The Question: I’ve heard of pregnant women doing yoga but I’m a little scared to try it myself. Is it safe for my baby if I do yoga? ~ Lara
Yoga is a really beautiful practice for women to begin or continue during their pregnant months. Not only does it allow them to stay active, stretchy, and flexible, it also keeps them calm during difficult situations and helps to bring the beauty and importance of breath back to mind.
A lot of women actually come to yoga for the first time while they’re pregnant, again, as a way to stay moving and connect with the breath. And yes, this is a great thing! Yoga classes, specifically prenatal classes (look for any offerings at your nearby studios!) emphasize breathing, stretching, and relaxation—what sounds better than that?
Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re on your mat and expecting.
- Avoid deep twists and abdominal work. You don’t want to put pressure on your belly, so when twisting, always do it in an open position. Core work can be dangerous too (especially oblique work) and actually pull the abdominal muscles apart.
- Don’t do extreme backbends or forward folds. If you’ve been a yogi for a long time, backbends (like Upward-Facing Bow or Wheel) may be okay, but if you’ve never taken a class before, stay away from them. Forward folds are good, as long as your feet are separated wide apart.
- Stay away from hot yoga. A heated room may cause overheating, which can be bad for the fetus. And remember, of course, you want to stay hydrated! If you’re used to going to a class that is a little bit more heated than others, try to get a spot near the door.
- After the second trimester, stay off your back. As I’m sure your doctor will tell you, being on your back for extended periods of time after the second trimester should be avoided, and that lesson translates to the yoga mat as well. Instead of taking a traditional savasana, ask your instructor for variations with blankets, blocks, and bolsters.
Of course, with yoga during pregnancy, it all comes down to doing what you’re most comfortable with doing. If you’ve never tried a Headstand or a Handstand before, being seven months pregnant isn’t the time to experiment.
Always inform your teacher of how many months along you are, and ask him or her to give you any tips for your practice. The most important thing is to listen carefully to your body. If you feel uncomfortable, get out of the pose and ask your instructor for a different variation. Modification is always key!