Wondering if you can still do yoga during pregnancy?
Not only is yoga safe for most pregnant women, it's also a soothing form of exercise with plenty of health benefits for you and your baby. These include strengthening your body for labor, toning your pelvic and abdominal muscles, which can minimize back pain, and teaching you breathing and relaxation techniques to keep you calm during pregnancy and focused during labor. But you may need to modify your sun salutation regimen now, and especially as you get further along in your pregnancy.
As your belly expands, it throws off your center of gravity, which can make balancing poses (like Tree or Dancer) more difficult. Plus, the ligaments surrounding your joints will be much looser now that you're pregnant (thanks to increased production of the hormone relaxin), which makes it easier to hurt yourself. So don't get into positions that feel uncomfortable or put pressure on your joints.
Here are some other safety tips to follow:
Your best bet is to take classes designed for moms-to-be, which will accommodate your changing needs and physical limitations. If you attend regular yoga classes, be sure to let the instructor know you're expecting, so she can help you modify postures that may be challenging or unsafe now.
"Sun salutations are an amazing practice for pregnant women because it literally works every muscle in your body. It's a great way to get your body moving in the morning," says yoga instructor and doula Amber Allen.
But Allen also maintains that sun salutations should been modified for pregnant yogis.
"Sun salutations vary throughout the spectrum of yoga traditions," she says. "Depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, refrain from laying on your stomach when you start to feel the fundus of your uterus growing upward and outward. Upward-facing dog may be very stressful on the round ligaments of the belly, so just keeping your spine in a neutral position during that point in the sun salutation series will help prevent any pain or discomfort."
Allen believes sun salutations are amazing for your body, both inside and out. Can they tone your shape?
"Definitely," the yogi says. "Just be mindful that pregnancy is not a time to take up a rigorous yoga practice. Prenatal yoga is known for helping move the body in a gentle and relaxing way, mimicking how your body is slowing down to prepare for the next chapter in your life."
Allen breaks down all the steps to a sun salutation below: