Yoga Poses and Practices to Avoid During Pregnancy

Jacqueline Buchanan
Yoga Poses and Practices to Avoid During Pregnancy

From delicious sashimi, to a cold beer on a sunny day, to a decadent chocolate mousse, or a complex Shiraz, the list of things we can’t eat, can’t drink and can’t do during pregnancy seems to grow on the daily! This can be frustrating, or feel limiting.

Luckily, the yoga "rules" have paradoxically remained constant. While there are things to avoid, there is still so much you can do.

So rather than focusing on the limits, let’s look at the opportunity (while first explaining the limits!).

Yoga Poses and Practices to Avoid

Closed Twists

Prenatal yoga is all about creating space for the baby. When you revolve your chair or revolve your triangle, you instead minimize space for the baby. It can also affect blood circulation to bubs, so make sure to only do open twists.

Prone or Belly Down Postures

After the first trimester it just isn’t comfortable to lie flat on your tummy, nor is it particularly good for the baby. So avoid postures like Cobra, Locust, or Bow Pose.

Major Backbends

Playing with major backbends like Wheel after the first trimester runs the risk of over-stretching (or worse, tearing!) the abdominals. They’re already getting a damn good stretch out thanks to bubs, so stick to milder backbends.

Depending on your flexibility and your body, Camel can be a lovely alternative if Full Wheel is something you’re craving.

Full Inversions

Once your baby is in position (head down), refrain from going upside down in poses like headstand, handstand, and even some arm balances. Bubs might get confused and change position!

Heated Yoga

Heated yoga, like Bikram, is best to avoid as you don’t want to raise your core temperature above a safe level. You also want to watch your hydration levels, and we all know how sweaty a heated class can get! So keep your H20 up and hit the heated studio after delivery.

Recommended Yoga Poses

While caution is definitely important, let’s remove some of the anxiety and pressure that sometimes comes with these rules/guidelines. Remember, you know what is best for you and your bubba.

So as you explore your yoga practice, tune into your innate instincts, connect with your baby, and listen to your body.

With modifications as your belly grows and throws off your center of gravity/balance, there are lots of poses to play with during your nine month gestation. So here's what you can do:

Lots of Standing Postures

For example, but not limited to: Warriors I, II, and III (next to a wall for balance), Extended Side Angle, Chair Pose, High and Low Lunge, Lizard Lunge, Half Splits, and lots more!

Grounding Postures

Try some grounding postures like Bound Angle, Child's Pose, Tadasana, Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana), Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana), Wide Leg Forward Fold, and Down Dog.

The important thing to remember is your body is producing a clever hormone called relaxin. This is fantastic prep for labor, however, it does mean you run the risk of over-stretching your muscles. So you have to be very careful and tune into your inner radio frequency.

Listen to your body and don’t push your limits; you can do that when bubs comes into the outside world and Daddy gives you a well deserved break.

Labor Preparation Poses

Use yoga to prepare you for the marathon of labor. There are great poses that strengthen your legs, hips, hamstrings, as well as poses to open and increase flexibility.

For example, Goddess Pose, the standing poses mentioned above, hip openers like Garland Pose (Malasana), Pigeon, and Lizard Lunge.

Meditation and Savasana (Modified of Course)

As the baby grows and puts pressure on the vena cava, you’ll need to modify any back down, or supine, postures and do them on your side — like Savasana. Use a bolster between your legs, and one to support your belly depending on how far along you are.

Rest into Savasana the same way you used to, just modified for bubba’s best interest.

So while there are things we need to do to practice safely, rather than focusing on what you can't do, take note of the limits and work around them. It may even enable you to access new and unusual sensations in familiar postures.

Yoga is fantastic for you and the baby, so keep up your practice with these guidelines in mind and focus on the opportunity rather than the limits.

We’d love to hear what poses the pregnant yogis out there love the most!