When I first became pregnant, I knew I was going to need to modify my yoga practice. I loved the hot and sweaty classes at Solshine Yoga, but I knew this may need to change.

When modifying your yoga practice for pregnancy, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Every person experiences pregnancy differently
  • Take it one day at a time
  • Tune in to your body

For me, I was nauseous and exhausted in my first trimester, so the heated yoga classes were not making me feel any better. For some women, they practice hot yoga their entire pregnancy. The trick is to really tune in to how you are feeling and make sure you take care of yourself (and your baby!). There is an increased risk of neural tube defects, dehydration, and other risks for you and the fetus in hot temperatures (CDC article for more details here), so make sure to check with your doctor as you continue in your pregnancy.

For me, I stopped doing hot yoga in my first trimester, and I actually stopped doing much yoga at all because I was so nauseous that anytime I forward folded, I thought I might be sick. The best postures for me during this time were gentle, therapeutic focused postures, including bridge with a block, pranayama, cat/cow, and the warrior postures. At the end of my first trimester and now into my second trimester (I am about 5 months now!), I started to be able to do much more after the nausea and fatigue began to pass. I still do not practice hot yoga, but a warm room or unheated is great, and I just watch myself on not practicing too many chattarungas.

Some precautions/modifications:

  • Right around the end of the first tri/beginning of second, laying on the belly is uncomfortable and not recommended. Instead of belly postures (salambasana, bow pose, cobra etc), you can do birddog, supported camel pose, or upward facing dog.
  • Deep twists are uncomfortable and not recommended. Try just practicing a lunge with hands on blocks and leveling out your pelvis and engaging your pelvic floor
  • Plank becomes more and more challenging the more weight you have– try plank on the knees
  • If you become too fatigued to chattarunga, replace with cat/cow and wide knee child pose
  • If laying on your back starts to feel too heavy/blocking your vena cava, lay on your left side for savasana
  • Your body is loosening up to prepare for birth, so make sure you do not overstretch. It is very easy to overstretch your ligaments and after your pregnancy have some residual issues from it. Go only as far as you did before your pregnancy to ensure you are
  • As your belly grows, be near a wall or barre to use for support in balancing postures, or take the posture only 60% instead of your normal 90%.

Current favorite posture: bridge pose with the strap around the thighs and press outward. This engages your glutes, hamstrings, and outer hips. Because your pelvis is loosening as you prepare to give birth, this engagement in the outer hips feels AMAZING. Keep strengthening the body (this will help in delivery and recovery!), and whenever you can, also practice pelvic floor engagement.

As always, your practice, your body. Make sure you listen to your body, calm your mind, and focus on your breath.

Written by Kate Callaghan, an instructor at Solshine Yoga.