When you are pregnant, your body is going through tremendous changes as it adapts to accommodate the baby growing within you and prepare for birth and beyond.
Yoga can be wonderful to enjoy throughout your pregnancy (avoiding weeks 11-13), but you do need a modified practice to be safe. Generally a slow, meditative style will more suitable. Quick changes of direction or position are generally not recommended. But under the guidance of a suitably trained pregnancy yoga teacher, yoga can boost you energy when you feel fatigued, calm you when stressed, and help you sleep more soundly.
Many pregnant women suffer back, shoulder and neck pain – yoga can bring wonderful relief. And of course yoga is renowned for the breathing techniques which can be invaluable during labour.
Here are some of the changes which require modifications from a standard yoga practice:
No laying on your front:
This one is pretty obvious – after a few weeks, you just won’t want to do postures lying on your tummy, whether or not your bump is showing. So no Sphinx, Cobra, Locust, Bow poses.
No laying on your back after 18 weeks:
The weight of the growing baby and placenta can restrict blood flow back to the heart. So no Bridge or supine twist poses.
No strong twists:
Abdominal twists are contraindicated
No strong inversions:
So no headstands or shoulderstands.
No breath retention:
Your baby needs you to breathe regularly to bring oxygenated blood to the placenta
In addition to the above, your centre of gravity will be changing, so your balance will be affected making balance poses more challenging. You don’t want to risk falling so modifications are required. You’ll have the hormone relaxin in your system, relaxing the ligaments of your joints making it easy to ‘over stretch’.
Given all the above, it is clear that many adaptations are required to practice yoga safely when pregnant. So do make sure the teacher you choose has the appropriate training to give you best advice.