You are pregnant and excited, maybe a little perplexed and overwhelmed. The hormones are kicking in and going off balance, and that is why to know the do’s and don’ts of yoga poses during pregnancy is so important. Yoga during pregnancy is beneficial for pregnant women both mentally and physically. It is advised to practice prenatal yoga even if you are new to yoga. Prenatal yoga during pregnancy helps and prepares you for childbirth making it easier for women during labour. Also, it promotes your baby’s health and well-being.
Did you know that Pregnancy is looked differently by various cultures? Whereat one hand you are told to be extra cautious and stay in bed all day. While others advise you to stay active and fit through yoga and exercise.
Therefore, be rest assured of the fact that Yoga is Safe. Scientific evidence proves yoga during pregnancy is beneficial and healthy for both the mommy-to-be and the baby-to-be.
Why Yoga Poses are important during pregnancy?
With pregnancy comes a whole lot of changes to a woman’s body including aches and pain all over. During this time, a pregnant woman’s body is big on hormonal changes. Yoga during pregnancy, on the other hand, helps the body to become stronger, calm and balanced. It also increases blood circulation that helps to reduce the swelling in the body.
Yoga during pregnancy has a bucket load of benefits for pregnant women and babies. Prenatal yoga poses helps pregnant women to:
- Sleep better
- Feel less restless and anxious
- Imbibe endurance needed during labour
- Relieves morning sickness, back pain and shortness of breath
- Increases core strength
- Prepares for the stress of being a new parent
Thus, we have curated a few yoga dos and don’ts for pregnancy that a pregnant woman needs to keep in mind.
Do’s and Don’ts of Yoga during Pregnancy
1. Consult your Doctor and Yoga Trainer
Before you enrol in a prenatal yoga class or begin to practise yoga during pregnancy at any stage, please speak with your doctor. Enquire, if you can practice yoga during pregnancy depending on your condition.
Once your doctor gives you the green signal, the next step is to inform your yoga trainer. So that your yoga trainer will be able to modify yoga poses for pregnancy according to your trimester. Also, you will know if you should practice yoga during your first trimester as this is usually a high-risk period of having a miscarriage.
Also, many pregnant women will not have the knowledge on do’s and don’ts of yoga during pregnancy. Thus you may need guidance and support of the yoga instructor.
2. Slow and Steady Pregnancy Yoga
Do not be in a hurry to finish any sequence or routine during yoga during pregnancy. Take time to perform each yoga pose for pregnancy as your body needs to be more mindful. Taking breaks in between is advised to avoid any kind of pressure on the body. Do what feels right for your body. If there is any yoga pose that hinders movement due to pregnancy, ask your yoga teacher to modify it or perform alternate yoga pose that you feel comfortable in.
3. Use Props for Pregnancy Yoga Exercises
As your body changes during pregnancy, you’ll notice that certain Yoga poses won’t feel as comfortable or attainable as they did before. Use props to adapt to your practice as necessary.
For instance, place your hands on blocks when you do Standing Forward Folds or balancing poses. Or use a strap in Seated Forward Folds to keep your back straight. Sit up on a bolster or a folded blanket if you round your back in seated postures. Also, the wall can help with balance in standing postures too.
4. Avoid yoga on an empty stomach
Usually, yoga is performed on an empty stomach, however, during pregnancy, it can make the mother feel dizzy or nauseous. Especially for those who experience morning sickness, they must have something light to eat before practising yoga, keeping a gap of 15-20 minutes.
5. Don’t Overexert or Dehydrate during Yoga
Being over-enthusiastic during yoga is one thing but you need to be careful as well about your heart rate and breath. Take a break the moment you feel tired, dizzy or shortness of breath. Keep a bottle of water next to you always taking a few sips only. Even though it is advised not to drink during yoga but being pregnant you will need more liquids than usual.
6. Avoid Certain Pranayama (breathing) Yoga Poses (Exercises)
Deep breathing is beneficial for Yoga during pregnancy. However, asanas that require shallow or rapid breathing especially Kapal Bhati Pranayama is strictly a NO during pregnancy. It restricts the flow of oxygen to your baby and could even make you feel dizzy or nauseous.
Instead, begin to practice deep inhalations through the nose and exhalations through the mouth which is also known as the birthing breath. This will prepare you during the birthing process keeping you focused at the moment during labor.
6 Pregnancy Yoga Styles are highly beneficial and tested over a period of time;
6 Tips for Safe Pregnancy Yoga Poses
A curated list of yoga poses (asanas) for all pregnant mommies is here for that will benefit any discomfort felt during each trimester. These calming poses will help to ease back pain, cure stress and anxiety, indigestion and other such pregnancy-related ailments.
To avoid any risks caused by stretching, bending or twisting during yoga for pregnant women the following Yoga Poses (asanas) are recommended – especially during pregnancy.
i) Sitting Yoga Poses During Pregnancy
The idea of practicing yoga during pregnancy is to be comfortable while doing it. Hence, starting with sitting yoga poses (asanas) during pregnancy is a meditative process, preparing you to relax. Start with Alternate Nostril Breathing pose (Anulom Vilom) as it opens up your air passages giving you a clearer mind and letting go of all the pregnancy woes. Other poses such as Knee to Ankle Pose, Lotus Pose, and Butterfly Pose improve flexibility in the hip and groin region and do a great job in alleviating fatigue and pain.
Click here to Understand the Step-by-step method of Alternate Breathing Pose.
ii) Hip Openers for Pregnant Women
Yoga poses such as Warrior II, Triangle Pose, Half-Moon Pose, and Bound Angle Pose, increase flexibility in and around your hips giving you comfort during labor. Especially, the Triangle Pose shifts your focus giving a mental and physical balance along with stretching your hips and reducing pain in the lower back.
iii) Yoga Poses for pregnancy – On All Fours
Yoga poses such as Cat-Cow Pose help to retain the optimal position of the baby which is head down and back to your belly. It also increases blood circulation that helps in nourishing the reproductive organs. Other yoga poses that you can practice are
- Downward-Facing Dog Pose
- Dolphin Pose
- Bridge Pose
- High Plank Pose (using blocks)
iv) Standing Yoga Poses During Pregnancy
Yoga poses such as the Standing Forward Fold, it is not necessary to touch your forehead to your shin but instead keep a hip-width distance that will allow and make room for your belly.
Also, when practising pre-natal Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) pose, you can use an alternative to Standing Forward Fold pose with Camper’s Pose that allows space for the belly and opens up your hips.
v) Side Stretches for Pregnancy Yoga
Practising bending yoga poses during pregnancy can be difficult, exhausting or even overcrowded. Thus, performing side stretching yoga poses (asanas) for pregnancy is a relief and comforting especially since the abdomen feels heavy. Yoga poses such as Side Plank (with variations), Standing Side Pose and Gate Pose help with stretching muscles on your waist and hips keeping you fit. (Keeping the muffin tops away!!)
Also, to relieve the belly weight, practice the restorative yoga pose – Wide-Knee Child’s Pose. This yoga pose will help you stretch your back alleviating all the stress from your back and hips.
vi) Lying Down Poses
To end a good yoga practice, finish it off with poses such as Corpse Pose or the Legs Up on the wall pose to relieve yourself of any stiffness, sore muscles or swollen ankles – a common symptom during pregnancy.
7 Tips for Yoga Poses to Avoid during Pregnancy
i) Yoga Poses where you Twist too Much
Avoid any yoga poses during pregnancy that requires you to do deep twists from the belly such as the Half Spinal Twist Pose. This pose will compress the internal organs, including the uterus. Even poses such as Revolved Side Angle Pose and Twisted Chair Pose can be performed but only with modifications and not otherwise.
ii) Avoid Jumps During Pregnancy Yoga
Any yoga pose or exercise during pregnancy that involves jumping should not be on your yoga list at all. By jumping you are at risk of falling and displacing the fertilized egg from the uterus.
iii) Inversions Are a Big ‘NO’
If you are a mommy-to-be who is new to yoga then, inversions are big risks to practice especially during pregnancy. However, experienced and trained yogis who are comfortable with inversions such as the Shoulder Stand Pose can continue to practice either using a wall as support or without it.
iv) Do not Do – Back- Bending Poses
Back-bending poses should be completely avoided in general as it extends your entire frontal part of the body. This adds pressure to your abdominal muscles that can put a risk to the baby.
Yoga poses such as Camel Pose and Full Wheel Pose are uncomfortable and overstretch your abdominal muscles. Instead, try Upward Dog Pose without putting too much pressure on your back and tummy.
You can also modify the Camel Pose using blocks to avoid the risk of diastasis recti (a condition in which the large abdominal muscles separate).
v) Lying on the Belly
Lying on the belly poses for pregnant women – for obvious reason is not healthy and advisable at all. You can still practice yoga poses such as Cobra Pose, Bow Pose in your first trimester when the fetus is still very small. But, later in pregnancy, it causes discomfort and the risk of putting pressure of your entire body weight on the baby.
vi) Lying Flat on the Back
Practising Corpse Pose in the first trimester of pregnancy is absolutely safe. However, after entering the second trimester, it is advised not to lie flat on your back for a long period of time. The reason being vena cava, a large vein that passes through the right side of your spine is pressed due to the expanding belly. This restricts the flow of blood to the heart and oxygen to you and your baby.
Hence, when practising Corpse Pose, lie on your side and you can take the support of blankets and bolsters to be more comfortable.
vii) Say NO to – Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga
Bikram Yoga is practised in soaring temperatures, raising your body temperature that can cause hyperthermia. This kind of yoga during pregnancy is definitely not recommended. Studies have shown that being under excessive heat during pregnancy can increase the risk of neural tube defects, and malformations. Avoid hot temperatures whether indoor or outdoor during pregnancy.
Always remember, Yoga Poses during pregnancy are not for weight loss. When you are pregnant focus on fitness more than weight loss. It is imperative to gain weight in a healthy manner in order to provide adequate nutrients required for you and your baby’s development.
It’s always better to consult your doctor if you can practise Yoga – as each pregnancy is different from others. However, be assured – Yoga is safe for both pregnant or post-pregnancy period.
The Yoga Pregnancy Poses mentioned above will help you shed a sedentary lifestyle and make you active throughout the nine months of pregnancy. Moreover, Yoga during pregnancy highly reduces the chances of caesarian delivery. If there are some other Yoga Poses (asanas) or tips you are following during pregnancy share them in the comments section below.
Have fun, mamas!!
A step-by-step method to do Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)