Yoga during pregnancy has immense benefits and with your changing body, there is a need for you to maintain safe yoga practices in each trimester.
Whether you are a seasoned yogini or just
considering starting, there are ample benefits to maintaining a yoga practice
during your pregnancy. Yoga is not only a great way to keep fit. It has the
added benefits of creating a deeper awareness of your body and your mind, connecting
you to your bub, and helps you prepare for labour and birth.
If you have maintained a yoga practice for a while,
it’s probably safe to continue.You may have to slow down or modify some
postures as your term progresses; your fitness and practice level will dictate
what changes you need to make. Consult your teacher, as well as your doctor,
once you have found out about your pregnancy.
Although changes may be hard to see on the outside, internally, your body is
vigorously creating organs, connecting tissues, and assembling the necessary
networks to sustain and nurture the life growing within you. Be kind to
yourself and allow your practice to be secondary to rest and nourishment.
If you are new and thinking of starting yoga, it may
be advisable to wait until you are past
14 weeks. Beginning with specific
antenatal yoga classes can safely ease you into a regular practice.Always
consult your health care professional before commencing any exercise program
One thing to remember is, pregnancy will shift your
centre of gravity. The new weight you will be putting on and carrying will
displace your posture, and your body’s way of compensating could lead to lower
back pains. It’s great to focus on
standing postures in the first trimester, to strengthen the back, legs and
abdomen, and promote circulation. If you find yourself particularly nauseous at
this time as well, continuing your yoga practice can help alleviate your nausea
(as well as swollen ankles and constipation!)
Keep in mind that, sadly, the first trimester has a higher risk of miscarriage
than other stages in your pregnancy. It’s important to listen to your body and
take rest if that’s what you require. You can still participate in some breathing
exercises that accompany most yoga practices- these will have a great benefit
on your overall wellbeing and may help calm the restless mind as your body
Postures to avoid
or modifyduring the first trimester
(Moksha or Bikram) are discouraged throughout pregnancy, but particularly for
the first trimester. The concern is that progesterone lowers blood pressure,
and heat can cause fainting. Studiesare inconclusive about possible birth
defects due to heat. Consult your doctor whether it’s safe for you.
focus on upper back and shoulders, rather than deep abdomen. Implantation of
the embryo and the attachment of the placenta occur in the first trimester, abdominal
twists may disturb the uterus and cause complications.
strengthening: planks may be okay, but keep in mind
that your uterus is trying to expand and over-strengthening is
Prone(belly-down) strengthening postures may become uncomfortable as your term
progresses. Also, you don’t want to overstretch the abdomen— avoid deep bends.
Back-bendingcan feel great, but stay gentle and proceed slowly. Avoid deep bends.
are not recommended because they divert blood away from the uterus. If you
absolutely cannot live without them, don’t hold longer than 20 seconds.
on your back(shavasana) past 16 weeks. Modify to a left
side-lying shavasana for 20 minutes after class. Left side to prevent unwanted
pressure on the vena cava (which is on the right) and moves the blood from the
lower body—namely your uterus— back
to the heart. Being able to relax on cue after physical activity will help you
Hopefully the rapid changes (and morning sickness)
have subsided and you feel somewhat like yourself again! As you’re starting to
get that pregnancy glow, you may find new strength and endurance capacity. While
physical activity is encouraged, remember to check in with your health care
practitioner to ensure your pregnancy is complication-free and that you can
continue your practice.
Remember not to push yourself too much: slowing down or
taking a break during a particularly active vinyasa flow can be more valuable
than over-doing it.
It’s equally important to not over-do the stretching
during your pregnancy. Although it may feel really good to open up and feel
increased flexibility, use caution. Your body is producing a hormone called relaxin to soften joints and ligaments,and
loosen your muscles to prepare for labour. It’s easy to sprain or dislocate
tissue, so try to not be tempted to extend beyond your regular range of motion.
A lot of advice from the first trimester can be
translated into the second. Here are some additional guidelines to consider:
Postures to avoid
or modifyduring the second trimester
positions (belly down) are probably becoming
really uncomfortable, the more you begin to show. Substitute with table top,
and arch your back up and down as you would with cat/cow, alternating with
extended arm/leg to achieve the same benefits
You may want
to reduce the time you hold Asanasso you don’t
over-exert yourself or damage joints as you try to balance your rapidly
bends or postures that compress the stomach.
Modify them by widening your feet to hip width in standing postures, or sitting
wide-kneed to create room for your protruding bump. These will stretch your
inner groin and thighs to accommodate labour. Downward dog is still good for
alleviating lower back pains!
non-weight bearing back bendssuch as the
camel pose, as deeper bends that focus on the lower back can put too much
strain on the abdomen, and pressure uterus, can lead to diastasis recti (abdominal separation, yikes!)
postures can become unpredictable as your weight
and centre of gravity continue to shift. Practice near a wall so you can brace
yourself if the need arises.
The final stretch is here! The last trimester is a
good time to put emphasis on more meditative or breathing-focused (pranayama)
practices, which can help you find your grounding during labour and delivery. Your
focus should shift to more antenatal postures as well, to open up the hips and cervix.
Plus, a lot of positions may be uncomfortable due to your baby’s size.
If you are an apt yogini and yoga has always been a lifestyle for you, feel
free to continue challenging poses.And, if you’re not, that’s great too, just
do what feels right for you. Your teacher should be fully supportive. Be
mindful of your breath (even more than before!) It’s a great guide for making
modifications to postures or slowing the pace. You can use breath to really
bond with your bub and figure out what works for both of you, in this last
As with the first and second trimesters, carry on
with avoiding or modifying postures as advised. Some others to think of at this
Positions to avoid
or modify during the third trimester
inversions after 36 weeks. Your baby has or is in the
process of “flipping” his head down to the uterus and inversion could disturb
that. Inversions may also worsen conditions like heartburn.
As with inversions, balancing can be really detrimental at this stage due to safety and
the risk of falling over. Enlist in the help of your partner for balancing
Whether you are doing yoga at home on your own or at
a class, use your practice to gain mental clarity and a deeper awareness of
your changing body. Yoga can be an incredible tool to really connect with your
baby, through breath and movement, as well as prepare your body for labour and
birth. Cherish the feelings and sensations, and enjoy experimenting with what
works for you and your bub! Namaste!
Welcome to Babyinfo – the ultimate pregnancy and newborn information guide. We are here to help you find all the pregnancy and baby info you need to make the most beautiful experience of your life even better.
Our team is comprised of an amazing mix of experienced mothers, recently pregnant women, and editors with tremendous medical knowledge in the fields of gynaecology and childbirth.
Think of us as your friendly advisors, here to give you honest, easy to understand and authentic information. We are here to be your support at this crucial time in your life, when you need it the most.
Note: This website is in no way meant to replace doctors, hospitals, or other healthcare providers that may be utilized by current mothers or mothers-to-be. All mothers are advised to see a doctor for medical advice and the appropriate care before, during, and after pregnancy.