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Q&A: Can I practice yoga during my pregnancy?

Posted: Pregnancy & Birth » Exercise » Yoga » Women's Health » Pregnancy Fitness | November 13th, 2006



Practice yoga during pregnancy -- Mama Cat yoga pose image two
Photos courtesy of Mamaste Yoga

Question: I just found out that I am pregnant. Can I practice yoga during my pregnancy?

Karen Prior replies: Yoga is an excellent exercise option in pregnancy. Prenatal yoga classes focus on stretching and strengthening muscles that will be used in labor and delivery, alleviating common pregnancy discomforts and teaching proper breathing and relaxation techniques.

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Many experts recommended that you wait until you are at least 12 weeks pregnant before attending a yoga class. This gives your body time to adjust to the initial changes of pregnancy. Consult your health care provider to be sure you don’t have any conditions that would prevent you from exercising during pregnancy.

Check with local yoga studios and online yoga directories to see if there is a prenatal yoga class near you. Some yoga exercises are contraindicated in pregnancy, and you will want to study with someone who is trained in yoga for pregnancy.

Some yoga exercises are safe to practice at home during your first trimester. Here are two gentle yoga exercises that are good for all trimesters.

Practice yoga during pregnancy -- Mama Cat yoga pose image one
Practice yoga during pregnancy -- Mama Cat yoga pose image two

Mama Cat
This is a variation of the classic cat/cow exercise. Take care not to arch your lower back in this exercise, since the lower back and abdominal muscles are already under stress from your growing uterus. The focus is on a back and forth motion and stretching the muscles of the upper back and hips, rather than the traditional focus of rounding and arching the lower back. This posture can help ease lower back and round ligament pain and has been known to encourage a posterior facing baby to turn.

1. Come to an all-fours position with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
2. Inhale and rock forward just a bit so your shoulders are slightly forward of your wrists.
3. Exhale and rock back so that your hips move over your calves, bring your chin towards your chest and spread your shoulder blades wide apart.
4. Continue this movement back and forth with your breath, inhaling as you move forward and exhaling as you move back.
5. After several rounds, you can rest in a modified child’s pose by bringing your toes together, taking your knees wider than your belly and resting your hips back over your feet.

Practice yoga during pregnancy -- Taillor Sitting yoga pose

Tailor Sitting
This exercise is a variation of the cobbler sit, or “bound angle” as it is called in yoga-speak. This posture is known as a hip-opener, but it also helps strengthen the muscles of the outer hips and relieve pubic joint pain. It is a great position to sit in to practice breathing.

1. Come to a seated position; you may sit against a wall or sofa for added back support.
2. Place the soles of your feet together.
3. Let your knees fall out to each side.
4. Draw your feet as close to the pelvis as comfortable.
5. Gently press your knees toward the floor and hold for three breaths.
6. Relax for a couple breaths.
7. Contract your seat muscles and notice if knees move slightly closer to the ground.
8. Hold this contraction and take a few breaths.
9. Slowly release the contraction and notice if the legs stay in this open position.
10. Remain in this seated position as long as it is comfortable.

© Karen Prior

Karen Prior’s impressive breadth of knowledge in the therapeutic uses of yoga, nutrition and prenatal fitness is backed by solid credentials: she is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance, a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, a clinical nutritionist and a retired La Leche League leader. Karen runs a Registered Yoga School, where she offers specialized training in prenatal yoga and yoga for children through her programs MamasteYoga and Let’sPlayYoga. Karen lives in Texas with her husband and young daughter.

One Response to “Q&A: Can I practice yoga during my pregnancy?”

1 RS says:

I had a preterm delivery on last May. And now I’m pregnant again.
What are the precautions that I must take to have a good and safe delivery?
Is sex during this pregnancy safe?

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