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

Firstly, congratulations, mama! You’ve likely come across this article as you’re expecting a bundle of joy in a few months and are wondering how to stay fit, healthy, and relaxed during your pregnancy.

If you already practice yoga, you might be wondering whether it’s safe to step onto your mat following that positive test result. And if you’ve never practiced yoga, maybe you’ve heard about the benefits of prenatal yoga and are keen to get started!

The good news is that it’s safe to practice yoga while pregnant. You’ll just need to make a few modifications and tune into your body just a little more (see How to Modify Yoga for Pregnancy for some important tips).

But don’t worry – we’re going to take you through how to stay safe during your yoga practice so that you can practice online, at home, or in the studio with confidence.

This article will cover some of the most common concerns about yoga and exercising in general during pregnancy. Plus, what yoga poses to avoid when pregnant (with safe alternatives)!

Let’s get started…

Is It Safe to Practice Yoga While Pregnant?

In short, the answer is yes. It is safe to practice yoga while pregnant – in fact, it might be one of the safest (and most enjoyable!) forms of movement for you, your body, and your baby. However, some classes and poses are not safe during pregnancy.

Related: Can You Do Vinyasa Yoga While Pregnant?

If you want to head to a regular yoga class (such as Hatha yoga), let the teacher know ahead of time that you’re pregnant and ask whether they’re confident to guide you through the class.

With that said, you should avoid some specific poses when pregnant. Let’s take a look at those and some safe alternatives for each.

Tip: Attending prenatal yoga classes when pregnant will help ensure that all of the movements are safe and that you’re under the guidance of a certified instructor.

Yoga Poses to Avoid When Pregnant

Without further ado, here are five poses to avoid when pregnant – with safe alternatives.

Savasana

How to Do Corpse Pose in Yoga

As your belly grows, laying on your back can put pressure on the vena cava and restrict blood flow back to your heart. Here are two safe alternatives to savasana pose:

  1. Lay on your left side with a pillow between your knees, under your belly, and below your head. Bend your right elbow to bring your arm beneath the pillow and rest your left hand on your left thigh or the floor in front of your belly.
  2. Create an incline using a bolster pillow or cushions and two blocks. Sit back towards your bolster cushion so that it meets with your lower back, then come down onto your elbows before laying back onto the cushion.

Chaturanga/plank pose

how to do plank pose

Chaturanga and plank pose can be safe to practice during pregnancy as long as you take precautions. As you practice, look at your belly to see if you notice any coning or protruding – if so, stop practicing the pose.

Instead, try practicing plank pose on your knees. If there’s still some coning or any discomfort, come to a cross-legged position and inhale into your belly. On an exhale, place your hands on your belly and draw your navel towards your spine as though you’re zipping your abdomen from your pubic bone to your lower ribs. Breathe normally and hold the engagement in your core for 5-10 breaths.

If it feels comfortable to continue practicing chaturanga and you don’t have any coning in the belly, you might like to bring blocks beneath your hands to allow your belly a little more space as you bend your elbows to bring your chest towards the ground.

Revolved side angle pose

how to do revolved side angle pose

Revolved side angle pose involves twisting along the midline and limiting the space that your baby has.

Instead, try practicing side angle pose or supported side angle pose.

From warrior II, bring your front hand down to a block on the inside of your foot or, for supported side angle pose, bring your elbow to rest just above your knee. Reach up to the sky with the opposite hand and focus on opening through the chest.

Wheel pose

how to do upward bow (wheel) pose

If you practiced wheel pose before pregnancy and are confident in this position, you might feel comfortable continuing practicing this pose until the third trimester.

Related: Best Pregnancy Yoga Poses for the Third Trimester

However, if you’re new to yoga or no longer feel comfortable practicing full wheel pose, try practicing bridge pose instead.

Lay on your back and bring your heels towards your glutes with your knees bent. On an exhale, engage your core as you lift your hips to the sky. Keep your hands on either side of your body, on the ground, for greater support and balance. Otherwise, you might like to interlace your fingers below your spine.

Forward fold

how to do standing forward bend pose

Folding your belly into your thighs quickly becomes both uncomfortable and impossible during pregnancy.

For both seated and standing forward folds, bring your legs wider to allow space for your belly.

Other Positions to Avoid During Pregnancy

Now that we’ve looked at some specific poses to avoid, let’s look at some of the different positions and movements that you’ll likely encounter during typical yoga practice and what to look out for.

Lying on Your Back During Pregnancy

The danger of lying on your back during pregnancy is that the weight of your uterus can put pressure on the vena cava. This is the body’s largest vein and is responsible for transporting blood to your extremities and back to your heart.

Because every body and pregnancy is different, there’s no precise time to stop lying on your back. But it’s recommended to avoid lying flat on your back from 20 weeks of pregnancy. If you begin to feel lightheaded while laying on your back, roll to your side or prop your body at an angle (as we will explain in our savasana variation later in this article).

Core Exercises During Pregnancy

Core exercises can put pressure on the uterus, restrict blood flow, and increase the likelihood of diastasis recti (abdominal separation). But when practiced safely, core exercises can be a great way to support your baby’s weight and avoid pain in the lower back.

Is Twisting Bad During Pregnancy?

Twisting can feel great during pregnancy and is safe as long as you practice safely! When twisting during pregnancy, ensure that you lengthen through your spine before turning and that your chest and belly stay open. You’ll want to twist from the upper back instead of your lower spine and focus on creating space in your collarbone.

Avoid twisting in your first trimester, as this can cause contractions.

Related: Yoga While Pregnant: First Trimester Poses & Tips

Overstretching When Pregnant

During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin increases to help the embryo implant encourages the placenta to grow and loosens your ligaments in preparation for birth.

Because your ligaments are looser, you might find it easier to stretch during pregnancy – but you can also do yourself harm! When stretching, don’t stretch beyond 50-70% of what you would normally consider being your maximum. It’s also best to avoid yin yoga or make sure that you’re practicing under the watchful eye of an experienced instructor.

FAQs

Is Downward Dog Pose Safe During Pregnancy?

Downward dog pose is safe to practice during pregnancy and can provide wonderful relief from the weight of your growing baby! For more comfort in this position, bring your feet wider apart to make room for your belly and bend your knees as much as you need to in order to keep your spine long.

Can Certain Yoga Poses Cause Miscarriage?

Although yoga is unlikely to cause a miscarriage, practicing deep twists in the first trimester might increase the chance of miscarriage. If you’re ever unsure or a pose doesn’t feel right, don’t practice.

Important: Always check with your doctor or healthcare provider before practicing yoga during pregnancy.

Is It Ok to Do Yoga in Early Pregnancy?

While it is safe to practice yoga during early pregnancy, you’ll want to make sure that you’re practicing under the watchful eye of an experienced instructor who knows how far along you are in your pregnancy.

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

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