Is it safe to do yoga lunges while pregnant? This is a great question and one that comes up a lot in prenatal yoga, (well a lot of questions come up in prenatal yoga) and for good reason!
There is a lot of contradictory information available about pregnancy, yoga, and the two together. While some of it is consistent, like avoiding heated styles of yoga or closed twists, there is some information available that’s out of step, and may be more experiential than science based.
Not to mention a visit to Dr. Google, and all of a sudden doing a lunge in prenatal yoga will cause all kinds of problems — from preterm labor to a baby that comes out of the womb in a lunge position.
Ok, I made that last one up, but you get where I'm going.
So to answer this question, yes it is safe to do lunges in prenatal yoga with a few things in mind:
Only Do What Feels Good
Before starting any kind of exercise program, get the ok from your doc or midwife. And most importantly, only do what feels good — come from a place of nourishment for your body and gently making space for your baby. If anything starts to not feel quite right, stop and adjust so it feels amazing.
If you can’t make it feel amazing, don’t do it.
Doing Lunges During Pregnancy
Traditional low and high yoga lunges are a fantastic way to strengthen and lengthen the muscles in the legs. The hip flexors shorten and tighten when you're sitting at your desk all day, or relaxing in front of the TV.
Lunges strengthen the muscles for delivery like the glutes and adductors. Mentally focus on building strength in this pose rather than opening the hips for two reasons.
Firstly, this will help physically during the marathon of labour, and help the pelvic floor regain its strength post delivery which is vital for a solid recovery.
Secondly, your clever pregnant body makes a hormone called relaxin which makes you super supple already, so there’s no need to make opening your primary goal. Relaxin increases flexibility and purposely causes ligaments to relax to help the body open up for birth.
Mamas-to-be often find they can go deeper in most poses than they could pre-pregnancy. This isn't necessarily a good thing, as it can cause overstretching. And overstretching can cause pelvic instability, pulled muscles or ligaments, and added stress on an already stressed physical body.
Focus on building strength during prenatal yoga, rather than attempting to fold deeper, or get the hips lower in Lizard Lunge.
How to Do Lunges During Pregnancy
When moving into High or Low Lunge while pregnant, take care not to overstretch and cause instability in your pelvic floor. Only work to about 75 per cent of your normal/natural range of motion.
The moment you feel yourself pushing your limit, take a step back and remember your body is extra supple at the moment, and could do more damage than good. Not only will it be a good exercise for your body, it'll be a good exercise for your mind too.
Modify it like this:
- Move into a Lunge from Table Top position.
- Place one leg forward so your knee is directly above your ankle.
- Depending on how far along you are and the size of the bun in your oven, you may need to wiggle your front foot to the side to make more space for the bubba.
- Either tuck the toes of the back foot under to relieve pressure in the knee, or simply press into the earth with the top of the foot. Do what feels best for your body right now.
- Place both hands on the front thigh and breath into the front of the back leg, or the hip flexor.
- Extend out through the crown of head and down through the tailbone to create space in the spine.
- Hold for 5-6 breaths and switch sides.
Yoga lunges can do so much good for the body, and with these tips in mind, they can do so much good for the pregnant body, too! Remember to focus on building strength rather than flexibility, modify the pose, and don't move deeper than your natural range of accessibility.