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How to Practice Yoga Safely While Pregnant

You don’t have to give up yoga when you get pregnant, you just need to make a few adjustments to your practice.

Not only is yoga fine to do during pregnancy, it’s quite beneficial! Yoga can help expectant moms feel great and stay healthy. There are a few rules you’ll need to follow to ensure the safety of yourself and your growing baby.

First off, here's a rule that applies to all forms of exercise while pregnant. Engage in activities you already did before you were pregnant. This is not the time to be trying new things. If you haven't ever taken a yoga class, then you should stick to a specific prenatal yoga regimen that is designed for pregnant mamas-to-be at this time. If you have an established practice, you can continue it with a few adjustments.

You need to let your teacher know that you're pregnant, and which trimester you're in, at the start of a yoga class. It would be wise to arrive early to have this conversation. The teacher will be able to guide you into alternate poses. Bring a water bottle with you to your practice. It's essential to drink enough water while you're pregnant, and even more so when exercising.

Bikram or other hot yoga classes are off-limits during pregnancy. Expectant women should take care not to raise their core body temperature above 102 degrees Fahrenheit. A Bikram yoga room can be as hot as 104 degrees. Overheating in the first trimester is very dangerous because the baby's formation of the key body systems can be affected. After the first trimester, you are still at risk for fainting (because of low blood pressure) and dehydration. If you’re concerned about your body temperature during a regular practice, you can always abstain from the practice during the first trimester and try it out during the second, choosing a spot by the door for extra air and resting in child's pose when needed.

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Avoid any twists that could constrict the baby. You should not twist deeply, and any twisting should be done from the shoulders, as opposed to from the abdomen. Light twists are ok. Active core work, like crunches or bicycles, are not safe moves to perform while pregnant. You can remain in plank, or do leg lifts if you want an alternative that still builds the abdominal muscles.

Lying flat on your back later in pregnancy can put pressure on a vein called the vena cava, and subsequently, decrease blood flow to the uterus and brain. This can make you feel dizzy or nauseous. Avoid lying flat on your back. You can place a pillow under your hips so that your weight doesn't push down on the vena cava.

The most important rule for exercise and stretching during pregnancy is to pay attention to your body's signals. Do not try to maintain your pre-pregnancy endurance. You will tire out more easily than usual, at which point you can take child's pose. If you lose your breath, rest until it returns to you and then continue active poses. Yoga is really about your breath, so focus on that and you’ll have a great practice!

And of course, make sure to consult a healthcare professional before taking part in any exercise while pregnant, to find out the best course of action for you and your growing little one!

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