Safety Suggestions: Yoga Practices for Pregnancy: Yoga Practices for Pregnancy / Prenatal Students

For All Pregnant Students

  1. If she is new to yoga or has other health conditions, refer her to a Prenatal Yoga Class.
  2. Never hold the breath.
  3. Do not practice pranayama such as “breath of fire.” Instead, focus only on gentle, Breathing Fundamentals.
  4. Do not overheat.
  5. Do not allow heart rate to elevate significantly. (The breath should flow comfortably.)
  6. Take shorter stances in standing poses and stretch to about 80% of end-range.
  7. Practicing poses from hands-and-knees is a common alternative for poses that are typically practiced on belly or back. (A blanket under knees can reduce discomfort.) Another option is to create a reclined set-up for supine poses.
  8. Describe resting poses that can be used as needed throughout class (for example, a modified Balasana—wide-legged child pose).

First Trimester (0-12 weeks)

  1. Suggestions from “All Pregnant Students” plus the following.
  2. A gentle practice is recommended as this is the trimester when the pregnancy is becoming established and is also when miscarriage is most likely to occur.
  3. If the student already has a strong practice, she is advised to alter her practice to avoid inversions, jumps, abdominal strengtheners and twists during the first trimester. Gentle inversions and open twists may be added back later.

Second Trimester (13-27 weeks)

  1. Suggestions from “All Pregnant Students” plus the following.
  2. Avoid lying on belly.
  3. Avoid lying flat on back due to potentially compressing vena cava. (Instead, prop up.)
  4. Avoid deep or closed twists.
  5. Avoid deep backbends.
  6. Avoid ab-training and arm balances, and modify any other poses that compress the belly.
  7. Do not jump in or out of poses.

Third Trimester (28-40 weeks)

All suggestions from 2nd trimester, plus, consider the position of baby and avoid inversions.

Third trimester is a time to begin to consider the position of the baby… Babies are subject to gravity, so that 10-minute headstand is not recommended. Restorative poses lying back—even if the body is elevated—for too long can encourage baby into a posterior position. Practicing poses on all fours can encourage the baby’s spine away from the birth giver’s spine, and many all-fours poses are utilized in labor. – Sage Caprice Abowitt,