Yoga for pregnant women: benefits and contraindications
June 27, 2021
Whether you are new and just starting out or a seasoned yogini, practising Hatha Yoga can help you have a smoother pregnancy, but of course, there are changes you need to make to your routine to both avoid hurting yourself and get the benefits in the first place, best during the first 12 weeks, to stop your practice altogether. This way, you and your baby have time to adjust to each other.
The way you breathe in your yoga practice is important for several reasons. Firstly, breathing out slowly affects the parasympathetic nervous system and helps to relax the body; secondly, when you do Ujjayi breathing, i.e. closing the glottis, you keep the body warm and the mind focused. This control over the breath will help you a lot during the birth of your baby.
Can I do normal yoga when pregnant?
As for contraindications, it is best to avoid postures that put pressure on the abdomen such as Salabhasana, the grasshopper or strong twists such as Marichyasanas, in which your leg presses against your torso to rotate more. In Paschimotanasana, or seated forward bending, it is best to open your legs a little, as your baby grows, to give him or her space: you will get the same benefits and be more comfortable.
Benefits of practising yoga during pregnancy:
On the plus side, there are many postures that relieve back pain: Trikonasana, the triangle, and Parsvakonasana, or side stretch, are very good for the stretching you do. Now, par excellence, the cow-cat sequence is best for relieving lumbar tension that sometimes forms due to the weight of the baby: inhale and exhale slowly, curving your back in and out.
To prepare you a bit for birth, hip-opening postures such as Prasarita Padottanasana, the wide angle posture, and Upavista Konasana, the seated wide angle posture, are ideal. If you have been practising for longer, Padmasana, the lotus, is ideal, but don't try to force the posture if you haven't reached it yet or if your knees are bothering you.
Remember that this is a time to take it easy: elevating the legs is wonderful for circulation and helps a lot when the ankles are swollen. You can do Sarvangasana, shoulder stand, although many women prefer to do Viparita Karani and rest their legs comfortably on the wall. As for Sirsasana, headstand, there is no specific contraindication, however, there is a risk of falling, especially as your sense of balance is affected as your body changes, so it is best avoided to protect you and your baby.
Finally, listen to your body and your intuition: if something doesn't feel right, don't do it, and if in doubt, ask your teacher or sign up for your prenatal yoga class: the feeling of community will give you a lot of encouragement in these months of waiting.
Discover our online prenatal yoga classes for pregnant women.