When should you start pregnancy yoga?

start pregnancy yoga

It’s very common for women to fall pregnant and immediately ask the question; when should I start pregnancy yoga?

Many obstetricians and midwives recommend pregnant women start yoga. I love this, because obviously yoga is amazing during pregnancy, but I’m not sure they’re always recommending it for the right reasons. 

Some people seem to have the opinion that yoga is always a ‘soft’ or ‘gentle’ form of exercise and therefore great for pregnancy. 

While yoga can certainly be gentle and soft, this is definitely not always the case. Some styles of yoga are strong and sweaty, hot and challenging, intense and powerful.  Needless to say these types of yoga aren’t usually what doctors have in mind when they recommend yoga. 

So with this in mind, my answer to when you should start pregnancy yoga will depend on whether you’re going to a pregnancy specific class or practicing in a general yoga class. 

When you should start pregnancy yoga if you’ve never practiced yoga before

If you’ve never done yoga before it’s recommended that you don’t start any new physical practice in the first trimester.  It’s also pretty normal to not feel like doing anything in the first trimester anyway.  Nausea and exhaustion are not great motivation to get yourself to a yoga class

However there’s more to yoga than just the physical practice and there are other practices that I do recommend you doing in the first trimester. Meditation and pranayama (breath work) are great in the first trimester and you can do them regardless of whether you’ve done them prior to pregnancy or not.  

I’d recommend trying some of this gentle breath work and meditation at home. Even just ten minutes would be enough to feel the benefits. Try this meditation to connect and visualise your bub over on my Youtube Channel.

If you’re wanting to going to a studio class I would wait until after the first trimester. Your body is busy enough building an entire human from scratch to worry about adding anything extra. 

Already a yogi? How to change your yoga practice for pregnancy.

If you have already been practicing yoga before you fell pregnant and you feel up to it, you can of course continue your regular practice. Just try to really listen to your body and rest when you need. 

We also try to avoid belly compression during pregnancy, so even though it may still be comfortable in the first trimester, I personally think it’s best to modify your practice to avoid anything that presses on your belly.

When is the best time to start pregnancy yoga?

For most women the second trimester is the best time to start pregnancy yoga. The second trimester starts around the 12 to 14 week mark and usually brings more energy, nausea fades and the fog of the first trimester starts to lift. 

The second trimester is often when you start to see changes in your body that yoga can help.  As your belly grows it puts strain on your back and legs, and yoga helps to ease some of these aches and pains. Pregnancy yoga also focuses on alignment to help you hold your body in a way that stops your back aching so much by the end of the day.

The second trimester is also a great time to start yoga because it gives you plenty of time to practice in preparation for birth. Starting before the 20 week mark gives you plenty of time to learn how to use your breath during birth to relax your body and allow birth to go more smoothly.  It also gives you plenty of time to create a meditation habit, which helps you know how to relax on command or when things get stressful (which is honestly the B most useful skill to know how to do during birth). 

Okay so I feel like all of that was a really long winded way of saying…

If you’ve practice yoga before – keep practicing. Slow down and just avoid pressing onto your belly.

If you’ve never practiced yoga before – don’t start a physical yoga practice in the first trimester. Just practice your breathing and meditation until the second trimester begins or when your energy starts to return.

The short answer – the second trimester is the perfect time to start pregnancy yoga. 

Ready to start a pregnancy yoga class? Try this one below. Or download my free yoga guide for pregnancy and birth here.

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