What You Need to Know About Prenatal Yoga

When you want to know if it’s safe to do yoga during pregnancy, the short answer is: Yes.

It’s common that expecting mothers will take up yoga when they find out they’re pregnant. Prenatal yoga is a great stress-reliever, helps improve your sleep, increases endurance, flexibility, strengthens your muscles needed during childbirth, and can help decrease side effects like shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, and lower back pain. Bonus: prenatal yoga classes can connect you with other moms-to-be.

While it’s safe to do yoga during pregnancy, some poses may need to be modified, and you should always make sure your instructor knows that you’re pregnant. You should avoid poses that will stretch your muscles (particularly your abdominal muscles) too much. When you’re pregnant, your body produces the hormone relaxin, making you more prone to strains, pulls, and other injuries. You should also steer clear of “hot” yoga or Bikram classes when pregnant, as overheating can endanger both your health and the health of your baby.

When bending, lead with your breastbone and extend your spine - this makes breathing easier because you’re making space for your ribs to move. Relaxing your glute muscles during yoga can help reduce or prevent sciatic pain and prevents injury to the tissue in your pelvis. Avoid compressing your abdomen while practicing yoga.

When bending forward while you’re seated, keep your balance by bracing a towel or yoga strap behind your feet and holding it with both hands. Lift your chest and bend from the hips - and if your belly is too big, sit on a rolled towel to elevate your body and open your legs to give your belly room.

If you’re going to work on twisting poses, avoid twisting from the waist and twist more from the shoulders, so you’re not putting pressure on your abdomen. Deep twists aren’t advisable in prenatal yoga, so only go as far as feels comfortable.

After your first trimester of pregnancy, it’s not recommended to do any poses on your back, as the blood flow to your uterus is reduced. Your center of gravity starts to shift during the second trimester, so any type of balancing poses should be done with the support of a chair or wall. 

Poses that are safe during pregnancy

  • Butterfly stretch
  • Cat-Cow
  • Cobra (first trimester only)
  • Seated forward bend (with modifications)
  • Side angle pose
  • Standing forward bend (with modifications)
  • Triangle pose (with modifications

Poses to avoid during pregnancy

  • Backbends
  • Balancing poses (unless you have support from a wall or chair)
  • Camel
  • Handstands
  • Headstands
  • Upward bow

When you’re pregnant and practicing yoga, it’s important to listen to your body. Stop at the first sign of discomfort. As your body changes, you’ll probably need more modifications, but a good instructor is helpful to guide you as you’re posing no matter what stage of pregnancy you’re in.

With your body continuously changing for the next several months, you’ll crave comfort and style more and more. Yoga Pants Cat has a great collection of maternity apparel that keeps you ready for your next trip to the mat.

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