How to Modify Yoga for Pregnancy (12 Important Tips)

Yoga is an excellent form of movement to help you stretch and move with your baby.

But, there are a number of physical and mental modifications you can do to help keep you and your baby safe.

In this post, we’re going to look at 12 important tips for modifying your yoga practice during pregnancy!

Important: Consult your physician before continuing or starting an exercise program while pregnant. When practicing yoga during pregnancy, it’s important to listen to, respect, and trust your body. Every body is different. And you’re the only person who can tune into how your body feels at any time.

Do You Need to Modify Yoga in the First Trimester?

During the first trimester, it’s normal to experience bouts of dizziness. Because of that, practice any balancing poses next to a wall or chair that you can use for support.

It’s also important that you avoid twisting your abdomen during the first trimester.

Take it easy, and don’t push yourself to do “better”. You’re growing a baby. Allow yourself the space to rest – plus, the second trimester is sure to feel like a better time to get back to your practice.

Check out our list of first trimester poses and tips to help you safely practice yoga during this phase of your pregnancy.

When Can I Start Yoga During Pregnancy?

If you already practice yoga, you can continue your practice during the first trimester. If you’re new to yoga, most yoga studios will ask you to wait until 12-13 weeks to start attending yoga classes.

Truthfully, you can practice yoga from the moment you find out that you’re pregnant. However, we advise sticking to very gentle movement and focusing on elements of yoga such as pranayama (controlled breathing) and meditation to be on the safe side.

How to Modify Yoga for Pregnancy (12 Important Tips)

Here are 12 important tips to help you approach your prenatal yoga practice confidently and better understand how to stay safe.

Use props

Props will become your best friends during your prenatal yoga practice.

Use walls and chairs to keep you steady during standing and balancing poses – you may experience dizziness during the first trimester, and later on, in your pregnancy, your center of gravity will change!

Use props during pregnancy

Bolsters, pillows, and cushions can help to make poses such as savasana, supine butterfly pose, and bridge pose more comfortable. While blocks will bring the ground closer to your hands in poses such as triangle pose and forward fold.

Choose somewhere with good airflow

Practice yoga in a spot with good airflow to reduce feeling dizzy and nauseous while allowing you to breathe more easily.

Drink lots of water

Drink water during yoga practice while pregnant

Although running to the bathroom during your yoga class can be frustrating, it’s much better than becoming dehydrated!

Keep a bottle of water next to you during your prenatal yoga practice and take sips throughout the class, remembering to drink before you feel thirsty.

Connect to your breath

Prioritize staying connected to your breath during your practice. When you feel like you’re starting to get out of breath, pause in child’s pose or a seated position and take as long as you need to reconnect to your breath.

If you’re finding it challenging to practice yoga asanas during pregnancy, another option is to practice pranayama and deep breathing instead!

Avoid laying on your belly

Avoid laying on your belly after the first trimester – for obvious reasons!

During poses that require you to lay on the belly, you might like to practice poses such as modified side-plank or cat-cow instead.

Avoid belly-up core poses

It’s better to avoid belly-up core poses in general during pregnancy. Instead, practice poses such as tabletop, modified side plank, and kegels.

Be careful with pranayama

Pranayama is a wonderful go-to during pregnancy and can help you feel relaxed, grounded, and connected to your body and your baby. But it’s important to avoid pranayama practices involving breath retention or hyperventilation.

Instead, stick to pranayama practices such as alternate nostril breathing, bumblebee breath, and belly breathing.

Avoid deep twists

Keep the core safe during pregnancy by avoiding deep twists.

Instead, spend the equivalent time sitting upright and lengthening the spine with each breath. If you feel called to twist, keep the twist open and avoid compressing the belly. In other words, avoid poses such as revolved chair pose or revolved side angle pose.

When twisting during pregnancy, focus on twisting in the upper back and engaging your core to maintain a “trunk” in your lower body.

Related: What Yoga Poses to Avoid When Pregnant (With Safe Alternatives)

Tune into your body

There’s never been a more important time to tune into your body than during pregnancy.

Your body will be changing and growing every day, which is why it’s so important to take the time to listen to it and discover what it needs at all times. While some days might call for a hatha yoga practice, others may call for deep rest and relaxation through practices like yoga Nidra.

Pay particular attention to each of your body parts when stretching, and only go to 50% of what you would consider to be your normal maximum.

Don’t feel embarrassed to take a time out! You’re more than entitled to spend an entire hour-long practice in child’s pose if that’s what you need…

Practice wide-legged folds

As your belly grows, you’ll need to make more space for your baby by practicing wide-legged forward folds. In time, it will also become impossible to practice regular folds!

Wide legged forward bend

If folding causes discomfort in the abdomen, bring your legs slightly further apart and back out of the pose a little. A great way to do this is by using blocks beneath your hands.

Avoid deep hip stretches in the third trimester

Our bodies produce more relaxin during pregnancy to help the pelvis expand in preparation for childbirth.

Because of this, it’s best to avoid deep hip stretches in the third trimester. There’s no need to overstretch a part of your body that’s already naturally opening by itself! Plus, you could do yourself damage.

Related: Best Pregnancy Yoga Poses for the Third Trimester

If the hip stretch feels good, practice it for a few breaths before moving onto pelvic tilts in cat-cow pose or seated kegels.

Practice savasana on your side

Although it’s safe to practice savasana on your back during the first trimester, you might like to move into a side savasana after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

This is because the weight of your uterus can put pressure on the vena cava – the artery responsible for bringing blood to your body and back to your heart. If there’s too much pressure on the vena cava, you may start to feel slightly dizzy.

Modified savasana

To keep savasana safe (and even more comfortable!), come on your left side with a pillow between your knees, below your head, and underneath your bump.

(This is also a great position for comfortable sleeping at night!).

The Takeaway

Yoga can feel like one of the best ways to honor and move your body during pregnancy. Connecting deeply with your breath, moving with your baby, and stretching your tight muscles will feel particularly wonderful as an expectant mom!

During your practice, pay close attention to the signals your body is giving you and avoid any uncomfortable or unattainable movements.

Always consult your doctor, midwife, or healthcare professional before starting any form of exercise during pregnancy.

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