Yoga offers huge benefits for pregnancy – from calming and restoring you in the early days, maintaining mobility and dealing with common symptoms in the middle period, to preparing you mentally and physically for the birth.
Prenatal yoga can do all this, it’s powerful stuff! But it’s important to understand where pregnancy yoga differs from all the other general styles yoga and how to adapt your practice.
Yoga during pregnancy is not a time to train for improvement or aesthetics; it’s about learning to move with your rapidly changing body, new centre of gravity and creating a combination of softness and strength. Regular yoga is about raising the energy upwards, whereas pregnancy yoga is all about being more grounded and centred.
If you have a regular pre-pregnancy yoga practice, read the following tips to safely adjust your approach for the benefit of you and baby.
Things to incorporate into your pregnancy yoga practice
- Lie on the left in savasana (relaxation) and roll to the left. Favour the left side also when you sleep (this is to avoid pressing on the large vena cava vein and also helps optimal position of the baby)
- Shorten the length of your stride in familiar standing poses such as warriors or triangle.
- Make sure you include specific pelvic floor exercises to aid delivery and recovery
- Support yourself with a blanket and a couple of cushions during seated and floor poses and relaxation
- Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth (rather than in and out of the nose as in regular yoga). You’ll find this is a wonderfully calming and centering breath and the feeling of release on the out breath can also be a boon during labour!
- Step in and out of poses (rather than jumping as in Astanga / Vinyasa styles)
- Move legs regularly between standing poses and avoid holding poses for too long
- Take it slowly, easing between poses and have a bottle of water to hand
Things to avoid
- Lying on your front and compressing your baby bump
- Deep twists across your body or any abdominal work (gentle open twists are OK)
- Holding your breath
- Lying flat on your back post 25 weeks (or earlier if you feel short of breath or uncomfortable)
- Strong backbends such as camel, upward bow.
It’s also recommended to avoid any physical (asana) practice in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Whilst this may seem tough or counter-intuitive for life-long-yoginis it’s all about giving your body time and space to establish the pregnancy and placenta. Focus instead on gentle breathing and look forward to rediscovering your Trimester Two yoga practice with your bump.
Try warrior 3 to maintain strength in your legs and practice your balance, and you can still enjoy the power of warrior 2 from trimester 2 onwards – seen here in Worcester class.
Kate of Redkiteyoga has been teaching vinyasa, a flowing, upbeat style of yoga, since 2009. As part of her own journey to become a mother, she trained in Pre and Post Natal Yoga and Yoga for Birth. For details see www.redkiteyoga.co.uk or tweet @redkiteyoga