Expecting, and can’t stand to give up your favorite yoga practice? You don’t have to! Follow these helpful tips for doing yoga safely while pregnant…
If you love yoga, you may be worried you’ll have to give up your practice during pregnancy. However, as long as your pregnancy is healthy and you don’t have any other conditions that could create a problem, yoga can actually be very helpful throughout your journey into motherhood! In fact, this study from Harvard Medical School found that “yoga during pregnancy is safe, healthy, and can provide incredible benefits to the mother including reduced anxiety, increased mobility, agility, and strength.” (Of course, you should always consult with your doctor just to be sure.)
Whether you are new to yoga or have been practicing for years, you can find value in doing yoga during pregnancy. It’s best to stick with prenatal yoga classes, which are specifically designed for your changing body and growing baby. However, you will always want to listen to your own body. Skip any poses that don’t feel right to you, and feel free to spend a little longer in poses that feel amazing!
If you have quite a bit of yoga experience, however, you may find some of the prenatal yoga class that are offered to be too slow or easy for you. In that case, you may be able to continue your regular practice, and simply modify or swap out certain poses for pregnancy (see swapping suggestions below).
Here are a few tips to keep in mind for doing yoga safely while pregnant:
Listen to your body
Glo teacher Stephanie Snyder reminds us that the most important rule is to listen to your own body. No matter what any teacher says to you, no matter what guidance is offered, if something doesn’t feel right to you—don’t do it. Always be your own guide and honor yourself. This will help you develop the skill of listening to your body that you will need not just in yoga, but in all aspects of pregnancy. Only you know what is right for you. Protect and honor your intuition most of all.
The general rule of thumb is to stay away from intense pranayama practices during pregnancy. There are some schools that encourage viloma breath as a way to feel extra safe in the body, and some Kundalini classes encourage breath of fire, but these are outliers. In general, irregularities in the breath can be jarring to the system, so it’s better to stick to smooth even breath until after your pregnancy.
Keep it cool
Some of you may be longing for your hot yoga class after a long quarantine, but The College of Family Physicians of Canada tells us that intense heat is one of the main things to avoid during pregnancy. Called “hyperthermia,” excessive heat can adversely affect your baby. If you’ve already had an advanced yoga practice, you can continue to challenge yourself physically, but no matter the pose, pace, or intensity—don’t let your body temperature get too high. If and when we get back to “normal” and you are able to take a class and find it getting too hot, just sneak out at least once to let your body temperature cool down.
Open your twists
The Mayo Clinic counsels us to avoid anything that compresses the abdomen. Therefore twists are generally considered unwise during pregnancy as you would want to avoid pressure on the area whenever possible. Consider doing the “open” version of any twist for the duration of your pregnancy, meaning, instead of twisting towards your leg, you twist in the opposite direction. This will allow the spine some mobility without compressing the front of the abdomen. It directs the twist into the upper back and protects the lower back as well.
Easy on the forward bends
During pregnancy, your body emits a hormone called “Relaxin” that makes it more flexible. This is to prepare you for the ultimate act of expanding during birth. The great news is that your body knows to do this on its own, it’s truly a miracle. The downside is that the rest of your body becomes hyper-flexible as well and a desire to stretch comes with it. Your body will be longing to stretch, but this is one of the only moments that is slightly counterintuitive. Medical News Today explains that there is a much higher likelihood of overstretching here. This is a moment to practice moderation and temperance by saying to yourself, “I’m dying to stretch, but I’m only going to do 70% of what I know I can do here.” Moderation may not be satisfying in the moment, but it will ultimately protect you.
To invert or not to invert?
While we can’t find any definitive medical research on inverted poses during pregnancy, we recommend erring on the side of caution. Most teachers caution against them in the first trimester and agree that once your baby has turned and is head down—no more inversions. You don’t want to do anything to disrupt this stage of your pregnancy.
Swap it out
Stephanie suggests a few poses to swap out while practicing yoga during your pregnancy. For Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold), try Janu Sirsansana (Head-to-Knee). For Parsvottananasana (Pyramid), try Prasarita Paschimottanansana (Wide-Legged Forward Fold). For Bridge or Wheel, try Camel. For Plank/ Chaturanga, try Cat/ Cow. And as a universal swap for any pose, Stephanie suggests Malasana/ Garland/ Squat pose against a wall, Puppy Dog with your forehead on the floor, and Supported Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Goddess).
Read more at Glo.com…