Can you still do yoga when you’re pregnant?

Are you still doing yoga even though you’re pregnant?

I think this is one of the most common questions people ask me (aside from ‘how do you feel?’ and ‘do you have any cravings?’)

A lot of people are surprised when I say, “actually yes. I’m still teaching, too!”

Yoga is great for the body during pregnancy — as long as you know what you should and shouldn’t do. The most important piece of advice I could give: listen to your body.

Yoga (even when you’re not pregnant) works your breath and allows your body — and mind — to relax. This in turn helps you adjust to the physical demands of pregnancy, labour and even motherhood.

For anyone who doesn’t already have a regular yoga practice, it might be better to attend classes specifically designed for mums-to-be.

If you’re a regular to saying “namaste” or don’t want to limit the types of classes you take, make sure to tell the teacher that you’re pregnant and let them know which trimester you’re in.

A lot of people will also advice you to stay out of a hot room as it can raise your core body temperature to unsafe levels. I think this is a personal decision you have to make with your OB-GYN. Personally, as I am in the hot room almost every day — and have been for years — my doctor says I can keep practicing as long as I make sure to stay hydrated before, during and after class.

A few tips for doing yoga while pregnant:

Don’t lie on your back for prolonged periods of time after the first trimester as it can reduce blood flow to the uterus. I will usually prop myself up on two blocks.

Avoid over-stretching your muscles, particularly the abdominals, as it can put you at greater risk for injury. When you’re pregnant, your body releases a hormone called relaxin, which allows your uterus to expand. However, it also releases the connective tissues, which is why a lot of pregnant women find they’re suddenly super flexible. Backbends can feel nice, as long as you listen to your body and don’t push yourself too far.

Don’t do abdominal exercises. If there was ever a time where you can sit out from doing abs, it’s when you’re pregnant. Planks and other stagnant poses that work the abdominals and core are OK, but anything that crunches the front body is a no-no. Ensure your pelvis is in a neutral position (ever-so slightly tuck the tailbone down) to relax your glutes and hips, which can relieve some pregnancy-related pain.

Don’t do twists, particularly in the first trimester. Some soft rotations are OK, but listen to your body and don’t push yourself to go into any deep twists (no prayer twists or twisted lunges).

If you notice that your center of gravity has shifted — usually in the second trimester — make sure to use a chair or wall for support. This will help you avoid losing your balance and falling.

It can also feel nice to stand or sit with your feet a little farther apart than normal to allow space for the belly when you forward fold. I’m currently in my second trimester, so I feel most comfortable with my feet about mat-width apart.

Any questions about practicing yoga when you’re pregnant? Don’t hesitate to reach out!

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