Prenatal Yoga: Make Your Practice Work for You

Do you feel drawn to include yoga as part of your self-care during your pregnancy? Makes sense. Breathing and taking time to connect with your body and baby has been shown to have positive effects.

Yoga as a form of moderate intensity exercise can:

  • lower blood pressure
  • lower heart rate
  • decrease anxiety
  • increase resiliency in stressful situations

As you breathe and connect with your pelvic floor, you have the opportunity to improve coordination—finding both the contraction as well as the relaxation phase, which is important for both labor and pelvic health in general.

Prenatal yoga

You might find a lot of postures feel comfortable for you all the way through the third trimester. If so, be sure to modify the posture fit your changing body. Here are some specifics to keep in mind.

No hot yoga

I know, I know. Devotees of a hot yoga practice love the feeling of sweating it out on the mat. Unfortunately, your baby will not like that and serious complications could occur. Be safe.

Use props

Balancing postures are a cornerstone of many yoga practices. With the amount of sitting most of us do during the work day, standing on one leg and balancing can be quite challenging.

Warrior 1, 2, and 3

Place your hand on a wall or the back of a chair for Warrior 1 and Warrior 3. For more support during Warrior 2, you can choose to have your back close to the wall in case you lose your balance.

Using the wall for support while doing Warrior 1 pose during prenatal yoga

Use a wall for support during Warrior 1. You can also use a chair for support.

Lean against the wall for support while doing Warrior 2 pose during prenatal yoga

Lean against the wall for support while in Warrior 2 pose.

Using the wall for support while doing Warrior 3 pose during prenatal yoga

Warrior 3 using the wall for support. Like Warrior 1, you can use a chair instead.

Tree pose

Tree is another great standing pose that you might want to modify by holding on to a support. You can also lower your foot to make contact with the inner lower leg instead of the inner upper leg to make the pose more manageable.

Tree pose with foot on lower leg for prenatal yoga

Extended Side Angle

I usually use a block in Extended Side Angle because it really helps me lengthen out of my waist and prevents my torso from twisting down.

If you find an additional block would be useful, place one with the wide side down, then place another block perpendicular to that. If you don’t have blocks, supporting your forearm on your thigh is another option.

Extended side angle pose using a forearm on your thigh can provide support during prenatal yoga

Placing a forearm on your thigh provides support during Extended Side Angle pose.

Using a block during extended side angle pose can provide support during prenatal yoga

Alternatively, you can use a block for support during Extended Side Angle pose. I like the cork blocks from Hugger Mugger.

Inversions

Inversion postures can be so refreshing. When I was in college I didn’t drink any caffeinated tea or coffee (imagine)!

I used to work a summer job at a camp-outfitting business sewing name labels into their tee shirts. I worked for a wonderful woman who introduced me to Thai food and let me sew the day away listening to Joni Mitchell and Tori Amos. When I needed a pick-me-up I would just pop up into a headstand. A fabulous caffeine substitute!

Obviously headstands and handstands are not recommended if:

  • you don’t have prior practice
  • have high blood pressure
  • as your provider advises (maybe not during the third trimester)

If you are cleared to continue your inversion practice, be sure to practice against a wall with your provider’s guidance.

One popular inversion posture is Downward Facing Dog. This posture is easily modifiable and often seen in a prenatal yoga class. It can be practiced with the hands on the wall.

With this option, bend the knees and slowly shift your pelvis from side to side. You’ll feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings (back of the upper legs). Some women also like placing their forearms on a table top, resting their head on their arms, and then shifting the pelvis from side to side.

Use a wall while doing Downward Facing Dog for support during prenatal yoga

Modify Downward Facing Dog using a wall to get the same benefits as the traditional pose.

Twists

Swap your twists that are compressing your belly for twists with wide legs. For example, recline back with your legs wider than hip distance apart and slowly “windshield wiper” your knees from side to side.

Wide leg twist modification for prenatal yoga

Always check in with your medical providers

Unsure if a posture is right for you with your medical history and stage of pregnancy? Ask your OB. They will be able to give you proper guidance.

If you’ve been diagnosed with placenta previa, or any other prenatal concern, ask your provider for specific guidance.

Always stop your practice and contact your physician if you:

  • feel pulling in the lower abdomen
  • experience shortness of breath
  • start bleeding
  • have cramping
  • feel nauseous
  • experience dizziness

Be safe and enjoy your prenatal yoga practice!


Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links,” which means I receive a small commission if you click on a link and make a purchase. I only recommend products I use personally.

2018-04-02T08:00:45+00:00

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