Yoga and Pregnancy

Published on June 15, 2002

Yoga physically, mentally and emotionally prepares one for the birth of a new child and supports both the mother and child throughout the pregnancy.
A yoga practice of postures, breathing and meditation creates mental
focus, concentration, discipline and stillness, enabling a smooth
pregnancy and a relatively easy childbirth.

Physically, yoga improves circulation, helping to lesson leg cramps and varicose veins and nourishing the fetus. Yoga strengthens postural muscles and can alleviate some of the minor discomforts of pregnancy such as heartburn, backache, hip joint and ribcage aches.Pranayama (breathing exercises) ensures a proper supply of oxygen, blood and energy to both fetus and mom, and reduces fatigue.

Emotionally, yoga and meditation reduce and control stress, anxiety and fear. Yoga also improves general mood and the ability to manage pain. Meditation can also create a deeper awareness and connection with the baby.

Although yoga is great to do during pregnancy, there are a few things of which moms-to-be should be careful. Avoid prolonged poses on your back after the first trimester. The weight of the fetus pressing against the Aorta can restrict the blood flow to the lower body, including the uterus.If you feel dizzy or lightheaded while on your back, immediately bend your knees and slowly roll over to your side. Avoid poses that stretch the muscles too much, particularly the abdominal muscles. You are more apt to tear and strain muscles now because the pregnancy hormone relaxin, which allows the uterus to expand, also acts on all connective tissue. Avoid all postures that put pressure on your abdomen, especially forward folds, twists and belly down postures. Modify forward folding poses with the legs apart so the belly comes between the legs, and bend from the hips, not the back. Modify the position of the legs in twists so the legs do not press against the belly, and twist more from the shoulders and back. Listen carefully to your body. If you feel any discomfort, stop. You will probably need to adapt most postures to your body’s physical changes.

A complete sequence of postures for pregnancy is now available in our premium posture sequences section.

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Timothy Burgin Avatar
About the author
Timothy Burgin is a Kripalu & Pranakriya trained yoga instructor living and teaching in Asheville, NC. Timothy has studied and taught many styles of yoga and has completed a 500-hour Advanced Pranakriya Yoga training. Timothy has been serving as the Executive Director of since 2000. He has authored two yoga books and has written over 500 articles on the practice and philosophy of yoga. Timothy is also the creator of Japa Mala Beads and has been designing and importing mala beads since 2004.
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