Tips for Prenatal Yoga

Check with your care provider to make sure yoga is safe for you if you have any conditions out of the ordinary present.  There are a few key things you should pay attention to when doing yoga while pregnant.

General Guidelines:

1.  Listen to your body! – It is your best teacher.

2.  Take as many breaks as you need, and drink lots of water!

3.  Stop if you feel breathless, hot, nausea, or dizziness.

4.  Use props – blocks, straps, bolster, blankets, chairs, the wall can all be helpful.

5. Avoid lying on your back after 20 weeks as this can compress your main artery, the vena cava, which runs behind the uterus.  Prop yourself up at least 20% incline or slightly elevate one hip to avoid the pressure.  Signs of this artery being compressed can be racing or pounding heart, shortness of breath, dizziness, and general discomfort.

6.  Move mindfully with smooth gentle transitions and make sure alignment is good as your joints are looser due to the relaxin hormone that helps your body open during pregnancy and delivery.

7.  Be aware that the body’s center of gravity shifts daily and balancing can be more challenging than normal.

8. Keep the breath full!

9.  Ease back on your practice in general, focus on building strength and easing into flexibility.  Try going 80% into flexibility to avoid straining muscles, joints, and connective tissues.

10.  Maintain awareness that the weight of the belly does not strain the lower back by gently hugging in at the belly drawing your baby toward your spine.

11. Avoid learning new advanced postures at this time, though if you have an ongoing practice you may continue to practice postures that feel good to you.  See guidelines below!

9.  Enjoy a meditation/breathing practice each day of 10 minutes or more to connect to your breath and body, to increase relaxation, and to bond with your baby.  This practice will help during your delivery as well.

Alignment and Practice Guidelines:

1.  Widen your stance – make room for your baby so you are not crushing your belly!  Lean to the inside of the leg when folding forward toward one leg.

2. Do Open Twist – Avoid closed twist, go the other way an open up the pose.  With a baby in your belly you do not want to do a deep twist in the lower abdomen.  You can twist the upper back.

3. Avoid Jumping in and out of poses!

4.  Be careful with deep lunges that can strain the ligaments on the front of the pelvis and destabilize the sacrum.  In Warroir 1 and 2, on the back leg, pull the top of the femur bone (the thigh) up so it is now collasping down and straining the front of the hip.  In Bridge pose pull the inner thighs toward the floor to avoid pressing the hips to far forward.

5.  Avoid lieing on the belly.  We do not want to compress the uterus and the baby!

Abdominal Exercies you can do!!

1.  Kegels or Pelvic Floor Exercises – These are important before pregnancy, during pregnanacy and forever after!  The muscle to isolate is the muscle that stops the flow of urination.  Strengthening this muscle will help during childbirth as a tone muscle can more easily relax and more quickly recover.  It will help prevent incontinance.  Here are a few different ways to exercise and strengthen this muscle.  These can be done anywhere and anytime.  Try while in child’s pose, while sitting on a block on the knees, and at other times during the day while in the car, etc.  Make trigger reminders to help you remember to do them such as everytime you pass a red light, etc.

  • Quick pulses
  • Contract and hold for 10-30 seconds
  • Elevator method (highly recommended) – imaging hugging in at the bottom and work your way up on a 4 count drawing higher and deeper, hold 4-10 seconds, slowly release from the top down on a 4 count like an elevator going up and down 4 floors.

2.  Static abs – These are very important do to before and after pregnancy.  Avoid any crunches ( super important after delivery as well).  When we are in are 3rd trimester the abdominus recti muscle that run the length of the abdomen down the center line over the belly button, have a tendancy to separate as our bellies expand.  They may also separate during delivery.  This is called diastasis recti.  The muscles can be drawn back together after delivery with proper exercises and avoiding crunching movements that push the muscles outward.  When sitting up it is important to roll to the side first like when you get out of bed.  Also, when you cough or sneeze hold in your abdominal muscles.

  • Sitting on your knees on a block or leaning against a wall with slightly bent knees, begin with a kegel and hold the energy in at the pelvis.
  • Then draw in the abdomen muscles from the bottom up and hold these as well for 10 seconds.  With your hands on your side rib cage draw the energy from the outside toward the center hugging in toward the midline.
  • Then do 10 small inward pulses.
  • Release and relax.
  • Repeat 3-10 repetitions working your way up.

3.  Sidecore Abs

  • Lie on one side, placing bottom hand in front of you pressing the palm into the floor, the other hand supports the head gently.
  • Lift both legs to engage your side abdominal (obliks).  Hold there and then pulse the legs up on small movements 10-30 times.  Release.
  • Bring both legs up again hold top leg up and pulse bottom leg in small movements up and down 10-30 times.  Release.
  • Bring both legs up and hold bottom leg steady as you pulse the top leg 10-3- times.  Release and switch sides.
  • Clam shell – bend both knees (still on side) and lift top knee toward the sky and then down toward the knee 10-30 times.

Pranayama to Avoid:


Bastrika after 5 months

Khumbhaka – breath retention, avoid holding the breath during pregnancy

Suggested Pranayama:

Deep belly breathing:

  • Sit or lie in a comfortable position with spine in good alignment.
  • Close your eyes, place hands on the belly
  • Breath into the belly expanding the abdomen as if expanding a balloon.  Long slow inhale.
  • Exhale at the same rate drawing the belly to the spine.
  • Think about abundance and love as you focus on the breath.

Ovarian Breath:

  • Gently start moving the breath in and out.  Let your energy flow up the spine on the inhale and down the front on the exhale.
  • Imagine your uterus is a golden bowl.  Let that bowl fill up with loving energy and draw that energy up your back to the crown of your head on the inhale.
  • On each exhale, let that golden light flow over your head, down into your heart area opening the heart, and back down into the belly.

Ujjayi breath- Ocean breath:  Use this during your yoga practice to help maintain a focus on the breath.  This will help you create a steady flow of breath and energy throughout your practice.

  • Inhale and exhale deeply through the mouth while constricting the back of the throat so the breath makes a sound like an ocean wave.
  • To initially obtain this breath, start with the mouth open and make a HAAHH sound as you exhale, and an AHHH sound on the inhale for 3-5 breaths.  Then close the mouth and breathing through the nose continue making the HA and AH sounds.  It is like a darth radar breath.  It does not need to be super intense, just enough that you can hear the breath.

Sleep Breath:

  • Inhale at your normal rate a deep breath.
  • On the Exhale slowly release so the exhale is longer than the inhale
  • Try to increase the length of the exhale to twice as long as the inhale.
  • This is a relaxing and calming breath to calm the central nervous system and can be used before sleeping at night.



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