For many, inversions (turning yourself upside down) are a favorite part of their yoga practice. One that has many benefits including improving blood flow, calming the nervous system and balancing hormones.
Gentle inversions like legs up the wall and Supported Bridge are usually a standard inclusion in Prenatal yoga classes, and help to relieve tired, aching legs and swollen feet caused by the extra weight of pregnancy and circulation changes.
Advanced inversions during pregnancy, however, are an entirely different issue and one that even yoga teachers tend to disagree on.
To Invert or Not to Invert?
Some like to play is safe, and for that reason recommend the practice of inverting should be avoided during pregnancy altogether. Others suggest after the five month mark, advanced inversions should be stopped to avoid confusing the baby (which, when you consider they also suggest not practicing during the first trimester, only leaves one month for turning yourself upside down anyway).
Then there are others who advocate that it's totally up to the individual woman to decide, and if she has a strong inversion practice prior to pregnancy and continues to feel good doing so, then she can continue. Others simply ask 'why risk it?'
You only have to look as far as Instagram to see that there are many women who continue to practice inversions right up until the day they give birth with no problems whatsoever, although it is unlikely that advanced inversions will be added as standard instruction to prenatal yoga classes anytime soon.
Keep This In Mind
While there is no definitive answer as to whether you should include inversions in your yoga practice while pregnant, there are some key ideas that most yogis (and specifically those with prenatal experience) would agree on.
- Pregnancy is not the time to be challenging your body to try anything new (It's already creating life! That's amazing enough!)
- Pregnancy is a time to tune in to your body, which is why many women are naturally drawn to yoga at this time, as this is one of the main principles of the practice.
- The risk of injury is greater during pregnancy due to hormones which are working to relax ligaments and tendons to create room for the growing baby and in preparation for birth.
- Pregnancy and motherhood require a great deal of surrender and letting go of ego-based goals. It is also worthwhile looking at both the benefits and the risks to decide for yourself whether you will continue including inversions in your practice.
There are definitely benefits to practicing inversions while pregnant. Here are just a few!
- Reverses the flow of blood, which brings fresh oxygen rich blood to the brain, helping you to renew energy and improve concentration.
- Stimulates the lymphatic system which plays a key part in removing toxins and keeping the immune system healthy.
- Calms the nervous system creating feelings of balance and calm.
- Some inversions may also help to improve digestion, balance hormones, stimulate the throat chakra, and can help promote a sleep.
There are also risks when practicing inversions, so make sure to be careful to protect both yourself, and your baby!
- Causing injury by falling due to lacking core strength or changes to blood pressure.
- Overstraining due to hormones in the body that work to relax ligaments and tendons.
- It has been suggested that inverting may cause the baby to turn the wrong way up, though this fact has not been proven.
- Risk of passing out or feeling sick due to changes in blood pressure.
Ultimately, it is up to the individual mother to decide what is right for her and her baby on the yoga mat. After all, it is this practice of tuning in to your own intuition which will serve you best during pregnancy, birth and motherhood.
Did you practice inversions while pregnant? Share some of your insight with us below!