Safety Tips for Prenatal Yoga
It’s well known that yoga is a fabulous way to support physical, emotional and psychological health. People everywhere—including pregnant women—are embracing it for a variety of reasons. And at One Community, we commonly recommend it to patients as a way to enhance whole-person health.
As stated by the American Osteopathic Association, the potential perks of yoga are plentiful. When practicing yoga safely, people may experience:
- less chronic pain
- lower blood pressure
- greater quality of sleep
- improved flexibility
- more muscle tone and strength
- improved respiration
- more energy and vitality
- a more balanced metabolism
- better weight management
- cardio and circulatory health
- improved athletic performance
- lower risk of injury
If you’re pregnant, prenatal yoga can also be very beneficial to both you and the baby. It can strengthen the pelvic floor, prevent low back pain, improve a sense of well being for yourself and your baby, prevent or treating post-partum depression, and improve circulation to your baby.
Before you engage in this activity, speak with your provider first to make sure it will be safe for you and the baby. Of course, unless you are very experienced in yoga, consider practicing with a teacher who specifically teaches prenatal yoga so to help support you and prevent injury.
Here are five pointers to keep in mind:
- If it feels bad, don’t do it. When you start yoga or if there are any particular positions or stretches that don’t feel quite right, trust your instincts and listen to your body. If it feels good—go for it!
- Lying on your left side is the best choice during pregnancy. Lying flat on your back for a long time can compromise the circulation of deoxygenated blood getting back to the heart and lungs. Lying on your belly obviously puts pressure on the uterus and isn’t recommended either.
- Avoid “closed twists.” In other words, try not to twist across your body, which closes down the space in the abdomen. “Open twists” that leave plenty of room for the baby are ok. As your yoga instructor for examples or ask your One Community Health OB provider to explain this to you if it’s confusing.
- Choose gentle inversions over inverted poses. For example, an inverted pose requires putting your feet up over your head or flipping upside down. Gentle inversions, like the supported bridge pose, are a better option.
- Lengthen your psoas. The psoas, or hip flexor, is a large muscle that connects the low back to the front of the hip. This muscle shortens during pregnancy and can cause low back pain. Therefore, poses that lengthen the psoas, such as gate pose or low lunge, are great choices, particularly in pregnancy.
Source: American Osteopathic Association.
Natalie Speck, MD
One Community Health