How to start practicing yoga when you’re pregnant

practice yoga when you're pregnant

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about practicing yoga when you’re pregnant and I thought that it’s probably time to start doing more than just emailing back one response at a time and instead start answering FAQs via video so you can easily find the answers you’re looking for.


Watch the video below or read on for the transcript.



So recently, I got a question from a beautiful lady called Courtney and she has asked…


“I’ve never practiced yoga before, I’m 6 weeks pregnant and I don’t know where to start. Can you help me with that?”


So, great question. Pregnancy is often a time where we first come to yoga. Lots of doctors recommend yoga because it’s considered a gentle practice and one that can work with your body throughout all of the stages of pregnancy. And it is a really good type of exercise to practice when you’re pregnant but there are some things that you should know before you just jump straight in.

So, before we get into it, I just wanted to share with you why practice yoga while pregnant.

It makes your changing bod feel good!

When your body is growing and expanding things start to ache and some things don’t feel like they’re in the same place anymore. Yoga is a great way to help balance all of those changes out.


It reduces recovery time.

After birth, you’re going to have a period of time where everything is still kind of getting back to its original place and strength. A yoga practice during pregnancy and then early afterwards is going to help you get back to your old self sooner rather than later.  During pregnancy yoga you’ll particularly focus on the pelvic floor which is obviously an area that is under a lot of strain during pregnancy and one that often needs our attention during recovery.


It prepares you for birth.

Let’s not pretend that the main event is not on all of our minds. Even if we’ve done it before, it can still be something that might be stressing you out and yoga can give you all the tools that you need to prepare for birth.


How to start practicing yoga when you’re pregnant.

If you have been practicing yoga before, you can probably keep going with your practice and just make it really gentle for that first trimester. Remember, the body is doing lots of work when we’re pregnant, it’s creating a human from basically nothing. So, you don’t want to stress it out during that first trimester at all.


If you’ve never practiced yoga before, the first trimester is probably not the time to start. You’re welcome to practice meditation but I wouldn’t go and try to do a whole yoga class. Wait until you get that beautiful energy rush of trimester two and start your physical yoga practice then.


So, if you are in first trimester wait until you’re about 12 weeks to start. At this point I suggest you find a pregnancy specific class because you’ll also get to meet a lot of mums, usually at the same stage as you (which is like a little pre-formed Mother’s group).  If you can’t make it to a studio, I’ve got lots of classes in my online yoga circle that are specific for pregnancy.


General Dos and Don’ts of Pregnancy Yoga

Avoid compressing the belly.

If you’re pregnant, you’re probably already feeling like you don’t like anything on your belly. So during yoga you don’t want to be lying on the belly at any stage. It sounds obvious, but I have had some women in classes not listening to what is comfortable and lying on their belly anyway. You should also avoid closed twists as this compresses the belly as well. You can always twist the opposite way so you’re nice and open and nothing is pressing on that belly.


Avoid strong inversions

Generally, we’re not practicing inversions while we’re pregnant (which is where our feet are above our head.) We don’t want to unnecessarily stress the body or risk falling. There will of course be some people who continue to do inversions throughout their pregnancy but I wouldn’t be even thinking about inversions at this stage. There’s plenty of time for that once bub is born.


Be aware of overstretching. 

During pregnancy your body is releasing Relaxin which is a hormone that lets everything open up to make space for the baby. Unfortunately, Relaxin opens everything and doesn’t just open the areas that we need it to, so there is risk of overstretching. Just be aware to not push to your maximum when stretching to avoid injury.


Avoid crunches and strong core work.

We also need to be aware that the muscles of the belly are opening to accommodate the baby. We need to avoid putting any extra strain on these muscles which will increase the separation and make recovery longer.  So where possible avoid any movements that involves the ‘crunching’ action ( you’re lying on your back and crunching forward.) That sort of action makes the separation worse. Planks however are fine because you’re on hands and knees and supporting the muscles all around the core and back to stay strong.


Lying on your back may be uncomfortable

Lying on your back can be an issue but not for everyone. There is a main vein that runs down the back of the body and if you’re putting too much pressure on that you may feel a little bit lightheaded. So when you’re lying on your back just be aware that if you start feeling a little bit dizzy or uncomfortable, it’s time to move.


Don’t overheat

When you’re pregnant your body is like a little incubator and you can overheat. Make sure you rest when you need and drink water as needed.


Be aware of blood pressure changes

By the end of pregnancy there is something like 50% more blood in your body than previously. I personally experienced low blood pressure during my pregnancies which meant when I was going from low to high (the floor to standing) I often felt dizzy and lightheaded. If you’ve got high or low blood pressure  make sure you’re working with your doctor and following their recommendations.


So, that’s it. I hope that it answers your question on how to start a yoga practice and where to start when you’re pregnant.

If you want to get straight into a yoga flow, check out the beginners pregnancy below. Otherwise, in my online yoga circle there are lots of classes for pregnancy that you’re welcome to start right away.


If you have any questions that you would like to ask send me an e-mail, I’d love to hear from you.


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