Being physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy during pregnancy is something that most women realize is important. As Yoga becomes more popular and mainstream in our western world, it is a natural progression for pre-natal yoga classes to be offered to address a pregnant woman’s health holistically. However, there are some precautions that one should be aware of before participating in a yoga class when pregnant. Pregnancy results in many physical changes of a woman’s body and consequently can cause issues such as low back pain, pelvic pain, incontinence,
postural changes, and balance problems just to name a few. In fact, over 70% of pregnant women experience low back and pelvic pain (Mogren, 2005). One may think that continuing with their regular strengthening, stretching, and core strengthening routine, or enrolling in a pre-natal yoga class may help their current pre-natal aches, pains, and other issues. Unfortunately, simply attending a regular fitness class, yoga or pilates class isn’t always safe and appropriate when you are pregnant. The good news is that there is a great deal of evidence showing that specific exercise programs designed and delivered by physiotherapists can relieve low back pain, pelvic pain and urinary incontinence in pregnant women (Morkved, 2007). A physiotherapist assessment followed by an individual treatment program, which may include yoga postures, can help you safely and effectively participate in a home program or class setting in order to gain the specific strength, stability, flexibility, balance, postural control, and pain management required to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
If you are participating in a pre-natal yoga practise or exercise program of any kind, here are 10 general tips to keep in mind:
Avoid dehydration, which is more likely to occur in a hot yoga environment. Fluid losses increase your heart rate and decrease blood volume, potentially causing fetal stress.
You should always have the ability to talk.
5) Caution with standing balance postures! Your center of body mass will change dramatically, causing your balance to become altered. Walls and sturdy chairs can be used for extra support.
6) Avoid aggressive forward bends or twists. As always, listen to your body and watch for signs of distress or pain and modify as necessary.
7) Do not perform any pranayama (breath work) that involves retaining the breath or overheating the body.
8) Yoga inversions, such as headstands, are controversial. The main danger during inversions is the risk of falling and injuring yourself or your baby during the fall. As a general rule, if you practised inversions prior to your pregnancy, it is safe to continue IF you are tolerating the pose with great ease and your breathing is not labored. Currently there is no evidence supporting the fact that inversions are dangerous during pregnancy.
9) Postures in the prone (lying on stomach) position are not dangerous, however, they tend to become very uncomfortable and physically impossible, therefore, inappropriate.
10) Pay attention to any ‘warning signs’such as light headedness, unusual nausea or vomiting, increased low back or pelvic pain, or any pain in general, decreased fetal movement, spotting or fluid leakage, or any other symptoms that you are unsure about. Yoga will not necessarily‘cause’ these symptoms, but if you have pregnancy related conditions, you may need to avoid
exertion or certain yoga postures.
Please always inform your doctor before you participate in any pre-natal exercise class or activity, including classes such as ‘pre-natal yoga’.
It is important that you let your therapist or instructor know when you are in pain or feel uncomfortable in any way. As always, know and respect your own limits and ‘listen to your body’.
This article was not intended to diagnose or treat. Please consult with your physician prior to participating in any exercise program or yoga class.