Prenatal Yoga Basics: Dos and Don'ts

Updated: Nov 25, 2019

Here is just a very brief overview of things to do and avoid in your yoga practice while pregnant. To learn more, check in with your provider first and then consider joining a local prenatal yoga class!

Why prenatal yoga? Yoga during pregnancy can: improve strength, mobility, and flexibility; decrease pain and discomfort; improve sleep and relaxation; promote connection with baby; help with self-acceptance; and aid in digestion.

I’m in! What do I need to know? First and foremost, get clearance from your doctor or provider! Beyond that, here are some general guidelines:

---Things to DO During Prenatal Yoga---

-Get doctor or provider clearance first (have I said that enough yet?!)

-Slow your movement pacing. Your energy, balance, and center of gravity will change regularly! -Widen stances to make room for the belly (downdog, folds, lunges)

-Limit stretches to 80% of your capacity to avoid overstretching due to relaxin

-Try a blanket or pillow under your hips, especially if your having tailbone or hip pain

-Try hands on props for lunges and folds. This can even be helpful in tabletop or cat/cow pose if you have carpal tunnel -Practice near a wall or chair for balances -Use props to make a ramp if lying down. I like to take one yoga block at a medium setting and a second at a low setting toward the top of a bolster, with a blanket at the base. -Stop or avoid poses if uncomfortable -Take breaks when needed -Stay hydrated

-Take elevated or side-lying savasana (rest)

---Things to AVOID During Prenatal Yoga---

-Lying face-down on the belly -Lying on the back for long holds. The weight of the placenta can compress the vena cava. -Deep/full backbends

-Deep forward folds with head down. Try using blocks or putting hands on your thighs instead. -Compressive abdominal work (eg: sit ups) -Full body or low spinal twists. -Full inversions (eg: handstand) -Overstretching -Child’s pose with knees together. Instead, widen the knees to make room for belly.

-Holding the breath

-Long, heated yoga practices

-Balancing without support available


With all things perinatal, you may hear and/or read conflicting advice, even between experts. Yoga is no exception. Here’s my suggestion: 1) Follow advice from your provider(s) 2) Listen to your body; if it doesn’t feel comfortable, stable, and safe then skip it! 3) Do a gut check: does this make sense or feel “right” intuitively?

Me practicing with my mini-yogi in 2018 <3