How to Do Yoga While Pregnant (A Trimester Guide)

Tips for doing yoga while pregnant

Doing yoga while pregnant can be a great way to stay healthy and in shape over the next 9 months! Here’s a helpful guide to doing it safely…

Many devoted yogis end up giving up their yoga practice while pregnant due to health or safety concerns. But for many women, it is perfectly safe and healthy to do yoga while pregnant. In fact, yoga can be a great way to stay in shape as your baby grows, and it can be gentler and easier on your changing body than many other forms of exercise.

Pregnancy yoga can also help prepare your body for the birth experience, and in some cases, may even help position your baby for an easier delivery.

Of course, be sure to consult your doctor before doing yoga if you’re pregnant, but if you get the “okay,” go ahead and enjoy your yoga practice throughout your pregnancy! Just be sure to follow the helpful guidelines and tips in this article to stay safe.

Here is a trimester-by-trimester guide to doing yoga while pregnant:

First-trimester yoga—be mindful of relaxin.

During the first trimester, many people feel exhausted…and about half of pregnant people experience morning sickness or nausea. For those who are too tired and nauseous to practice vinyasa, a restorative practice is a great option. Those who find their energy hasn’t much changed might mindfully make adjustments to a regular practice.

The hormone relaxin, which continues to rise from conception throughout the first trimester, softens the joints, ligaments, and tendons of the body. In addition to the spike in relaxin, the pregnant body also experiences an increase in estrogen, which softens connective tissue, or the fascia. Yogis should remain mindful of overstretching by keeping the body supported rather than exploiting the flexibility… Some prone (belly-down) poses likely still feel fine (low cobra, locust), but as the uterus begins to grow and lift from behind the pubic bone, it’s best to avoid poses that press directly onto the lower abdomen, like bow pose.

Second-trimester yoga—avoid Diastasis recti.

In the second trimester, many pregnant people experience increased energy, and most morning sickness has dissipated… This is also when most pregnant bodies begin to see a noticeably rounder belly—some refer to this as having “popped.” Estrogen has already softened the tissue between rectus abdominis (the six-pack muscles) to make space for the growing uterus. With the increased weight on the abdominals, second trimester is a good time to switch to half-plank instead of full plank. Poses where the abdominals must be active in addition to weight-bearing can increase diastasis (the separation between the abdominals).

Other considerations for the abdominals in second trimester are closed twists and deep backbends…

Third-trimester yoga—prepare baby for birth.

Third trimester is a time to begin to consider the position of the baby. For those who are hoping for a vaginal birth, there are poses that can help encourage optimal fetal positioning and poses that actually discourage it. Babies are subject to gravity, so that 10-minute headstand is not recommended. Restorative poses lying back—even if the body is elevated—for too long can encourage baby into a posterior position. Practicing poses on all fours can encourage the baby’s spine away from the birth giver’s spine, and many all-fours poses are utilized in labor…

Standing poses are also encouraged in the third trimester. Warriors, chair, and goddess pose can help build strength in the legs and create a feeling of empowerment that carries through to labor.

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