Adjustment of Bikram Sequence for Pregnancy

For Preggers

In general, no postures should be done that compress the heart, diaphragm or abdomen, with backbends avoid pushing hips forward of knees, and separate feet slightly in standing and forward bend poses for balance.  No standing head to knee, separate leg forehead to knee, rabbit, cobra, locus, full locust, or floor bow.  These are substituted with pregnancy safe postures.  In Savasana pregnant women rest on their side and utilize long, deep, slow breathing.

Here’s a compilation of Rajashree’s pregnancy video and review of other Bikram yoga websites for maintaining a Bikram yoga practice during pregnancy safely and with integrity in your current class:

First Breathing Exercise:  Pranayama breathing – does not change, feet together as comfortable as one can, this may be adjusted for balance as the pregnancy progresses.

Posture #1:  Half-Moon/Back Bend – feet opened to hip width distance, during the back bend hips do not go forward beyond your toes.

Posture #2:  Hands to Feet – feet hip distance and grasp back of heels with hands, bringing head between legs.

Posture #3 & #4:  Awkward & Eagle Poses – essentially the same.

Posture #5:  Standing Head to Knee – can be altered by simply raising a bent leg up or taking this time to rest, remember to be considerate of your fellow yogis by standing or sitting still as possible, drink water if you feel you must.

Posture #6-9:  Standing Bow, Balancing Stick, Standing Separate Leg Stretching, & Triangle are all done the same, being aware that balance may be more difficult in the standing bow posture and doing near a wall/balancing bar may be needed.

Posture #10:  Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee – adjusted by bending at the waist and leaning forward only slightly with arms on back, stretching without compression.

Posture #11 & #12: Tree and Toe Stand Posture – no change
.

Posture #13:  Savasana (ie. Dead Body Pose) – initial Savasana is done on back with knees bent before wind removing pose and then remainder is done on the side, alternating sides between the postures.

Posture #14: Wind Removing Pose – each side is done regularly but when both legs are brought up during the first set the legs are pulled to side, around abdomen, on second set the knees are brought up, feet grasped with hands and the soles brought together and knees drop out without any pressure on abdomen.

In between postures in Bikram a sit up is conducted, in pregnancy getting up you simply push yourself up with your arms from the side.

The spine segment of the series is where most of the changes of the original Bikram series are altered to avoid pressure on the abdomen but continuing to strengthen the spine.

Posture #15-18: Cobra, Locust, Full Locust, and Floor Bow are not done.  Instead these are substituted with the following:

Posture #15: Half-fish posture in place of Cobra- lie on back, arms are brought over head and palms placed flat on floor at shoulder by the ears, fingertips pointing down and palms are pushed with the upper body being brought toward the ceiling and top of head placed on floor, arms are brought down to side of body, hands on floor palms facing down, both legs are kept straight on the floor from hips to heels and chest brought toward the ceiling as high as possible.  To release bring hands next to head again, push against the floor and release head.

Posture #16 & 17: Kneeling Locust pose in place of Locust and Full Locust – come on all fours, knees below heels and arms below shoulders, chin up, inhale and lift right leg up as far as goes, then left leg, role forward.  Between these postures, practitioner sits back on heels. Rest on heels during Full Locust and move to side Savasana when the remainder of class moves to Savasana prior to Floor Bow.

Posture #18: Bridge replaces Floor Bow – bend both knees, separate feet hip distance apart and bring to hips, grab heels from side, lift hips off the floor, neck straight and shoulders on the ground, hold.  Push arms and elbows against the floor.  To come out slowly bring hips down and legs down.

Posture #19:  Fixed Firm Pose – the same.

Posture #20:  Half-Tortoise – sit down with knees open, otherwise, no change.

Posture #21 Camel – done without change, just be gentle with pushing your hips forward.

Posture #22:  Bound angle or Cat-Cow can be done in place of Rabbit. Rajashree in her video does Bound Angle – sit and bring soles of the feet together and gently press knees down.
 A Denver yoga studio suggests substituting Cat-Cow – start on all fours, bringing the wrists underneath the shoulders and knees under the hips, head in neutral position.  On an inhale curl the toes under, drop the belly, gaze toward the ceiling working from spine to tailbone, so neck is the last movement.  On the exhale, the feet tops are released to the floor, the spine is rounded, head is dropped, and eyes look toward the navel.  Repeat.

Posture #23:  Head to Knee – adjusted by grasping feet and bending to side, avoiding compression.

Posture #24:  Stretching pose is done as separate leg stretching on first set.  Legs are separated apart as much as possible and toes are grasped, bend knees if necessary.  Second set is completed with Gentle Pose- sit and bring soles together to body, hands on knees, push and lift shoulder up one by one, until both elbows are straight.

Posture #25 Spine Twist – done with a straight leg on the ground.

Posture #26 and final breathing exercise:  Blowing in Firm Pose is the same.
Instead of a final Savasana on the back, her yoga pregnancy video is completed with another breathing exercise.  Sitting in lotus position with relaxed breathing in and out, each to a count of six and between a brief pause, completing this with the rest of your class.

~Namaste

References
Bikram Yoga Website.  (Accessed: August 15, 2011) http://www.bikramyoga.com/Rajashree/rajashree_preg_yoga.php

Choudhury R. Pregnancy Yoga Video.

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