Frequently asked questions about pregnancy yoga

It’s fair to say I know a thing or two about pregnancy yoga. I’ve taught pregnancy yoga classes for over 10 years and have done yoga throughout all of my own pregnancies.

My YouTube channel is mostly focused on teaching pregnancy yoga and I have an online yoga community full of pregnancy yoga practices. I also teach other yoga teachers how to teach prenatal yoga classes in my specialty teacher training.

These are the questions I get asked the most often. If I’ve missed a question you’d like to know the answer to – feel free to ask it in the comments.

pregnancy yoga

How is pregnancy yoga different from other types of yoga?

Pregnancy yoga isn’t just regular yoga that’s been made safe for pregnant women.

Pregnancy yoga is a series of yoga asana specifically chosen to stretch and strengthen the body to support it through the changes of pregnancy. Pregnancy yoga isn’t just the poses on the mat. It also includes other practises like breathwork, mantra and meditation. These help women to cope with common pregnancy conditions and prepare for birth.

When attending a pregnancy yoga class you should expect to move through yoga asana that is accessible for your body, learn breath techniques to prepare for birth and practise meditations designed to help you connect with your baby.

When should you start pregnancy yoga?

If you’ve never practised yoga prior to pregnancy, wait until around 12 weeks to start a physical practice (or when your energy returns after the 1st trimester).

If you don’t want to wait, find a pregnancy yoga teacher to guide you safely and help you to tune into your own body. You can start meditation and other non-physical based pregnancy yoga practises at any time during your pregnancy.

If you’ve done yoga prior to conceiving, you can continue practising yoga from the moment you find out you’re pregnant. Learn how to modify your yoga practise for pregnancy safely here.

How do you practise yoga safely during pregnancy?

It’s unlikely that any yoga practice would hurt your baby in the womb (they are well protected).

Most of the recommendations for pregnancy yoga are there to keep you, the mother, safe from injury.

1. Avoid belly compression and poses that require core strength.

2. Don’t let yourself overheat.

3. Avoid overstretching (as your joints and ligaments are already relaxing from hormones).

For more info about practising pregnancy yoga safely, download my free guide here.

How many weeks pregnant can you do yoga?

If you already have an established yoga practice you don’t have to give it up once you fall pregnant. You can continue practising throughout your entire pregnancy.

Many women find they’re too exhausted for a physical practise during the first trimester though. This is a good time to lean on other yoga practises like meditation and pranayama.

If you would like to get started with a physical yoga practice, this one below is suitable from 4 weeks.

Which yoga is best in pregnancy?

Ideally during pregnancy you’d attend a pregnancy or prenatal yoga class, however these aren’t always available.

If you can’t find a prenatal yoga class in your area any of the following types would be suitable.

1. Gentle yoga or slow flow.

2. Yin or restorative.

3. Hatha yoga

4. Iyengar

Just be sure to let your teacher know that you are expecting, so that they can guide you to make any necessary modifications.

What yoga should you avoid in the first trimester?

During the first trimester your body is growing an entire human from scratch. Your baby will grow from a cluster of cells to an almost fully formed human by 12 weeks.

This is why it’s so important not to push your body during the first trimester.

Avoid yoga classes that make you feel exhausted or challenge your body too much. These types of yoga classes should be avoided during the first trimester.

1. Hot yoga or Bikram yoga (hot yoga should be avoided during your entire pregnancy).

2. Powerflow or core power yoga

3. Any class that is advertised as a “workout”. Yoga should be a “work in”, especially during pregnancy.

Can you do downward dog when pregnant?

The journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology published a study in 2015 that found downward-facing dog is safe to practise during pregnancy for women who have no health complications.

Safe and comfortable are two very different things though. You might avoid down dog if you:

– have high or low blood pressure

– have painful carpal tunnel

– suffer from heartburn or reflux.

Learn more about downward-facing dog during pregnancy here.

Why no twisting during pregnancy?

Twisting (or rotating the torso) is safe to do during pregnancy, just go gently.

Pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on your abdominal muscles and also destabilises your pelvis. Where comfortable though, you can gently twist from the shoulders as long as you avoid straining or compressing the belly. Allow your hips to also follow the direction of the twist to avoid overstretching into the pelvis.

Safe twists for pregnancy include an easy seated twist and supported supine twist.

Can I do planks during pregnancy?

Planks are safe during pregnancy, however this doesn’t mean they’ll be right for every pregnant woman.

Planks require a significant amount of core strength and also put pressure on the abdominal wall (which is already under pressure from your growing baby). As your pregnancy progresses you might find planks are no longer comfortable. If you are holding your breath to practise them, or your belly is doming – it’s time to modify your practice.

Reduce the pressure of planks in pregnancy by bringing the knees to the floor or bringing the knees further underneath the hips. Or skip them altogether! You can always come back to them once baby arrives.

Where to now?

Download my free pregnancy yoga guide to learn more about practising pregnancy yoga safely and practise with me for free on my YouTube channel.

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