

People are puzzled: pregnant or just pudgy?

In fact, aside from the “morning” sickness, sore breasts and hormonal hurricanes, let’s just call it as we see it, pumpkin — you don’t even look pregnant to yourself.

You may still wear the same clothes and still sleep on your belly. You may be the mama who sheepishly says “I’m 10 weeks along” instead of the one who beams while announcing  that she’s practically waddling into the delivery room. You may even still be taking your regular yoga class… but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to modify it a bit.

It’s important to remember that even if you don’t look or feel pregnant, you are. Your body, and your baby’s body, needs a little extra TLC.

There are a number of yoga tricks for each trimester, but my fave for the first 12 weeks is the “bra strap rule,” a super-simply, highly-effective guideline for torso twisting during pregnancy.

In non-pregnant yoga practice, deep twists are often encouraged to “wring out” the spine, “squeeze” the organs and create space in the trunk and torso. In prenatal yoga practice, though, such movement can stress the uterus where your baby is growing (which is why some prenatal yoga teachers eliminate twisting entirely). Problem is, many mamas crave twisting to help alleviate the aching back-collapsed chest-tired neck-itis that ails.

The bra strap rule is your middle-ground solution to prenatal spinal rotation, and it has three parts:

  1. Instead of playing a full-on game of twister with yourself, simply keep your baby facing the same direction as your pelvis.
  2. Then, gently twist your chest, shoulders and neck — the part of the torso above the bra strap line — for a subtle, but noticeable, opening of your upper body. Slowly build up to 25% of your normal rotation.
  3. As always, once you’re there, be sure to breathe deeply, consciously, deliciously.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, right?

It isn’t just for “yoga mamas,” either — any expecting mom can use this for twisty motions, like sitting in the driver’s seat and turning to reach something (or, ahem, someone) in the backseat.

Also, note that these are a few guidelines to help you get in to a habit that encourages optimal health. If you’re in your first trimester and you have already been a little bendy with your belly, no freak out required — simply start being mindful about moving more carefully. This is especially true early on, as your little one is really, really, REALLY little and not likely to be affected by your normal movements.

As your prenatal practice progresses and your baby bump starts to grow right under your nose, of course, you’re more likely to remember to turn without totally twisting your uterus. Until then, let the bra strap rule be your reminder that your oven’s turned on, baking and requires a watchful eye.

For more on prenatal yoga info, also check out Deb’s Blog, written by the woman who first introduced me to prenatal yoga bra straps.

Please note that this article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice. If you practice yoga throughout your pregnancy, it is recommended that you work with a qualified and certified prenatal yoga teacher. Always consult your health professionals for guidance on what’s best for you and your baby.  

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4 Responses to First Trimester Yoga Tips: The Pre-Bump Bra Strap Rule

  1. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much, I have been afraid to do ANYTHING. Being a yoga teacher myself, I know what can go wrong and guidelines, but I wasn’t sure if it applied so early in the pregnancy.

    • Kelly says:

      You’re welcome, Sarah! Just check with your medical professionals and a good, certified prenatal teacher, and you’ll be on your way! Enjoy your pregnancy!

  2. hannah says:

    i just took a very intense yoga class for the first time since i got pregnant (i am 5 weeks) i felt out of breat really fast and my heart beat faster. i told the teacher i was pregnant and he modified one pose for me, but in the end we did a supine twist with eagle legs and it felt really uncomfortable in my belly and i felt a pinching sensation. i modified the pose on the other side. my question is if i could have already done any harm in those few minutes?

    • Kelly says:

      Hello, Hannah. Congrats on your pregnancy! Check with your doctor but, in most cases, it’s very unlikely that a few moments like what you described would cause harm to a growing baby of only 5 weeks. I would recommend only gentle twisting “above the bra strap” from here on out, and this is a wonderful time for gentler yoga practices. Pregnancy doesn’t mean not working out (on the contrary, physical exercise can be excellent), but it is a time to really tune in, decrease the intense classes, and slow down if you’re always “on the go.” Trust your instincts, and check with your health care professionals every step of the way, as they’ll have your specific medical history in mind. Best of luck for a wonderful rest of your pregnancy.

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