Yoga While Pregnant: First Trimester Poses & Tips

Yoga is an incredibly popular form of movement for women during pregnancy.

As well as supporting your body throughout pregnancy, labor, and birth, prenatal yoga is a great way to relax your nervous system and mind to enjoy a calmer pregnancy.

But is it safe to practice yoga during the first trimester?

In this article, we’ll look at how to safely practice yoga during the first trimester, the benefits it has on your pregnancy, and some of the best yoga poses to practice during your first few weeks as an expectant mom.

Is It Ok to Do Yoga in the First Trimester?

While most yoga teachers and studios will ask you to wait until you’re 12 weeks pregnant (or more) before attending a yoga class, it is safe to practice during the first trimester when you learn what yoga poses to avoid and how to listen to your body.

Although most yoga poses are safe to practice during the first trimester, it’s advised that you avoid deep twists and balancing poses. Nausea and dizziness can make it easy for you to fall over and hurt yourself during the first trimester. Although this is unlikely to harm your baby, it’s just as important that you consider your own safety.

When practicing yoga during the first trimester, consider a less-is-more approach and spend time getting to know more gentle practices like meditation, yoga Nidra, and pranayama. As your belly gets bigger, these tools and practices will give you something to turn to if asanas (or poses) become difficult.

What Yoga Poses Are Unsafe During Pregnancy?

As long as you’re listening to your body, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to continue your regular yoga practice during the first trimester. With that said, there are a few modifications that you’ll need to make.

Avoid:

  • Deep backbends
  • Hot and power yoga
  • Twisting from your abdomen – focus on twisting from your shoulders instead
  • Intense abdominal work and engagement
  • Putting a lot of pressure on your belly
  • Inversions – unless you practiced these before pregnancy

When practicing positions such as plank pose, half plank pose, or chaturanga, ensure that your belly isn’t coning or protruding. If so, move away from the pose or modify your position.

Related: Can I Do Hot Yoga While Pregnant? (Important Safety Tips)

Benefits of First-Trimester Yoga

Yoga is a great way to connect with your body and baby while preparing yourself for the next few months as you grow life.

Yoga is a wonderful way to help you navigate the physical changes and mental challenges that often accompany pregnancy, including:

  • Easing the aches and pains that can accompany the first trimester.
  • Relaxing your mind, helping you sleep, and supporting you in feeling more positive. After all, pregnancy hormones are very real and don’t always leave you feeling great or sleeping well!
  • Prenatal yoga will help you build the strength and endurance needed in the later stages of pregnancy as well as during labor and birth.
  • It can also help alleviate morning sickness, improve circulation, reduce swelling, and release tension from the entire body.

Best Yoga Poses for the First Trimester

Here are eight of the best and most comfortable yoga poses to practice in the first trimester and how to safely practice them.

Easy pose

Easy pose

Easy pose is an effective way to gently open the hips, meditate, and start your practice.

Come to a cross-legged position on your mat with a folded blanket or pillow beneath your sit bones. Allow your hands to rest on your thighs or knees, and take a few deep breaths to set the intention to listen to your body before you begin your practice.

If it feels good to stay here and meditate as opposed to practicing different asanas, do that!

Cat cow

Cat cow pose

Cat cow is a comfortable way to release tension in the lower back and open up the shoulders.

Start in a kneeling position with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips above your knees. Engage your core by bringing your baby towards your spine as you draw your back parallel with the ground. From here, inhale as you drop your chest and belly to the ground, lifting your tailbone to the sky and gazing forwards. On an exhale, round your spine by curling your tailbone, drawing your baby to your back, and rounding through the shoulder, gazing between your palms. Continue to move with your breath for 3-5 rounds.

Tree pose

Tree pose

Tree pose is an effective way to bring focus into your practice while opening the hips and reducing discomfort in the lower spine.

Stand next to a wall or chair that you can use for support if you need it. Bring all of your weight into your left foot as you come up onto the toes of your right foot. From here, bring your right foot to rest on your ankle, calf, or thigh – avoiding the knee. Place your hands in a prayer position at your heart center and focus on opening your left hip by drawing your left knee further out to the side.

Low lunge

Low lunge pose

Low lunge allows you to stretch your psoas muscle to reduce tightness in the hips and back.

Start in a standing position. Bring your hands to the ground as you step back with your right foot into a lunge position. Bring your left knee to the ground and place your hands on your front thigh to lift your torso upright. Sink into the hips as you stack your left knee above your right ankle. Adjust the positioning of your feet to increase or decrease the stretching sensation in your right inner hip and quad.

Downward dog

Downward dog pose

Downward dog pose allows you to connect to your whole body and create alignment in the spine. Later in pregnancy, this pose can also provide you with some relief from the weight of your baby.

Start on all fours with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and hips stacked over your knees. From here, walk your hands just one palm print in front of where they are now and tuck your toes. On an exhale, push into your feet and all four corners of your palms as you lift your hips to the sky. Press all five fingertips into your mat. Bend your knees and focus on keeping a straight spine with your head resting between your biceps. Allow your heels to sink towards the ground for a deeper stretch in the hamstrings.

Butterfly pose

Butterfly pose

Butterfly pose can be particularly soothing to your hips, and inner thighs as your body begins to change and stretch for pregnancy.

Sit on a folded blanket or cushion with your knees out to either side and the soles of your feet together. Sit tall through the spine and bring one hand to your belly and one to your chest as you breathe deeply. If you want to stretch your lower back, hinge at the hips (keeping your spine straight). If you feel no pain or discomfort, bring your hands to cup your feet and gently round your spine. You might like to add one or two blocks in front of your feet as a place to rest your forehead.

Child’s pose

Child's pose

An incredibly soothing pose, child’s pose can be practiced alone, as part of a flow, or when you need to take a break from another yoga pose.

Come to a kneeling position on your mat with your knees wide and big toes touching. Gently walk your hands forward to bring your chest and belly towards the ground. You can rest your forehead on the ground, or you might like to place a block or folded blanket beneath your forehead – applying pressure to the space between your eyebrows can be particularly soothing in this pose.

Cobra pose

Cobra pose

Cobra pose will help you gently open the shoulders and chest during the first trimester.

Lay on your belly with your hands placed on your mat under your shoulders. Point your toes away from you and bring your feet slightly apart before letting your heels fall towards each other. Push into your hands to lift your chest away from the ground while keeping a deep bend in your elbows. Gaze softly ahead and focus on keeping your shoulders away from your ears.

Tip: Plan ahead with our guide to the best pregnancy yoga poses for the third trimester!

Tips for practicing yoga while pregnant

Follow these tips to ensure you stay safe while practicing yoga during the first trimester.

  • Make room for your baby by adopting a wide-legged position in folding poses
  • Listen to your body and stop or slow down as often and for as long as you like
  • Avoid backbends and abdominal work to prevent injury
  • Stay close to a wall or chair in standing or balancing positions in case you start to feel dizzy

Check out our guide on how to modify yoga for pregnancy for more important tips!

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

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