There are many contraindications for practicing Yoga during pregnancy, and all Yoga teachers and students should be aware of them.
Pregnant students should have formal doctor’s permission for “Prenatal Yoga”.
If you are teaching pregnant students without their doctor’s approval and you are not a certified prenatal Yoga instructor, you are “playing with fire.” It is hard enough in a yoga class to address the needs of all students. For pregnant Yoga students, I recommend a specific class.
This may seem a bit harsh, but instructors need to protect themselves legally as well as the health of their students. Once you see all the precautions and guidelines for Prenatal Yoga below, you will fully understand my point.
Conditions and Precautions for Prenatal Yoga Classes
Some of these conditions include hypertension, pre-term labor, leakage of the amniotic fluid, cervical insufficiency, pubic pain, or persistent bleeding.
Yoga practice should be discontinued if there is an absence of fetal movement, severe back pain, or fainting, and medical attention should be immediately sought.
Prenatal modifications for Savasana, (Corpse Pose), include lying on the side with pillows and blankets in a fetal pose, side semi-circle pose, or a reclining posture.
Chairs should be used in most prenatal Yoga classes, especially in third trimester. The teacher using chairs, bolsters, blankets and other props has safety in mind, has probably taken a prenatal Yoga training course, and has thought about the appropriate modifications for pregnant Yoga students.
Health clubs may not have props for their Yoga instructors to use. A well-trained Yoga instructor should be able to lead a safe and beneficial prenatal Yoga class without props, but it is so much more difficult that I would not recommend it.
- Inversions (shoulder stand, headstand, handstands, plow pose) are controversial. Many teachers avoid them in pregnancy.
- Full body twists and complete forward folds are not recommended.
- Breath holding maneuvers are definitely not recommended.
Pregnant Yoga students may have to avoid Yoga if they have:
- A history of miscarriage
- Low weight for age of baby
- Persistent 2nd and 3rd Trimester Bleeding
Important First Trimester “Red Flags”
Yoga practice should be avoided if a student has:
The student’s doctor should be consulted or officially notified in the case of the following:
- Student experiences pain not related to Yoga practice
- Student feels faint
- Student has heart palpitations
- Student feels a rapid heart beat
- Student is short of breath
- Student has difficulty walking
- Student experiences back pain
Even More Precautions for Prenatal Yoga
- After 20 weeks no supine postures
- Avoid brisk exercise in hot and humid weather
- Drink plenty of water
- Consume 300 extra calories for the baby
- Wear comfortable, cool, and supportive clothing