Can I do yoga during pregnancy?

Q: Can I still do yoga now that I'm pregnant?

A: 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:

- Be sure to stay well hydrated. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times during class. - Don't attend Bikram yoga classes, which are taught in super-hot rooms. These sessions can dramatically increase your body temperature, which can be dangerous for your baby. - Avoid any positions that require jumping or where you may fall.

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.

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