Yoga Poses To Avoid During Pregnancy: What To Do Instead

July 19, 2023
Rani – July 19, 2023
Yoga Poses to Avoid During Pregnancy(What to Do Instead)

Yoga is not just for burning body fat. It is great for both the body…

Yoga is not just for burning body fat. It is great for both the body and mind. A healthy mind resides in a healthy body. We can get enough motivation to exercise daily when we opt for yoga and get to see the miraculous results that ensue. Yoga is easy on the body and helps to tame the body for a better quality of life. Discover which yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy, and find suitable alternatives to practice instead. This helps ensure a safe and enjoyable prenatal yoga experience for expectant mothers.

Worldwide acceptance of yoga as the pride of India in terms of holistic wellness has led to the development of customized variants of yogic postures for pregnant girls who cannot flex themselves to risk it. The breathing rhythm established by yogic practices will be your faithful ally in the pregnancy journey ahead as it quells stress hormones and stimulates relaxation. Deep belly breathing engages the abdominals and brings in more oxygen to the baby. It helps soften the muscles around the pelvic floor and opens it more, thus helping in a healthy delivery.

Yoga thus finds a place in the pregnancy exercise chart of health-conscious mommies-to-be by helping them lower their heart rate and blood pressure by providing thorough relaxation. Learning to relax is vital during preggie days. Poses like side-lying Shavasana (corpse pose) are highly restorative as they can melt away any fatigue associated with pregnancy. But not all yogic postures can be safely practiced through the pregnant days because…

Yeah. The Physical Changes!!

Bones can lose calcium during pregnancy. The internal organs will cram inside the body. The squeezing also affects the bladder. Joints are looser as connective tissue relaxes. The steady muscle activity of the digestive and eliminative tract slows. There is an increase in blood volume, which can contribute to varicose veins. Skin is stretched and breasts are engorged along with the belly. Weight gain is also a sure thing.

Understanding The Risks Of Certain Yoga Poses

Understanding the Risks of certain yoga poses during pregnancy

Which Are The Yoga Poses To Avoid During Pregnancy?

Each individual may have health complications as well. Say, one has preeclampsia – yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy by that individual would be the vigorous ones, and those which bend the head lower, thus bringing fluctuations in the blood pressure levels. Yoga poses that demand you to be in a supine (lying flat on the back) position can bring on vena cava syndrome in the mother. Postures that involve inversion can bring about umbilical cord entanglement as well. 

Yoga Poses To Be Avoided During Pregnancy 

Pose 1: Deep Backbends And Twists

Pose 1: Deep backbends and twists posses potential risk
  • Explanation Of Potential Risks

Yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy are those that would involve deep bends and twists would include poses like the matsyasana/fish pose, suptavajrasana, dhanurasana/bow pose, shalabhasana/butterfly pose, bhujangasana/cobra pose, etc. that involve bending of the spine in varying degrees. These help to work the core muscles. But when you are in the family way, bending and twisting the back will have its complications as they will develop exaggerated arching of the lower back and increased rounding forward of the upper back due to the weight of the growing stomach. To support the belly weight, the chest muscles tighten while the abdominal muscles get stretched. Diastasis recti and joint imbalances (that lead to sciatica which is already an issue among pregnant women) are the most likely risks.

During pregnancy, the body releases the hormone relaxin, which causes the ligaments of the pelvis to become loose. Improperly performing a backbend can easily cause one side of the pelvis to slip up, resulting in low back pain or sciatica. You can go safe practicing backbends that target only the upper spine. You should not go for twists in the stomach, especially during the first trimester.  Gentle back bending can help you stretch and feel the tension at the backbone region vanish.

  • Alternative: Gentle Spinal Stretches And modified Twists

The safer alternative is to perform the Ustrasana/Camel Pose with blocks, which allows for a gentle backbend. This modification guarantees that you bend your back in a controlled and safe manner. Another safe option will be to do the urdhvamukha svanaasana (upward-facing dog) with a bolster supporting the tops of the thighs thus minimizing the downward pull of gravity and the overstretching of the abdominals. You can do a cow/ cat pose with the help of props to stretch your back gently. 

Pose 2: Inversions (Headstands, Handstands, Shoulder Stands) 

Pose 2: Inversion poses should be avoided during pregnancy (headstands, handstands, shoulder stands)

If you have been doing headstands and handstands during the pre-pregnancy days it is great! But starting to do them while carrying a baby is not a great idea. Performing the backbend in this manner during the first trimester may interfere with the placenta becoming attached to the uterus. Compression and entanglement of the umbilical cord is another fatality.

Inversions in yoga is one of the yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy in the third trimester, as the significant weight from the placenta, baby, the amniotic fluid,  and the other abdominal organs fall back down against the diaphragm which could limit maternal breathing as well as increase inter-thoracic pressure on the heart. This could lead to a breech positioning of the baby further complicating things. It’s true that the inversions will help solve any issues regarding your endocrine system. It will also help drain the excess fluids forming oedema in the legs which is another problem ubiquitous among pregnant women.

But it can be tricky when it comes to balancing, especially as your stomach grows. You may risk sciatica and a displaced spine. Some of the yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy include Sheershasana (headstand), Bridge Pose, Dolphin Pose, Wide-Leg Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana), and others. You can use a chair or bolsters to support you while doing the asanas.

You can do the leg up the wall for support and keep the leg raised to drain the fluid accumulated around the ankles. Such alternative forms of inversions may help to relieve tired, aching legs, and swollen feet by improving the blood flow, calming the nervous system, balancing hormones, and draining the lymphatic fluids. It also aids in the elimination of toxins.

Pose 3: Abdominal Crunches And Strong Core Exercises.

Pose 3: Abdominal crunches and strong core exercises should not be practiced during pregnancy

When your belly gets bigger during pregnancy, doing ab crunches relies on support from your pelvic organs. Strong abs can also alleviate pressure on your back and promote correct posture. Abdominal crunches like a one-legged downward facing dog, plank pose, naukasana/ the boat pose, and cat or cow pose are all yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy. Pregnant women should avoid yoga poses like Pavanamukthasana (Wind-Relieving Pose), Boat Pose, and others that require lying on the back. These poses can induce vena cava syndrome, leading to lightheadedness. Lying on your back in these poses can induce vena cava syndrome, which can lead to lightheadedness. You need to breathe steadily and tilt your back or prop it up to avoid lying flat on your back. You need to be careful while doing abdominal crunches as it may risk a hernia in the long run.

The alternatives would be softcore strengthening exercises like planks. You can perform side planks by keeping your knees bent. While doing the marjarasan or cat pose and cow pose, be careful not to push your body too far, and be mindful of your front abdominal wall if you feel a ripping or pulling sensation, stop immediately. You can keep your legs raised with props or pillows and do the naukasana. 

Pose 4: Intense Twists And Binds 

Yoga pose to Avoid 
Pose 4: Intense twists and binds

Intense twists with high lunges, ardhamatsyendrasana, marichyasana, etc Closed twists can potentially strain the abdominal muscles which are already stretched to accommodate the growing uterus. These are yoga poses to be avoided during pregnancy because they will limit the baby’s space and can restrict blood flow to the uterus which is disastrous.

You can opt for gentle seated twists and modified binds, such as the Sage Twist/Bharadwajasana, as alternatives. These poses provide a milder twist and can be performed safely during pregnancy. Make sure you lengthen the spine before twisting to create a sense of space between the vertebrae lifting through the sternum to draw the rib cage up to make sure you do not twist your abdomen.

Pose 5: Deep Forward Folds And Compression Of The Abdomen 

Yoga pose to Avoid 
Pose 5: Deep forward folds and compression of the abdomen

Balasana / child pose, toe touching, downward facing dog, bound angle pose, etc bring you to deep folding forwards. The compression of the abdomen is risky as it can limit the blood flow to the uterus. 

Instead of avoiding these yoga poses during pregnancy, you can opt for gentle seated folds with props. These modifications allow for safe and comfortable practice.

You can do a balasana/ child pose or puppy stretch with your head resting on the pillow. You can use props while doing a one-legged pigeon pose ( eka pada kapotasan) as well. While doing forward bends like in the downward-facing dog or trikonasana, you can bend to a chair or table and give the much-needed stretch to your spine.

Pose 6: High-Impact Or Vigorous Exercises

Yoga poses to Avoid 
Pose 6: High-impact or vigorous exercises

People often engage in high-impact exercises like Bikram yoga, power yoga, and others, primarily to maintain healthy body weight. Pregnant ones should stay away from these high-impact vigorous exercises as they may cause dehydration, hyperthermia, palpitations, spinal misalignment, entanglement around the baby’s neck, and various other complications. 

An alternative would be low-impact exercises like walking which is low risk and burns enough fat. It helps to relax you and increase oxygen assimilation.

Modification And Safety Tips

You can modify yoga postures to ensure that you can safely practice and maintain your health throughout the delivery process. This approach helps you prepare for a smoother delivery experience. Each trimester will have different tolerance levels for physical activities. Being in the first trimester requires extra caution as it marks the crucial period when the placenta attaches to the uterus. Additionally, during this time, the baby is settling into its new home, and it is important to avoid activities that may cause discomfort. The second and third trimesters are okay for gentle to moderate-intensity yoga.

Modification and safety tips to care about during pregnancy

Safety Tips

It is important to pay attention to your body and be aware of any signals or discomfort it may be given during exercise. If you experience any form of discomfort, it is necessary to cease the exercise. If the discomfort persists, consulting with a doctor is recommended. Staying hydrated during the exercise is a must. You should avoid overexertion at any cost, no matter how healthy you feel. 

You can use props like blankets, blocks, pillows, chairs, etc for making sure that you are not exerting or bending too much. It helps you to maintain your balance as well, towards the later stages of pregnancy. With the baby bump and the weight gain, you have to be careful about any slippage or losing balance. Invest in a good-quality yoga mat and make sure it won’t slip. You can do yoga in short bursts twice a day instead of one heavy sweating session. Do wear breathable materials. Have the exercise props ready before starting the session. 

In cases of bleeding, all types of yoga should be avoided. If there has been a previous miscarriage, practicing yoga should be avoided. Similarly, in situations where pregnant women have congenital health problems, it is best to avoid yoga. Those expecting complicated delivery should also do yoga only after seeking medical advice.

Prenatal Yoga

Safe Prenatal Yoga Practice

Prenatal yoga is a lighter version of traditional yoga that concentrates on flexibility, breathing, and relaxation techniques. It involves gentle stretching and light exercises so that you keep the blood flowing in your system. It also helps with preparing you for hassle-free delivery and recovery. Even individuals who have never engaged in any exercise before can participate in prenatal yoga. It also helps to bond with other moms creating social interaction. 

Summing Up…

Darling Moms-to-be! You need to stay in good health during the pregnancy. Being overenthusiastic about yoga and going in for the poses which will make you sweat like a pig can create complications like hyperthermia, palpitations, dehydration, etc. Doing prenatal yoga under the guidance of a certified yoga instructor will help you in the prenatal and postnatal phases. It helps you with maintaining flexibility in a stress-free manner. 

If you are a pro at yoga, you can continue practicing but make sure you watch out for the yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy like those involving deep back and forward bendings, inversion, ab compression, etc. Better to be safe than sorry! Protect your baby inside the bump with lots and lots of care and love.🌹


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