Sometimes I’m one of the first to know. A student pulls me aside to share the happy news of their pregnancy. It’s often in the early stages, less than ten weeks. I’m so grateful they feel comfortable confiding in me. It’s an honor to share their joy and be their secret keeper. It also gives me the opportunity to guide them through a safe and modified practice.
Yoga can be a great activity for pregger mamas. But, not all types of yoga or all poses are a good fit. If you are pregnant and practicing yoga, I highly recommend the following:
- Check with your doctor or midwife and make yoga or any other physical activity is okay for you and your baby. As your body and pregnancy evolves, be sure to check in again with your health care provider if you notice any concerns or discomforts that develop.
- Consult the ACOG’s (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) information on Exercise During Pregnancy. ACOG recommends modified yoga, but to avoid hot yoga.
- Find a teacher with prenatal yoga experience and training. (Not all teachers are trained or feel comfortable modifying for pregnancy, be sure to ask about their experience and comfort level.) You can visit Yoga Alliance and search for a teacher with the RPYT – Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher designation. This indicates they have completed prenatal yoga specialty training and have at least 30 hours of prenatal yoga teaching experience.
- Attend a prenatal specific class taught by an experienced teacher. These classes are generally a more gentle and included modified poses. Some of the poses, breathing techniques, meditation practices can be helpful with childbirth. You can also get great ideas for modifying the practice on your own at home or in a general population class.
- Make sure your instructor knows that you are pregnant. It’s not always obvious!
Here are a few general guidelines for practicing yoga while pregnant:
- Entire Pregnancy
- Reduce intensity and soften practice.
- Open twists or isolate twists to the upper torso.
- Avoid overheating.
- Be cautious when balancing.
- Lie on the left side, supporting the head and top leg for savasana/resting pose.
- First Trimester
- Eliminate inversion (hips over heart). This includes down dog, headstand, and handstand.
- Eliminate cross body twists.
- Second Trimester
- Gentle inversions can be reintroduced.
- Eliminate belly prone poses.
- Avoid lying prone on your back.
- Minimize depth/compacting of forward folds.
- Minimize depth of backbends.
- Third Trimester
- At about 35 weeks, especially if baby is head down, minimize time spent in inversions to about 5 breaths. This includes downward facing dog and wide leg forward fold.
Pregnant yogis have a special place in my heart. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I really began to appreciate the practice of yoga. For me, it was the one activity that I could do that felt good on my body. Yoga always seem to fit and change with how I was feeling. It became a staple through all three of my pregnancies.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy pregnancy. Namaste!