Is Yoga Safe During The First Trimester Of Pregnancy?
If you’re a long-time yoga practitioner who has recently found out that they are pregnant, the first thing that you wonder is yoga safe during the first trimester of pregnancy. In fact, you might have even asked your yoga teacher to get an informed opinion on the matter.
This is where yoga teachers can differ. Some yoga masters will recommend that you can only continue with practicing yoga until you reach your 12th week, after which you should put your yoga practice on hold. Other teachers will tell you that you can continue with your yoga practice as normal.
Yes, it can be confusing to know which path to follow.
The truth is, practicing yoga during the first trimester of pregnancy is safe and beneficial for both you and the baby, however, you will need to modify your approach and perform your poses more mindfully and carefully.
Why the First Trimester is so Important and Why Yoga Teachers Shy Away from Advising Yoga During This Time
Many yoga teachers are hesitant to advise their expecting students to practice yoga during the first trimester because it is often the most sensitive period during pregnancy. Statistics show that around 80% of miscarriages happen during this time. While the majority of these miscarriages occur due to genetic reasons making them out of the mother’s control, there are factors that can increase a mother’s risk of having a miscarriage, such as:
- Being 35 years or older
- Having suffered previous miscarriages
- Immune system deficiencies
- Uterine abnormalities
While there are no studies that directly correlate practicing yoga during the first trimester to an increased risk of experiencing miscarriages, no yoga teacher would want the responsibility in case an expecting mother does suffer a miscarriage. It’s natural that no one wants to be blamed for a miscarriage, but there is an implicated responsibility that your yoga teacher will take once you inform them that you are expecting.
Keep in mind that many yoga teachers only undergo basic yoga training, which means that many are not equipped to handle something as sensitive as first trimester yoga. In fact, serious yoga teachers must take it upon themselves to learn advanced courses in order to make their practice safer and more effective for their students. Thus, you need to be confident in the expertise of your yoga teacher before you take their advice regarding practicing yoga during your first trimester.
Poses That are Generally Safe to Women in Their First Trimester
If you feel confident in performing yoga during your first trimester with the help of your yoga teacher, here are some poses that would be safe for you to practice:
- Basic standing poses – standing poses such as the warrior pose, side angle pose, and crescent lunge are safe for women in their first trimester and helps build up core strength and balance.
- Open seated twists – helps relieve back pain and cramps by releasing pressure around the back, waist, and hips.
- Seated and standing hip openers – increases flexibility around the hips and strengthens the muscles used in labor.
- Gentle abdominal poses – increases core strength and balance. However, you need the assistance and guidance of an experienced yoga instructor in order to perform these poses safely and correctly.
Poses to Avoid While Pregnant
Here are some poses that you should avoid while you are pregnant:
- Standing twists – places pressure on the abdominal cavity.
- Back bends – stretches the abdomen too much
- Inversions – pregnancy causes low blood pressure, so doing inversion can cause you to become dizzy or lightheaded.
- Belly down postures – for obvious reasons, you need to avoid any poses that will place pressure or weight on your abdomen.
Are There Certain Kinds of Yoga I Should Avoid?
Aside from yoga poses, there are types of yoga that you should also avoid during pregnancy, such as:
- Kundalini yoga – this school of yoga involves fast-moving and intense postures and bending.
- Ashtanga yoga – an advanced school of yoga that involves complicated and physically demanding twists and inversions.
- Bikram yoga – this type of yoga is done in a sauna-style room. The increased heat and difficulty in breathing are not recommended for expectant mothers.
Should I Take Prenatal Yoga Classes Instead?
If you’re lucky enough to have prenatal classes offered near you, you should take the opportunity and sign up! The exercises and postures in prenatal yoga classes are specifically tailored for expectant mothers and you’ll have the benefit of having a yoga teacher who has the experience to teach and care for pregnant mothers. What’s more, you’ll have the added benefit of learning in an environment with your peers so that you can build friendships and bonds with other expectant mothers.
Some Final Tips on Practicing Yoga During Your First Trimester
Here are some additional tips that you should keep in mind while you practice yoga during your first trimester:
- As your body produces pregnancy hormones, you might be surprised that you have increased flexibility. This is due to the increase of relaxin, estrogen, and progesterone in your body. However, don’t overdo it! Take your time and stick to your level of stretching so that you don’t accidentally tear your tendons and ligaments.
- Avoid restricted breathing exercises. Remember, your baby receives the same amount of air that you do! If you restrict the amount of oxygen that you take in, your baby will also receive lower oxygen levels.
- Don’t let your ego or fear of “losing your progress” get in the way of having a safe pregnancy. If you feel any discomfort while performing yoga during your first trimester, you should put your yoga practice on hold.
So, is yoga safe during the first trimester of pregnancy? Yes, if you can perform it correctly. If you have an experienced yoga teacher who can guide you towards doing the modified poses, you can safely enjoy continuing your yoga practice throughout your first trimester. However, if you find that you need to stop, you should do so for the health and safety of your baby. Afterwards, you can resume your practice with minimal loss of strength and flexibility, and you’ll be back to your former yoga practice level in no time!
May 10, 2020
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