Can I practice pregnancy yoga in the first trimester?

I often get asked whether it’s safe to practice pregnancy yoga in the first trimester.

There are some opinions around practicing yoga at this time and many yoga studios (even those that specialise in pregnancy yoga) will ask that you wait until the second trimester to start. I understand why they do this but I don’t necessarily agree with them.

yoga in the first trimester

Let’s start with the facts.

The first trimester isn’t the time to challenge or stress the body in any way.

During the first trimester any movement should be gentle and loving for your body. If you’ve been a marathon runner prior to falling pregnant, then perhaps taking a yoga class instead of going for your regular 10km run IS being gentle and loving.

However, if you’ve doing very little exercise prior to falling pregnant, a yoga class may be challenging for you. Perhaps a slow walk around the block might be a kinder choice on your body instead?

But I guess what you’re really asking when you ask about practicing yoga during the first trimester is…

Will yoga cause a miscarriage in the first trimester?

It is HIGHLY unlikely that yoga would cause a miscarriage, unless you were doing something crazy and landed on your belly. But even in that instance, babies (especially tiny first trimester sized babies) are well insulated and protected in the womb so it is unlikely to cause a problem.

That being said, YOU are likely to suffer if you’re pushing your body too hard in pregnancy, especially during that first trimester. Your body is already doing an incredible amount making a baby from scratch, asking your body to do too much on top of that can lead to burn out, make 1st trimester fatigue even worse and make morning sickness intolerable.

The ‘right’ exercise in the first trimester is different for every woman and every pregnancy

Every woman and every pregnancy is unique. Whether you should practice yoga or not will depend on what you were physically used to doing prior to pregnancy and whether yoga balances out your life or puts further stress on your body.

A good way to test this is simply to listen to your body.

Do you feel energised and relaxed afterwards? Great keep going.

Do you feel exhausted or flighty and anxious? It’s time to switch out some physical yoga for something a bit more relaxing instead.

Yoga is not just physical practice.

While we always tend to think of moving our bodies on the mat when we think of yoga, that’s just not the whole picture when it comes to yoga. Yoga is also meditation, pranayama (or breath work) and following the yoga philosophies about living (healthy clean food, discipline, etc).

These other elements of yoga can definitely be a great benefit during the first trimester. I would probably even argue these other aspects of yoga are even MORE important than the physical practice during pregnancy. They certainly were in my experience anyway. The breath work in particular was THE THING that got me through my labours and births.

What type of yoga practices are safe in the first trimester?

Sitali Pranayama or cooling breath is a great practice during the first trimester. It helps to cool the body and can be helpful in easing nausea.

Supta Baddha Konasana (reclined butterfly) and Savasana (corpse pose) are great gentle poses to stay in for 5 – 10 minutes to help restore some energy when you’re feeling fatigued.

Any other gentle mindful movement with the breath. Don’t get me wrong – you don’t need to be afraid of moving during the first trimester. Not at all.

Movement is great for helping to create energy (I know it sounds crazy but it’s true), for warding off some of that morning sickness, and most importantly to help improve your mental state. (I’m always so much happier after I move.)

If you’re looking for a super gentle first trimester yoga class to practice try this one below. You might also like to download my free yoga guide for pregnancy and birth to get you started.

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