There are many advantages to practicing yoga while pregnant. One study of over 320 women found that practicing yoga once a day improved birth weight, decreased the risk of preterm labor, and decreased intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) and pregnancy-induced hypertension associated with IUGR. Yoga reduces anxiety, increases flexibility, and prepares the body for labor.
That being said, there are some yoga positions that instructors generally recommend pregnant women should avoid, especially during the second and third trimesters.
Read a list of yoga positions to avoid during pregnancy after the jump!
Avoid Deep Twisting, Serious Stretching, or Lying on the Bump: Generally, mommas-to-be should avoid poses that deeply twist, compress, or stretch their stomachs, including deep side twists like revolved triangle, as well as back bends. Skip full wheel, plow, boat, and cobra. When doing moves with a lighter twist, be sure to twist from the shoulders, not the stomach. Instead of wheel, do bridge.
Avoid Hot Yoga: Doctors advise patients not to raise their core temperatures while pregnant, so practicing hot yoga or Bikram is generally not recommended.
Avoid Savasana: You’ll also want to avoid lying directly on your back, as this position can put pressure on the baby’s blood supply. Instead, curl up on your left side or sit in a cross-legged position during savasana.
Avoid Rapid Breathing: Any pranayama that requires you to pant or hold your breath compromises the baby’s oxygen supply. Practice deep, steady breathing instead.
Avoid Holding Poses Too Long: Similarly, holding poses for an extended period of time can impact your baby’s oxygen supply.
Avoid Inversions: While some experienced yogis continue do to inversions, such as shoulder stand and handstands, throughout pregnancy, it is generally recommended that mommas-to-be skip any move that put them upside-down.
Avoid Unassisted One-Leg Stands: Since your center of gravity shifts while pregnant, stand near a wall or chair when doing any one-leg balance pose, like airplane.
Avoid Jumps: Jumping moves put unnecessary stress on your joints.
While it may seem that there are many yoga moves you cannot do while pregnant, there are many poses to enjoy. Hip-openers, like pigeon, triangle, and warrior II, will open your hips, increase flexibility, and prepare you for birth. Positions in which you’re on all fours, like cat-cow, can help move the baby into optimal position. If you’re attending a non-prenatal yoga class, be sure to let the instructor know you are pregnant and would like her to offer you modified moves. Above all else, listen to your body – if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it!
Also on Babble: 10 great benefits of prenatal yoga