Yoga and Pregnancy Safety

Creative Commons License photo credit: minka6

All types of exercise can be beneficial to pregnant women, and specifically yoga can be very beneficial. Of course, if you are starting a new exercise plan you should check with your doctor. But, for most women who want to continue, or try yoga it is completely safe, with a few modifications and precautions:

  • Common sense dictates that if, during your pregnancy, you are uncomfortable on your back you should avoid any pose that includes lying on your back. However, while experts are torn on this subject there is some concern that lying on your back could restrict blood flow to your uterus and cause you to be dizzy, light headed or short of breath.
  • Additionally, you should avoid lying directly on your stomach after your fourth month, or sooner if it becomes uncomfortable.
  • Use a chair or the wall to help keep your balance. While your body is changing your center of gravity may be a bit skewed and falling could harm yourself or your baby.
  • Bend from your hips, not your back. To improve breathing keeping distance between your breastbone and your pubic bone will help.
  • If you bend forward while sitting you can use a towel wrapped around your feet while holding both ends to help avoid squeezing your abdomen.
  • While bending from the hips, lift your chest – this will also help.
  • Keep your pelvis upright when you stretch your chest and or thighs.
  • Take special care with twisting poses. Try to twist more from the shoulders than the abdomen.
  • During pregnancy your muscles are particularly prone to strains because your body is producing hormones to help your uterus relax. These hormones affect all your connective tissues, so make sure that you don’t over do any stretch, taking special care with your abdominal muscles. Make sure you pay attention to your body’s cues. If any thing is uncomfortable you should stop. As your baby grows you will need to make greater accommodations.

For specific ideas on what to do while you are pregnant you may want to try Yoga for Pregnancy: Safe and Gentle Stretches by Sandra Jordan or the video Yoga for your Pregnancy with prenatal expert Kristen Eykel as your guide.

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