go forth and inspire.

5 months pregnant, modified second series ashtanga practice

July 17, 2014


This is my current modified Ashtanga Second Series Practice (plus the first two postures of 3rd) for 2nd trimester pregnancy ... and other such real life occurrences. 


DISCLAIMER: This is NOT meant to be a guide for inexperienced Ashtanga or yoga practitioners who are pregnant (or otherwise). If you are an experienced, pregnant or injured Ashtangi and this gives you some ideas for a modified second series practice, great! I love this adapted practice, it feels amazing and rejuvinating!


FURTHER ASIDES: I have made posture modifications, deleted postures, added breaths and openers that feel right for my body for this moment in time, while staying as close to the series and as true to tradition as my changing body and mental state will allow.

I have been dancing since 1983, practicing Yoga since 2000, practicing Ashtanga since 2003, and Second Series since 2009. This is also my second pregnancy practicing pregnant. That is to say, that even as a somewhat *experienced* practitioner, there is no agenda in my pregnancy practice other than to feel good, balanced, healthy and connected to the little life i am carrying. Above all I listen to my body and the one growing in me and adjust my daily time/effort on the mat (or not) as needed. 


This was close to a 2 hour practice (with distractions), sped up 8X.


Now go forth and inspire :)



For the yoga nerd, what i am modifying:

  • Surya Namaskaras - 1 A & 1 B shown, usually 5 & 3. Jump backs and forwards still feel good (less awkward than stepping), although increasingly having to externally rotate legs as i jump forward to accommodate for a growing belly.

  • Parivritta Trikonasana - I stopped doing the twist for a while, but this feels accessible again (in moderation) as my uterus has moved up. Belly stays on the inside of front thigh, with the focus on opening upper back not deep twisting.

  • Parivritta Parsvakonasana - No twist, just working leg and spine extension or minimal twist with hands in anjali mudra, focus on opening side line, leg and front of hip, not twist.

  • Uttita Hasata Pangusthasana -  I have added this back in before breaking for second, it feels necessary. No fold forward, two arm catch once the leg comes back to the front, working on pulling the femur back deep into the hip socket (this gets into some pregnancy related hamstring/hip tightness). 

  • Pashasana - Wide leg squat, 5 breaths center, then wrapping around one leg at a time while working to straighten “back” arm.

  • Krounchasana - extra 5 breaths extended, focus on drawing the femur back into the hip socket, before drawing leg in (slightly)

  • Shalabhasana A & B - preparation, lower  into chatarunga before pressing back and stepping forward (mimics lower down, although harder... so i don’t always do that), but no 1/2 vinyasa between sides A - lunge low arms B - lunge arms up, back bending (very difficult outside ;)

  • Bhekasana - preparation same as a above. No 1/2 vin between sides. Lunge, then fold back leg into bhekasana/lunge variation.

  • (ADD IN)  Hanumasana - hey, it’s not traditional here, but it feels great and sometimes it is about that.

  • Dhanurasana - hands and knee variation

  • Ushtra - Laghu (less able to drop all the way to head and hold full 5 breaths) - Kapot - all fine as is.

  • Supta Vajrasana - as my uterus has moved up i can more comfortably get my heels under my belly allowing my knees to come forward again, usually i can hold toes again and do not feel it in my s.i. joint (it didn’t feel good to hold my toes this day, however so i let go). Earlier in pregnancy, because of alignment issues above, i just did upper back arches not drop backs.

  • Bakasana B - usually don’t jump straight in these days

  • Ardha Matsyendrasana - twist opposite way with toe hip grab, ubhaya padangusthasana transition between sides

  • Eka Pada Sirsasana A (no B, fold forward) - extended leg twist prep (i don’t know the name of this posture as it isn’t an ashtanga pose, but again it feels right in pregnancy. If my hip muscles feel super tight i don’t put my leg behind my head as it goes right into my SI, sometimes i opt for a hip opener instead. I didn’t do this posture until my uterus moved up, it felt like i was folding on the baby.

  • Dwi Pada - Sometimes this feels fine, other times i just do a open badakonasana or supta konasana -ish thing.

  • Yoganidrasana - same as Dwi

  • Tittibhasana A - fine in a gentle approach. B - easy hands behind ankles (not sure why this feels so much more compressing than doing Dwi...) C&D - i usually just opt out.

  • Karandavasana - sometimes i just do Pincha again for 10 + breaths, other times i fold one leg in at a time. Folding both in is fine when i am stable, but it makes other people nervous and as there is really no need, i just don’t go there.

  • Mayurasana - Elbows above belly, focusing more on arm engagement than shifting my body weight into my arms, alternate leg lifts for 5 breaths each (this is not easy!)

  • Nakrasana - I just have NO desire to even modify this these days - just none.

  • Vatayanasana - No full vinyasa back or between sides, i only jump back and forward. Front leg is wider to stablize.

  • Parighasana & Gomukhasana  - I often skip the 1/2 vinyasas between sides, it just gets to be a lot. These are especially awesome if you can get a small child or friend to shine a flashlight directly into your eyes while you do them - haha.

  • Supta Urdhva Pada Vajrasana - does not feel good, at all. I could do the final part, but i don’t.

  • 7 headstands - i didn’t do them in this video, nor do i always do them. Sometimes i skip vinyasas between, do a cat and cow or something that organically mimics something akin to a 1/2 vinyasa.

  • Vasishthasana & Vishvamitrasana - usually pretty accessible strangely (minus feeling a lot heaver on the balancing arm), i often keep my focus down for balance. Aside, for some strange reason i did the wrong side first for vasishtasana in the video ;)

  • Kasyapasana & Chakorasana - after my uterus moved up, some days very gentle versions of these feel good, but if my SI is activated i don’t go there. Or if i just don’t feel like it.

  • Handstands  - keeping it playful and safe. Some days i can hold for a while, some days i keep my legs bent, some days i use a wall (it feels good on the psoas to play toward vrschikasana-- at the wall)

  • Closing - fairly obvious modifications (the video ends), but it is clear what feels bad and when.

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