Yoga’s origins began thousands of years ago in the Himalayas when Adiyogi poured his profound knowledge and understanding into the “seven sages.”
This yogic science quickly spread to different parts of the world, like Asia, Northern Africa, the Middle East, and South America. But it was in India that this fantastic system reached its full potential and expression.
Almost anyone can benefit from yoga, including pregnant women.
Keeping up with a consistent exercise routine during pregnancy can help you stay healthy and happy.
Exercise like yoga while pregnant can not only improve your posture but also decrease common discomforts such as fatigue and backaches.
If you do keep up with yoga during pregnancy, there are 14 helpful tips that will ensure you’re exercising and practicing safely.
Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of yoga during pregnancy and the tips that’ll keep you safe while doing it.
1. Drink Water
Some instructors and certain styles of yoga encourage practicing yogis not to drink water during specific periods of the class.
Not only can it be a distraction, but it’s also a way to “put out the fire” rather than allowing your body to build up internal heat.
However, hydration is one of the essential demands of pregnancy. So when you do yoga while pregnant, make sure you hydrate throughout the class. Any professional instructor will be understanding and encouraging of a pregnant woman drinking water as she deems fit.
2. Hydrate Before
A lot of people think that it’s best to rehydrate after class or to chug coconut water during an intense moment of heat during class.
But it’s more critical for you to hydrate before class so that your body and growing baby are well-prepared for class.
Get your electrolytes in before too by drinking coconut water, eating cucumber, or using a pregnancy-safe electrolyte supplement in your water.
3. Use Props for Support
The bigger you get, the harder it becomes to move around and stay comfortable. Plus, your center of gravity is forever changing during pregnancy.
A change in your center of gravity inevitably affects your balance too.
If you can, put your mat near a wall or mirror so that you have that extra support if you need it. Bring extra towels. You can fold or roll them up and use them for support during certain postures.
You might feel wobbly even in poses that have never caused you to lose your balance. Do things like keeping your foot on your shin instead of near your groin. Take it easy and listen to your body.
4. Be Mindful with Every Move
During pregnancy, your body readjusts and expands every day to make room for the new baby. It’s much easier to overdo a stretch or pull a muscle while pregnant, so take it easy.
Don’t expect to do every posture and stretch in the same manner as before you were pregnant.
Focus on building strength and stability, and don’t be distraught if your flexibility isn’t what it was.
Stay in tune with your body and your breathing with each move, and don’t push yourself too hard, if at all.
5. Focus on Your Breathing
There are many reasons why yoga breath is so essential for your practice.
During each and every practice, and every move, focus on your breathing. It calms the mind and the central nervous system, and it’s also the perfect way to practice for when you give birth!
Don’t hold your breath or explore any intense breathing exercises. All you need to do is focus on smooth, even breathing with a consistent in and out flow.
Try to match the length of your inhales with your exhales.
6. Set up near Some Air Flow
Every time you go to a yoga class while pregnant, especially if it’s hot yoga, make sure you get there early to grab one of the most coveted spots — the ones with the best airflow.
Some teachers will open up the door from time to time or even a window, depending on outside weather.
Don’t try to impress anyone by sticking yourself in the middle of class. Find the coolest spot and set up there so that you can enjoy consistent airflow for you and your growing little one.
7. Don’t Lay on Your Belly
Especially after the first trimester, do not lay on your belly or your chest. It’s a big no-no, and no exceptions should be made.
You might be OK during the first trimester, but after that, don’t do it. It’s pretty uncomfortable to put pressure on the front of your body while pregnant.
Modify any postures that require laying on your front by going on your hands and knees or your side.
And if you have to miss a posture now and then, sit with your legs crossed and focus on your breathing.
8. Watch out for Deep Twists
When you’re doing pregnant yoga, some twists are OK, but not all of them are will be a good fit for your daily yoga practice.
Don’t do any deep twists that compress your belly or close off your midsection or chest. Doing so will decrease circulation.
Twists that are “open” and don’t require crossing the body are typically fine. As long as your belly and heart are open, you should be all right. But stay in tune with what your body tells you and ask your instructor if you’re at all unsure.
9. Be Aware While Stretching
As we mentioned earlier, your body is continually expanding during pregnancy. After all, it has to make room for a growing baby!
It’s easier than it usually is to overdo a stretch or pull a muscle while you’re pregnant. Focus on building stability and strength, and don’t be discouraged by any decrease in flexibility.
You don’t have to touch your toes with every forward bend. Enjoy a gentle stretch with wide legs, and have fun!
10. Widen Your Stance
Deep forward bends can feel restrictive during pregnancy, especially as you get bigger and bigger. Don’t be distraught by feeling uncomfortable.
Look at it instead as an opportunity to explore options that will make more space for your growing baby.
Take a wider stance during those forward folds, including downward dog. The key is to extend your spine without added compression on the baby.
11. Choose Your Side over Your Back Whenever You Can
It’s not always safe to lay flat on your back while pregnant. When you do so, there’s a possibility of compressing the vein that brings blood from your lower body to your heart.
You’ll feel extreme discomfort if it happens, so you shouldn’t worry much about it happening without noticing it.
When you do feel that discomfort, opt to lay on your side whenever you can. Just make sure you lay on your left side, as that vein is located on the right. Or, using extra towels, you could always prop your body up higher.
12. Don’t Focus on Your Abs
Losing abdominal strength is inevitable during pregnancy. While it’s a hard reality to face for some, it’s important to remember that those abs are still working hard to create a safe space for your baby.
Don’t do sit-ups or full planks. Do planks from your knees, and leg lifts from your hands and knees.
Focus on maintaining what strength you have by working your overall core, rather than doing specific ab workouts.
13. Limit Your Inversions
Hopefully, your yoga instructor will say no to inversions while you’re pregnant. If you feel all right doing them and are already well-versed in inversions, then there may be no problem.
If you do decide to continue with them, stick to 30 seconds or less, and use a wall for extra balance and support. If you’ve never tried one before being pregnant, don’t do it while you’re pregnant!
14. Listen to Your Body
Every woman and body is different. And pregnant tend to be particularly in tune to their bodies.
If a move doesn’t feel right, even if there’s a pregnant woman next to you doing it, come out of the pose.
Take a break or do the first step of a move. Don’t hesitate to ask your teacher for a modification.
There are many ways to benefit from a pose without doing the full thing. Either way, it’s crucial that you listen to and trust your body during pregnancy. So if there’s any indication that something isn’t right, don’t push yourself.
Yoga While Pregnant Is Amazing
Can you do yoga when pregnant? The answer is yes!
There are so many benefits of doing yoga while pregnant. Just make sure that you trust your body and don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right.
Always tell your instructor beforehand that you’re pregnant so they can be mindful of modifications and watch over your practice during class (they may even offer a prenatal yoga class). Any great teacher will have experience with pregnant women and know tips and modifications to help make the class enjoyable and beneficial.
Just remember to have fun and fuel your body after class with the right nutrition.
Looking to learn more about practicing yoga while pregnant? Check out the rest of our yoga blog.