Practicing yoga while you are pregnant can help achieve a healthy pregnancy, but it is important to be knowledgeable about your pregnancy and the yoga positions to avoid. This will ensure your practice provides a safe journey to delivery.
Pregnancy is a wonderful and much anticipated time in a woman's life. During gestation, your body changes and this may cause some physical and emotional stress. Yoga has been used for thousands of years as a means of meditating and relieving stress, in addition to conditioning the body. The deep, slow stretches and core strengthening exercises of yoga prepare your body for delivery and enable you to have a fit pregnancy. There are many tension relieving poses to incorporate during your practice to prepare you mentally and physically for labor and delivery. It is always necessary to consult your doctor before starting any type of exercise program. Following practical pregnancy and yoga positions to avoid, is essential for you and your baby's health and safety.
Safety Tips For Pregnancy and Yoga
The benefits of prenatal yoga can be practiced during all three trimesters of your pregnancy. Each trimester has unique physical changes, which influence how you practice yoga.
During the first trimester, your belly may still be small enough to practice as usual, especially if you are an experienced yoga student. One draw back during your first trimester is the nausea and sleepiness you may experience throughout the day. Avoid feeling overtired or nauseous during your yoga positions by carefully scheduling your yoga practice during the times of the day you feel best.
Second and Third Trimester
As you progress past the first trimester, there are more safety precautions to take:
- Avoid jumping into any of the positions or poses to avoid injury or miscarriage
- As your belly grows, be more cautious and pay attention to your body
- Modify or change all poses and positions that cause any discomfort or pain
- If any position hurts, avoid it
- Stay hydrated and eat a small meal before your practice
- You may feel the need to urinate more frequently, set your mat near an exit door in a yoga class
Pregnancy Hormones Effect Flexibility
During pregnancy your body produces more of the hormone relaxin, which loosens up the muscles and ligaments in preparation for childbirth. This hormone is specifically needed to shift the hips and pelvis in position to deliver a baby, however, all muscles and ligaments are affected the same way during this time. Be careful during pregnancy and yoga positions to avoid overstretching.
Pregnancy and Yoga Positions to Avoid
During your pregnancy always avoid any type of head, shoulder, or handstand positions that require you to be completely inverted or upside down. Due to added pregnancy weight, you may not have the strength or balance needed to accomplish these positions. In addition, it can place unnecessary strain on your reproductive system.
Head Below Heart
Be cautious in any yoga pose in which your head is below your heart for extended periods of time, such as downward facing dog or standing forward bend. Come out very slowly in any pose where your head is below your heart as the sudden change in blood pressure could cause you to faint.
During pregnancy, you can twist gently and moderately. What you should avoid are deep twisting positions, compressing or straining your spine and abdomen. Stay away from all yoga positions that stretch your abdominal muscles excessively, such as:
- Back bends
- Camel pose
- Fish pose
- Bow pose
Unsupported Balance Positions
The second and third trimester of pregnancy are characterized by added weight in the front of your belly, which changes your center of gravity. Avoid all yoga balance positions, unless you are holding onto a chair, table or wall.
Lying on Your Belly
Avoid lying on your belly after the first trimester. Examples of face down, belly positions are:
- Bow pose
Lying on Your Back
As your baby gets heavier, avoid lying on your back during pregnancy for long periods of time to prevent Vena Cava Syndrome. Vena Cava occurs when the baby presses on your vena cava artery while you are lying on your back, reducing blood flow and causing you to feel dizzy. Everyone is different and some women do not experience this problem, however it is wise to only lay on your back for short periods of time during your yoga session and periodically shift to your left side to avoid Vena Cava Syndrome.
While you are pregnant do not practice hot yoga. This type of practice can make you feel very nauseous if done while you are pregnant. Hot yoga in which the yoga positions are done in a well-heated room, should be avoided during your entire pregnancy as it may raise your blood pressure, cause dehydration and raise your body's core temperature, all of which may compromise the health of your baby.
Enjoy your prenatal yoga practice, as it will give you the confidence and stamina while delivering your baby. Yoga classes designed for pregnant women are becoming more available; search your area for an educated prenatal yoga instructor or class.