Is it safe to practice yoga while pregnant? Yes, yoga is safe for you and your human-to-be! Prenatal yoga can help prepare you and your body for birth. Prenatal yoga helps give pregnant women the skills to stay calm and breathe through powerful contractions.
Whether you are a seasoned yogi or a beginner, realize that yoga is for everybody, even pregnant women. There are challenging poses — like handstand — that we recommend mamas-to-be avoid, but there are many other poses you can tailor to your pregnancy needs.
Poses once considered dangerous for pregnant women are now listed as safe thanks to the 2015 study by Dr. Rachael Polis published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
It is shocking just how many postures are great for pregnant women and have positive side effects — like helping ease the labor process! Consider your pregnancy nama-slayed.
Yoga Poses for Pregnant Women
Some postures, like floor bow pose (dhanurasana), are not possible for a pregnant woman to achieve. Imagine balancing on your baby bump. Yeah, that is like rolling around on a bowling ball. Odd and uncomfortable.
Instead, try out these postures that are safe to do in-studio or at home.
1. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Everyone loves savasana because it signifies the end of hard practice. You lie there and soak up all the positive vibes from the people around you. You’re mostly invited to bliss out for two to five minutes.
Research in the Obstetrics & Gynecology study showed that lying on your back for a short time doesn’t cause any adverse effects on the baby.
- Lie on your back, with your legs and arms extended by your side.
- Externally rotate your arms, drawing your shoulder blades down your back.
- Turn your palms up toward the ceiling and draw your toes out to the sides of the room.
- Relax your eyebrows, unclench your jaw, and draw your tongue away from the roof of your mouth.
- Allow your entire body to melt against the mat for several minutes.
2. Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
Happy baby is the pose where you get to live out your inner child. In this pose, you and your baby will feel just as happy as its name denotes.
- Lie on your back, and bring your knees toward your chest. Reach between your thighs and grab onto your feet, your ankles, or your calves (whatever is most accessible for you and your bump).
- Keep your tailbone pressed down to your mat. Collide your shoulders with your mat.
- Pull your knees in and down toward your armpits. Allow your knees to stay bent and make sure your calves are parallel to the mat.
- You have the option to rock gently from side to side.
3. Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Downdog is a safe, simple inversion you can do while pregnant. Due to the hormone relaxin, you may feel less balanced than you did when you were not pregnant, so keep your hands and feet on the mat at all times.
- Place your hands under your shoulders and your feet wider than your hips to accommodate your baby belly. Push your hips up and back. Make a mountain shape with your body — with your tailbone at the peak.
- Press into your forefinger and thumb to protect your wrists. Spiral your elbows forward and hollow out your armpits.
- Straighten your legs or keep a soft bend in your knees. Drop your heels down to the mat (it’s OK if your heels do not touch the mat).
- Let your head hang heavy and gaze toward your belly.
4. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Chair pose is a back- and leg-strengthening pose, which is great for expectant mothers! Learn to prepare your body the best you can for the extra baby weight.
- Separate your feet hip-width apart for balance. Bend your knees and sink back into an imaginary chair. Lift your arms above your head.
- Cascade your hips down toward the floor almost in-line with your knees. The closer you get your hips toward your knees, the more you will engage your glute muscles.
- Roll your tailbone under to take the sway out of your low back.
- Internally rotate your pinky fingers in to draw your shoulders down and away from your ears.
- Gaze down a few inches in front of your mat.
5. Cow (Bitilasana) and Cat (Marjariasana) Pose
Cow and cat are staples in a yoga class. These counterbalancing moves may help ease back pain associated with pregnancy, like sciatica. Your back will thank you!
- Come to a tabletop position. Align your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees.
- Start with cow pose. Squeeze your shoulder blades together to open your chest. Press your tailbone up toward the ceiling simultaneously. Create a dip in your mid-back during this pose.
- Move into cat pose. Press into your palms and use that pressure to dome your upper back. Push your back up toward the ceiling to flex your entire spine. Tuck your tailbone under toward your chest.
- Link these poses, flowing through each one about eight times.
Is Yoga Safe To Do When Pregnant?
Doing yoga while pregnant can help ease the stress of motherhood. Through yogic breathing, you can help ease your labor pains and help make your pregnancy less stressful. Specific postures can help lessen aches brought on by pregnancy, and in turn, help you relax.
Your OB-GYN should always know about your yoga plans before you enroll in a class. If you’re a high-risk pregnancy, then your doctor may suggest an alternative form of exercise. “Women who have risk factors for preterm labor, vaginal bleeding, have a Previa, or premature rupture of membranes should not exercise at all,” says Draion “Dr. Drai” Burch, MD, a board-certified OB-GYN in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“I think [prenatal yoga] is great,” says Dr. Drai. “You must wear comfortable clothing that will help you stay cool.”
We agree with Dr. Drai and recommend drinking a lot of water and eating plenty of calories on days you plan to take yoga.
Convinced that prenatal yoga is right for you? Then check out our Yoga52 program and enjoy doing yoga with your baby.