Yoga has many benefits during pregnancy including toning muscles and improving balance and circulation. It can also teach you breathing and relaxation techniques that are helpful during labor and delivery. Although there are many benefits to practicing yoga during pregnancy, there are a number of poses that should be avoided due to their negative effects on the body.
Best Types of Yoga for Pregnant Women
There are many types of yoga practices to choose from. During pregnancy, however, it is best to practice prenatal yoga. If prenatal yoga classes are not available, gentle Hatha yoga is a good alternative, although it is important to let the instructor know you are pregnant and how far along. Strenuous types of yoga such as Ashtanga and Forrest yoga should be avoided due to the intensity of the practice. Hot yoga or Bikram yoga should also be avoided due to the heated room.
Belly Down Poses
During the first trimester some belly-down poses are fine to do, such as Cobra and Locust, as long as your pubic bone is grounded and no direct pressure is on the stomach. When performing these poses it is important to focus on using the upper body for strength and the legs. Also, to help prevent any pressure on the belly, try placing a rolled-up blanket under the hips; this makes more room for the belly.
Poses to Avoid
For the most part, there are very few yoga poses that should be avoided all together during pregnancy. Those that fall into this category include back bends, balancing poses on one leg, camel pose, boat pose, wheel pose, upward bow pose and hand or headstands. These poses should be avoided for a variety of reasons including compression of the uterus, lack of balance, and over stretching, all of which should be avoided during pregnancy. Along with these poses, pregnant women should avoid lying on their back after the first trimester because it can reduce blood flow to the uterus, causing a drop in blood pressure and dizziness.
Twists and forward bends are acceptable to perform during pregnancy with slight modifications. When performing twisting poses, avoid twisting from the waist and twisting too deeply, as you don't want to compress the belly. Make sure to twist from the shoulders and the back. Also important to avoid are deep forward bends that compress the belly. When performing a forward bend it is important to bend at the hips and make space for the belly.
Lindsay Ingalls, a certified holistic health coach, began writing in 2006. She has been featured on Living Harvest, Meatless Monday and other online publications. Lindsay received her training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.