Photo Credit: Erin Stoneman Photography

Being physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy during pregnancy is something that most women realize is important. As yoga becomes more popular and mainstream, it has become common for pre-natal yoga classes to be offered to address a pregnant woman’s health holistically. Not all yoga classes may be appropriate for pregnant women to participate in, and much depends on the woman and her current physiological status and her previous experience with yoga.





Pregnancy results in many changes in a woman’s systems. If you are participating in a pre-natal yoga practice of any kind, here are 10 general tips to keep in mind:

1) Do not overheat. Keep body temperature within comfortable limits. 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.

2)  Keep heart rate from elevating to an excessively rapid, uncomfortable rate and always maintain your breath.
You should always have the ability to talk.
3)  Be mindful of excessive stretching. Overall, I would say this is true for anyone! However, in pregnancy, you may feel like you can stretch much deeper into many of your yoga postures, but this may be due to the change in hormones in preparation for childbirth, allowing your ligaments to become more lax. Cultivate your awareness and discernment skills and acknowledge the intentions behind the positions you are attempting to get into while exploring why you want to go deeper into a pose in the first place. More isn’t always better, nor is it always functional or useful for every day life activities.
4)  Some healthcare professionals recommend avoiding prolonged supine (lying on back) postures after around 20 weeks or first trimester. This position can potentially occlude the inferior vena cava and consequently compress the subrenal aorta. This compression can then reduce maternal cardiac output (resulting in decrease oxygen to tissues, including baby). However some healthcare professionals advise to ‘listen to your body’ and only avoid the supine position if you feel light headed, nauseous, or unwell. Check with your healthcare provider for most up to date evidence on this topic.
*Addendum: 2019 Canadian guideline for physical activity throughout pregnancy can be reviewed HERE.

5)  Be mindful 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 if needed.

6)  No need to force forward bends or twists that may be uncomfortable or even impossible to access as your pregnancy progresses! As always, listen to your body and watch for signs of distress or pain and modify as necessary.

7)  It is commonly not recommended to 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.

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, treat or act as medical advice. Please consult with your physician prior to following these tips or participating in any of these exercises or practices in this article.**