How to practise yoga safely during pregnancy to avoid injury and feel better in your body

If you’re brand new to yoga, you might feel unsure about how to practise yoga safely during pregnancy. First of all, I want you to know that you’re not alone. Many of my students feel a little unsure about practising yoga when they first get started. Please don’t let that stop you from getting started at all though as yoga has so many benefits for you during pregnancy.

practise yoga safely during pregnancy

Why you should practise pregnancy yoga.

Pregnancy yoga can help you soften and surrender to the process of becoming a mother. It’s also a beautiful way to grow your community of mothers. Above everything else I recommend joining an in-person class if that option is available to you.  The connections you make during these classes will be so valuable to you when you are in the trenches of mothering.  You will NEED the support of other women going through the same experience to cheer you on and to listen when you need to vent.

To make sure you practise yoga safely during pregnancy join a pregnancy-specific yoga class. If pregnancy yoga is not available in your area, choose a gentle or restorative style yoga class instead. It’s also a good idea to ask your teacher whether they’ve been trained in pregnancy yoga so they can support you to practise yoga safely during pregnancy.

What are the benefits of pregnancy yoga?

Yoga has the power to impact all of us on many levels.

  • It strengthens and stretches our body.
  • It teaches us how to both challenge and care for our bodies.
  • It connects us to our breath and how to use it consciously.
  • It teaches us to quieten the mind so that we can find peace amongst the chatter
  • it helps us to process stress and release it from the body

During pregnancy, yoga has even more benefits for both mother and baby.

Pregnancy yoga:

  • improves blood and oxygen flow
  • increases flexibility and balance
  • can aide digestion and increase energy
  • can help relieve lower back pain and general aches and pains
  • may help relieve nausea and headaches
  • relieve cramping and swelling in legs
  • helps you to connect with and become more comfortable with a changing body.
  • can help to reduce anxiety and fear
  • will empower you with techniques to relax that will be needed during labour and birth
  • fosters a connection with your baby that will aide you during labour
  • helps you trust your body and it’s ability to birth
  • teaches you breathing techniques that will be powerful tools during birth

General guidelines to practise yoga safely during pregnancy

Yoga encourages us listen to our own body.  Honestly, the best way to practise yoga safely during pregnancy is to listen to your own intuition. If you feel uncomfortable during any poses you should stop and rest, or modify the pose to suit your body.

The following are some general guidelines to practise yoga safely during pregnancy.

  • Adjust yoga poses to accommodate your growing belly and changed centre of gravity. Widen your stance to hip width or wider. Avoid closed twists which constrict the belly.
  • Be careful not to overstretch. Hormones are already allowing your ligaments and tendons to relax more than usual.
  • Avoid abdominal work which can increase abdominal separation (this is obviously not the time to build a 6-pack!).
  • Move slowly especially when moving from high to low positions. Changing blood pressures may make you feel dizzy.
  • Practice correct alignment of the pelvis to help with back pain, sciatica and instability of the pelvis.
  • Avoid deep back bends. Weakening core muscles mean that you do that have the muscle support to practice these poses safely.
  • Avoid lying flat on your back after the fourth month. This can affect blood flow for yourself and to your baby.
  • Avoid overheating by wearing cool clothing and resting whenever you need.
  • Use props to support your body.

How your practise might change throughout the three trimesters

If you’re brand new to yoga start by downloading my free guide here to learn more about how to practise yoga safely during pregnancy.


 Conception to Week 12

What might be happening to your body?

  • Sore breasts
  • Possible nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling bloated
  • Exhaustion
  • Heightened emotions
  • Increased oestrogen and progesterone
  • Increased blood flow
  • May feel belly cramps as uterus grows
  • Acne from surging hormones
  • Bleeding gums
  • Possible heartburn
  • Insomnia
  • Need to frequently urinate

How you might be feeling

Of course every woman reacts to pregnancy differently, and you may find your mood can rapidly swing between all or some of the following emotions during the 1st trimester.

  • Excited
  • Scared
  • Exhausted
  • Overwhelmed
  • Fear of miscarriage
  • Worried about how a baby will change relationship and career
  • Concerns over financial situation and security
  • Fear of birth and how you will handle pain


How to practise yoga safely in the 1st trimester

Unless you’ve already been practicing yoga regularly prior to pregnancy, the first trimester is probably not the time to start a new physical yoga practice.  Even if you’ve had a strong practice before falling pregnant, you may find yourself naturally not wanting to get on your mat during this early stage of pregnancy.  This is the time to take it really easy on your body. After all it is already doing the HUGE job of creating a human, it doesn’t need any extra challenge or stress. Learn more about practicing yoga during the first trimester here.

Join me for this 1st trimester pregnancy yoga class below.


Week 13 – Week 28

What might be happening to your body?

  • Sore aching back
  • Bleeding gums
  • Breast enlargement
  • Congestion
  • Nosebleeds
  • Discharge
  • Frequent urination
  • Hair growth
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Swelling
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Skin Changes – sensitivity and stretch marks
  • Varicose veins
  • Weight gain

How you might be feeling

Women tend to see this period as the passing of a storm. During the second trimester pain, nausea and sickness often begin to subside. While all other symptoms might still be present, many women find the second trimester brings a returned energy and a better ability to cope with symptoms.

  • Increased sex drive
  • Many women stop feeling sick
  • Fatigue, nausea and pain subsides
  • Increased energy levels
  • Hormones increase but also balance out more
  • Happy and excited
  • Fear of miscarriage often decreases

How to practise yoga safely during the 2nd trimester

In the 2nd trimester you are most likely over the morning sickness and feeling more energised. Enjoy the chance to do a stronger practice but still be mindful of listening to your body. Poses should be modified to accomodate your growing belly and changing balance. This is also a time to start preparing for birth.  Relaxation poses offer a perfect opportunity for you to connect with your baby.

Practise along with me in this 2nd trimester yoga class below.


 Week 29 – Week 40

What might be happening to your body?

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Breast growth
  • Fatigue
  • Heartburn
  • Lack of bladder control
  • Leaky breasts
  • Clumsiness
  • Braxton Hicks contractions
  • Swelling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Back aches
  • Feeling hot

How you might be feeling

In many ways the third trimester can feel like the first all over again. The pain and the hormones are still raging and so you might become more tired and emotional. Therefore, rest and relaxation becomes vital.

  • Anxiety
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Tired
  • Unable to sleep
  • Nervous
  • Excited
  • Self-conscious

How to practise yoga safely in the 3rd trimester

There is no reason that you can’t practise right up until you give birth (I did!) but you need to be mindful that your growing belly will make some poses feel virtually impossible. Your balance may also be non-existent, so you should use props heavily to support your body.

Avoid lying flat on your back during the 3rd trimester as the weight of your belly can restrict blood flow in main vein that runs down the back side of your body. The 3rd trimester is a good time to focus your yoga practise on relaxation and preparation for birth.

To practise yoga safely during pregnancy, try this 3rd trimester yoga class below.

I hope you’re feeling confident now to practise yoga safely during pregnancy. If you have any other questions, feel free to drop them in the comments below.

What’s your next step to practise yoga safely during pregnancy?

  1. Download my free pregnancy yoga guide.
  2. Choose one of the classes above to practise that suits your current trimester.
  3. Join my Online Yoga Circle for more pregnancy yoga classes, yoga for birth prep and postpartum recovery.

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