6 Common Questions About Yoga and Pregnancy
1. Is all yoga the same and safe for pregnancy?
No, not all yoga practices are the same and safe for pregnancy. There are different forms of yoga, and while only your medical professional can help you determine what is best for you in your individual situation, not all forms are considered safe for pregnant women.
Prenatal yoga is a form of yoga that is most recommended because it takes into consideration the needs of your changing body and growing baby and is also guided toward all that benefits you during this season of life.
2. What can prenatal yoga do for me?
Prenatal yoga is widely known for assisting women in various discomforts pregnancy can bring and overall bringing relief to parts of the body that become stressed due to pregnancy. Through meditation, prenatal yoga can help calm the mind as you navigate through the unique changes and concerns of this time. Focusing on breathwork helps to nourish your body as baby continues to grow into the space you use to breathe.
Prenatal yoga also assists the body in its preparation for childbirth by opening the hips and pelvis and strengthening the back, arms, legs and shoulders. Many studies have shown that prenatal yoga can help decrease your risk for prenatal and postpartum depression. From your first trimester to postpartum, there are countless benefits waiting for you in practicing prenatal yoga.
3. Do I need to find a yoga studio to practice prenatal yoga?
This may come down to personal preference and lifestyle. Getting connected in a yoga studio can provide community during your pregnancy as you share consistent class times and class experiences with others. It can also provide the guidance and in-person instruction of a teacher who can direct you individually if needed. But overall, you do not need a yoga studio to practice prenatal yoga.
Prenatal yoga can be practiced at home using pre-recorded videos, by attending virtual classes, or with the help of a book or online tutorial. Anywhere you have space to fit your mat is a great place to start moving and practicing.
4. Do I need additional props to practice prenatal yoga?
While most postures can be practiced without additional props, as you continue through the stages of your pregnancy you may find that having a few aids makes your practice more enjoyable. Most importantly you will need a mat that you can safely practice on, something non-slip that you feel secure on while moving through different postures.
If you are interested in investing in additional help, other recommended props are yoga blocks, a yoga blanket (typically made of wool, but any thick blanket you can fold for support will do), yoga bolsters, and a chair for added assistance with stability as needed.
5. Are there yoga postures that are considered unsafe during pregnancy?
In short, yes. Most importantly, observe your breath while you practice; it is a great indicator of whether or not you are using too much force and creating too much tension for your body. Your breath should remain steady, gentle and rhythmic. Other general postures to avoid are postures that place any pressure on your abdomen and pelvis, twisting postures, deep backbends, and after your first trimester, any posture lying flat on your back.
Twists can decrease the circulation in your body. Deep backbends can put you at risk for diastasis recti (a condition that happens when your abdomen muscles begin to pull apart). In the second trimester and beyond, lying flat on your back puts too much pressure on your uterus and can interfere with the blood flow of your vena cava (the main vein that carries blood back and forth from your heart). It is best to avoid these all together during your pregnancy.
6. Can I try prenatal yoga if I’ve never practiced yoga before?
Yes! While it is most recommended that you begin your yoga practice before getting pregnant, prenatal yoga is a safe and beneficial exercise that you can try at any point in your pregnancy. If you are brand new to yoga, it is important to listen to your body and never push into a point of pain while you practice.
Prenatal yoga is about strengthening your body, calming your mind, and connecting with your baby. If you keep those things at the forefront of your mind, you may find yourself coming back to your mat more and more.
For more information on this, see our article “Why Yoga”.