Second trimester yoga: what yoga is safe during the second trimester?

The second trimester is when most of my students start pregnancy yoga classes. Generally they’re starting to feel better (morning sickness tends to ease by the second trimester), they have more energy and they’re feeling less anxious about the pregnancy (statistically most miscarriages happen in the first trimester). So let’s talk about second trimester yoga; what’s safe, what’s not and what your practise should look like.

second trimester yoga

Firstly, as with all yoga, but especially for pregnancy yoga; what you can and can’t do during the second trimester is very personal to you and a range of individual factors.

What will impact your second trimester yoga practise?

Have you practised yoga before?

If you’ve been practising yoga for many years prior to falling pregnant and/or if you’ve practised yoga during your first trimester, your second trimester yoga practise will look very different to someone who has never practised yoga before.

If you’re brand new to pregnancy yoga move mindfully and gently at first, while you learn your limits to avoid injury.

Do you have any pregnancy conditions?

Women who experience certain pregnancy conditions (Eg. pelvic instability, incompetent cervix, high blood pressure, etc) will have to modify their second trimester yoga practise to make sure they are comfortable and safe. If you have any of these conditions and you are unsure of what you can do, it is best to get personalised advice from a yoga teacher who is trained in pregnancy yoga.

How are you feeling?

More generally, your yoga practise will (and should) change day to day depending on how you’re feeling. Yoga is all about listening to your body. Don’t try to ‘push through’ when you’re not feeling up to it. Instead, choose practises that will help to restore your energy, like pranayama and meditation.

What yoga practises should you do in the second trimester?

Poses to encourage stability and alignment

Poses to encourage stability in the pelvis and create good posture are important in the second trimester to avoid muscle aches and strains. Examples of these include; tadasana, chair pose, etc.

second trimester yoga
Tadasana / Mountain pose
second trimester yoga
Chair Pose

Poses to stretch and release

These poses help to relieve general aches and reduce tightness in the body that is caused by carrying additional weight. It’s important to maintain this balance of flexibility during pregnancy to avoid injury and to still be able to move freely and comfortably. Don’t believe you should be incredibly uncomfortable during pregnancy! You can do something to relieve this. Examples of these types of poses include; seated wide leg forward fold, pigeon pose, etc.

second trimester yoga
Seated wide leg forward fold
second trimester yoga
Pigeon post with bolster support

Poses to prepare for labour and birth

The second trimester is a great time to start becoming familiar with active birth positions. Second trimester yoga should also help to create mobility and alignment in the pelvis which is important for birth. Examples of these types of poses include; tabletop, lunges, etc.

second trimester yoga
Kneeling lunge
second trimester yoga
Table top / hands and knees

Restorative and supported poses

Even though energy is typically higher during the second trimester, poses that help to restore energy and balance out the stronger poses are still important. Restorative asana are also a great opportunity to connect with your baby, something that busy Mums may not be able to do in their daily life. Examples of restorative poses for the second trimester include; supported Childs pose, supported reclined butterfly, etc

second trimester yoga
Supported reclined butterfly / supta badha konasana
second trimester yoga
Supported Child’s pose / supported balasana

Breathwork, meditation, visualisation, affirmation and mantra

Don’t forget the value of other non-physical yoga practises during the second trimester as well. These can help to prepare you for birth, relieve anxiety and connect with your baby. In my second trimester yoga classes we often practise golden thread breath, yoga nidra and ‘om namo guru dev namo’ but the options here are endless.

What not to do in the second trimester

Strong twists

During pregnancy we avoid compressing the belly. Open twists that allow space for the belly are still safe to practice. Examples of poses to avoid include half lord of the fish, revolved chair, etc.

Prone poses

We want to avoid lying on the belly during pregnancy as it puts too much pressure on the growing uterus. Avoid poses like cobra and sphinx.

Strong inversions

Strong inversions like handstand or headstand are thought to put too much pressure on the heart during pregnancy. The abdominal muscles do not have the strength to maintain stability during pregnancy and the risk of injury is greater.

Lying on the back for too long

For some women, lying flat on their back compresses the main vein that runs down the back side of the body. This can cause dizziness and discomfort, and in worse case scenarios impact blood flow to the baby. Avoid savasana and other poses that require lying on the back, or modify to prop up the right side.

Holding one leg standing poses for too long

Excess blood pressure during pregnancy can put strain on the veins. Avoid making this worse by not holding poses on any one side for too long. Examples include dancer’s pose and tree pose.

Backbends

By the second trimester it is best to avoid strong backbends. The back is already increasingly arched from the weight of the belly pulling forward and the core no longer has the strength to support these poses safely. Avoid strong backbends like camel and wheel. More gentle backbends like ‘up cat’ may also be too much for some women in the second trimester.

So now you know what you can and can’t do in the second trimester, where do you start with a yoga practise. Ideally you’d find a local class with a teacher you love. But if that’s not an option I have a second trimester yoga series (plus all of my other pregnancy and postpartum yoga classes) in my Online Yoga Circle. You can access all of these classes and join the community here. Or try one of the classes from this second trimester series below.

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