Let me start saying I’m not a big yoga practitioner and I also don’t know much about it, but I’ve practiced it enough to know it’d be a great activity to get me prepared for an easier labor. Yoga helps me connect better with all parts of my body which came in very handy when in labor so I could have more control of the situation.
Why am I writing about yoga then? I recently did some research about practicing yoga while pregnant (other than prenatal yoga) and thought I’d share the outcome with anyone in my same situation and interested in learning more about the topic. Hopefully this blog post will save you some time.
Is it good to practice yoga while pregnant?
It is great! For many reasons, including the ones I already mentioned above. They say if you already had a strong yoga practice before your pregnancy, you’re good to keep doing it- with some modifications- after the first trimester. The first trimester is trickier and you should take it easy or not practice yoga at all, as the risk of miscarriage is highest.
If you haven’t practiced much yoga before your pregnancy, it’s better to stick to prenatal yoga. With my first pregnancy, I only practiced prenatal yoga. I followed these videos that a friend recommended which I loved.
- Prenatal yoga – Episode 1
- Prenatal yoga – Episode 2
- Prenantal yoga – Episode 3
- Prenantal yoga – Episode 4
- Prenantal yoga – Episode 5
With my second pregnancy, apart from trying to stay more agile by exercising more often, I’m also planning on attending some regular yoga classes. Before doing so, I did some research and below are my main takeaways.
3 tips for pregnancy yoga
- Best poses for each trimester. Each trimester has its challenges and particularities so your yoga practice should be adapted to what your body demands in each of these phases. During the first trimester, gentle practice is recommended and also being able to stop when you feel tired. By the second trimester you’ll usally have recovered your energy and will start showing, so it’s a good time to focus on building strength. During the third trimester your body is all about making room for the baby and openess, as your body is preparing for labor.
- How to relieve lower back pain. This is one common pain during pregnancy caused by weight of the growing and stretching belly. Backbending can help you open up your body where you need it if done properly. That usually means you only need to backbend the upper part of your back. Check out this blog post with 6 backbends perfect for pregnancy
- Breath smoothly and continuously. Fast breading (e.g. bhastrika or kapalabhati) or breath retention exercises (e.g. kumbhaka) aren’t recommended as they can lead to anxiety, fainting or sore chest muscles. Instead, pregnant women practicing yoga should breath smoothly and continuously (e.g. nadi shodhanam or bhramari).
5 things to avoid
- Laying on your belly. To avoid compressing the baby (also, it doesn’t sound very comfortable once you have a belly, does it?).
- Overstretching. This can lead to pelvic and joint instability and/or pulled ligaments. Focus should be on strength and stability rather than on flexibility.
- Deep twists. Although they can be great pain relievers for your back, the problem with deep twists is they require compression of the abdominal area which may be dangerous. Focus should be on opening up through the chest as you twist, instead of twisting from the belly.
- Inversions. My main takeaway when reading about inversions if you were familiar and comfortable with them before your pregnancy, you can keep practicing inversions. If not, this may not be the best moment to get started with them, just avoid unnecessary risks (of falling, for example).
- Lying on your back. Lying on your back is not necessary a bad thing, but as your baby (and your belly!) continue to grow, lying flat on your back for an extended period of time can compress the inferior vena cava. However, when this happens, it’ll not be very comfortable so you may want to consider other relaxation poses like side lying.