International Yoga Day: 8 yoga poses every woman must avoid during pregnancy

Are you wondering which yoga poses are safe during pregnancy? Here are eight yoga poses you should be avoiding if you are pregnant.
yoga in pregnancy
Make sure you do yoga during pregnancy under supervision. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Tanu Kapila Loomba Published: 21 Jun 2022, 09:58 am IST
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Yoga is a practice which benefits everybody and especially, pregnant women can greatly benefit from the ancient practice. It can help to relieve muscle tension, stress, anxiety, and lower-back discomfort, aid in sleeping better, apart from strengthening the body to prepare for the emotional and physical struggle of giving birth.

If you are pregnant, you may be eager to begin your yoga practice, given the importance fitness experts give to prenatal yoga. However, it is crucial to take any required precautions. While some yoga moves are fine to continue doing throughout pregnancy, remember that not every yoga pose is suitable for expecting mothers. So if you’re new to yoga, it’s a good idea to start by knowing everything there is about pregnancy yoga.

Is yoga in pregnancy safe?

It’s not compulsory to totally give up on yoga practice if you are pregnant. It’s really important to know what yoga poses are best and which ones should be avoided when pregnant.

Yoga will calm your mind and strengthen your body. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Yoga poses and its types to avoid in pregnancy

1. Postures with belly down

Once you know that you are pregnant, avoid any postures that require you to lie down or place pressure directly on your stomach, such as cobra or locust pose (Salabhasana). Even though at the start of the pregnancy, the baby is only the size of a lentil, you should still not put extra pressure on the baby. Swap the cobra posture for a cow or a sphinx pose (first trimester only). You should not lie on your stomach after you reach the second and third trimesters.

2. Lying down on your back

Poses that are practiced on your back that take more than 90 seconds should be avoided after 20 weeks of pregnancy. During the second and third trimesters, your baby and uterus grow, putting extra pressure on your vena cava, the main vein that delivers blood from the lower body to your heart. This might cause low blood pressure and dizziness during any activity that you do.

Also, read: International Yoga Day: 5 poses to help core strengthening post pregnancy

3. Hot yoga

As your blood flow increases during pregnancy, your core temperature may rise as well. Yoga should not be done in a heated setting with severe temperatures since it puts you and your baby at risk of dangerously high core maternal temperatures.

pregnancy exercises
Be up and about during your pregnancy, but do not exert yourself. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Breath retention

Breath work practices such as “breath of fire” (or kapalabhati), that heat the body, should be avoided. Practicing breath retention such as kumbhaka pranayama, should also be avoided while pregnant. However, breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing (also known as belly breathing) and ujjayi breathing are highly suggested. Such relaxing, cooling breathing exercises are excellent to use throughout labor and delivery.

5. Deep backbends

While gentle backbends can be beneficial during pregnancy, deep backbends such as upward bow pose (also known as “wheel” or urdhva dhanurasana) should be avoided unless you’ve been comfortably practicing them prior to pregnancy. Otherwise, they can put you at danger for diastasis recti (abdominal separation).

6. Pretzel pose

Our bodies release a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy, which relaxes the ligaments within the pelvis to help the baby pass through. As a result, you’re more likely to overstretch your ligaments in certain positions, leading to joint instability and lower-back pain. During your practice, be careful not to overstretch in any pose.

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7. Postures that twist

“Closed” twists (twisting inward) squeeze the abdomen similarly to crunches, and must be avoided during pregnancy. Twisted chair, twisting moon, revolved triangle, and seated twists are all examples of twisting postures that should not be done. Open twists, on the other hand, are acceptable because they do not compress your baby’s warm and comfortable environment.

Avoid crunches if you are pregnant. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

8. Crunches

Crunches and boat position (navasana) are core workouts that compress the belly and must be avoided during all three trimesters. You do not, however, have to avoid all core exercises. Developing a strong and stable core during pregnancy will help you avoid lower-back pain and increase your stamina for labor and delivery.

Once you are pregnant, for the next nine months, your tummy is your baby’s home, and it’s your job to keep it safe.

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About the Author

Dr Tanu Kapila Loomba, Consultant – Physiotherapist, Motherhood Hospital, HRBR Layout, Bengaluru

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