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Yoga Poses To Avoid When Pregnant

Doing A Safe Yoga Practice During Pregnancy

Prenatal Yoga for Beginners: Yoga Poses to Avoid During Pregnancy

Prenatal yoga is a popular way for expectant moms to stretch and relax during pregnancy, plus learn techniques that they can use during delivery. If you go to a prenatal yoga class, the poses will be adapted for pregnancy when necessary, but if you want to practice on your own or are wondering why particular poses are to be avoided, this guide makes it all clear for you.

Make sure to consult with your prenatal healthcare provider before starting any exercise regime, especially if you have a high-risk pregnancy.

Fast Flowing Poses Or Jumping From One Position To Another

Conception is followed by a whole whirlwind of events to form complicated organ systems and body structures. In the first trimester, the upward moving energy gets disturbed and many women experience nausea.

During this time, avoid doing yoga asanas or sequences quickly. Grounding and more restorative postures are better for supporting the growing fetus and will help with the complications that could arise during this time.


Centering poses will balance and regulate the bodys energies to move in their appropriate directions.

Poses To Avoid/Modify: Fast flowing or jumping from one pose to another.

Safety Guidelines For Yoga During Pregnancy

To help ensure you and your foetus are as safe as possible as you practice prenatal yoga, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Donât do back bends or strong body twists

  • Avoid lying flat on your back, especially after youâre 16 weeks pregnant

  • Donât lie upside down or on your belly

  • Donât do inverted poses like shoulder stands or headstands

  • Avoid stretching too far or strenuously

  • Donât do exercises that involve holding your breath or taking short, forceful breaths.

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How Do We Know What Yoga Poses To Avoid When Pregnant

Pregnancy Yoga Poses To Avoid

Following is a list, albeit not exhaustive, of yoga poses to consider avoiding while pregnant based on my personal experience and training. Nonetheless, should you have questions, it is always recommended to consult with your healthcare provider or a yoga instructor knowledgeable with modifications for pregnant women.

1. Abdominal poses: Consider avoiding poses that require contraction of the abdomen , especially during the first trimester. Transverse abdominal exercises practiced in the second and third trimester, however, can support a healthy and strong back and will aid in pushing during labor.

2. Backbends: Intense backbends such as full wheel can potentially overstretch the abdominal muscles, so should be practiced with caution or skipped altogether. Emphasis should be placed on safe backbends that target opening of the upper back rather than exacerbating the already present arch of the lower spine, and opening the chest to counteract rounding of the shoulders and upper back, a byproduct of the growing and expanding belly.


4. Deep or closed twists: It is best to refrain from closed twists , which are optimal for the nonpregnant body as they work to compress and cleanse the internal organs. However, for pregnant women, deep twists could affect blood flow and oxygen traveling to baby. Instead, focus on open twists with baby pointed forward, which aligns with the idea of creating space for baby to grow and expand in utero.

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Modification: Chaturanga To Upward

To keep your belly from hitting the ground, perform the sequence on blocks. You can also come down on your knees if the weight is too heavy to support.

At some point, the stretching of upward-facing dog may be too much for your stomach and at that point, youll want to skip it and transition straight into downward dog from standing poses.

Poses That Pregnant Women Should Avoid

Pregnant women should avoid these movements and poses:


Over-stretch: The body produces a hormone throughout pregnancy called relaxin, which is intended to soften your inflexible parts to make room for the baby and prepare for birth. It’s easy to over-stretch and injure yourself. Try to avoid going further into poses than you are accustomed because a pulled ligament is a serious injury that takes a long time to heal. Be especially aware of your knees.

Pregnant women are vulnerable to over-stretching because of the hormone relaxin. Make sure you adapt your poses to prevent injury.

Twists: Deep twists from the belly, such as Ardha Matsyendrasana, compress the internal organs, including the uterus. Instead, twist more gently from the shoulders, or take an open twist, which means twisting away from your forward leg so that your belly has a lot of room instead of getting squashed.

Jumps: Jumps pose a slight risk of dislodging the fertilized egg from the uterus and should be avoided early in pregnancy. Later on, you probably will not feel like jumping.

Fast Breathing: Any pranayama requiring breath retention or rapid inhales and exhales should be avoided. Begin to practice birthing breath instead. This technique has a direct application to the birthing process. Learning to focus on the breath and use it to keep you anchored in the present moment may be the most useful thing you learn from prenatal yoga.


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  • If possible, find a qualified prenatal yoga instructor who can ensure you are practicing safely.
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What Is The Risk Of Lying On Your Back During Pregnancy

Yoga Poses : Yoga Poses to Avoid While Pregnant

Lying on your back during pregnancy can be problematic if it puts pressure on the vena cava. The vena cava is your body’s largest vein. The vena cava’s purpose is to transport blood from your body’s extremities back to your heart.


Normally, lying on your back would not put excessive pressure on the vena cava, but a pregnant person has the weight of her unborn baby, placenta, and extra uterine fluid sitting right atop the vena cava if they lies on their back. This amount of pressure can decrease blood flow to the uterus and the brain, which could make you feel dizzy or even affect your baby.

During the early stages of pregnancy lying on your back should not be a problem, as long as your doctor gives you the OK. Exactly when it becomes unsafe will vary from person to person and from pregnancy to pregnancy. If you prefer to follow a rule, stop lying on your back after 20 weeks of pregnancy. If you feel uncomfortable or lightheaded when you lie on your back, you should stop these positions.

Supine poses can be modified by turning onto one side or the other often with the use of pillows and bolsters. Keller advised, “Instead of lying on your back in savasana, try propping yourself up into a reclined cobblers pose or reclined goddess pose.”

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Plank Cross And Its Variations

Aside from the Plank Cross Pose, there are many other variations of the twist, including seated ones. For the Plank Cross, you will twist through your torso and then close in on your belly. Now, if you have been doing twists before you got pregnant, it might be fine to continue it through your first trimester, but do it only if it feels good for your body. However, beyond this stage, you should avoid it as it can put too much stress on your belly.


Yoga Poses And Practices To Avoid During Pregnancy

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From delicious sashimi, to a cold beer on a sunny day, to a decadent chocolate mousse, or a complex Shiraz, the list of things we cant eat, cant drink and cant do during pregnancy seems to grow on the daily! This can be frustrating, or feel limiting.

Luckily, the yoga “rules” have paradoxically remained constant. While there are things to avoid, there is still so much you can do.

So rather than focusing on the limits, lets look at the opportunity .

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First Trimester Donts: Contraindicated Poses

Pregnant women should avoid most inversions because you dont want to encourage circulation away from the uterus. And because of the low blood pressure pregnant women usually experience, inversions can cause dizziness. The one exception, however, is Adho Mukha Svanasana , which is fine for short periods of time. Because of the physical demands during the first trimester, these women should not do high-energy sequences such as intense vinyasa series and Sun Salutations with jump-backs. Avoid teaching them most backbends because these stretch the abdominal muscles too much.

Any Twist That Compresses The Belly

The 5 Best Yoga Poses for Pregnancy and 4 to Avoid

This includes poses like Ardha Matsendrasana , Prayer Lunge Twist, and Utkatasana with a Prayer Twist.

Try this: Luckily, its easy to modify these twists by either twisting AWAY from the knee or by simply staying upright when you twist. Think about twisting more in the shoulders, chest, and upper back, and not twisting into the belly. Think about keeping your belly button facing straight ahead.

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Who Are You Dealing With

First of all, chat with your student to find out how shes doing. What week is she in? Is this her first pregnancy? Does her doctor think things are going well? What is her yoga experience? Not only will this give you an idea of how to modify the class for her, but it will help the student relax and feel that her condition is being addressed.

I am a person here to do yoga first, and a pregnant woman second, Heilbronner says. Its just as if I had a shoulder injury that the teacher needed to be aware of and modify poses for.

Once you have determined the students general health and her familiarity with yoga, you can figure out what poses will need to be adapted. An experienced yogini in her second pregnancy can handle a lot more than a first-time mother who has never done yoga, but you should be aware of the essential modifications to apply to both.

See also Which Yoga Poses Are OK for First Trimester?

Yoga Poses For Pregnancy: Standing Pose

Start with your arms alongside your body and as you inhale, reach your them out and up and over your head. Then, as you exhale lower them back down towards the sides of your body. “Inhale for four counts on the way up, exhale for four counts on the way down,” says Nadia. “Do this 6 to 8 times.” She also advises that this move is helpful if you’ve been sitting at a desk all day. “It’s good for posture, creating space through the sides of your body and helps to get the body and breathe in a nice, steady rhythm.”

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Chatarunga To Upward Facing Dog Poses

This pose is OK until you reach late pregnancy. In this pose, you need to keep your pelvis high, but when your stomach grows, it can prevent it.

Modification: Chatarunga to an upward facing dog on blocks

In this case, blocks will prevent your belly from hitting the floor. If your weight is to heavy to support, you can come down on your knees. There will be a time when you wont be able to stretch to an Upward dog, so in that case, you can come down to a Downward dog from a standing position.

Types Of Yoga Postures You Should Avoid During Pregnancy

Yoga Poses : Yoga & Pregnancy: Positions to Avoid

Overstretching the muscles, twisting, and bending could be harmful to you and the fetus. Here are a few types of postures that are considered unsuitable for pregnant women.

  • Abdominal poses that require compression of the abdomen are not ideal. These can constrict the blood flow to the fetus and stretch the ligament too.
  • Closed or deep twists involve compressing the internal organs and affect the supply of oxygen and blood to the fetus. Instead, try open twists, where you twist away from the bent leg rather than towards it. In any case, consult your doctor before attempting it .
  • It is better to avoid breathing techniques that need you to hold your breath for a long time. Also, avoid poses such as bellows breath or breath of fire that require rapid or quick belly movements.
  • Backbends require overstretching of the abdominal ligaments and must be completely skipped, especially during the second and third trimesters.
  • Yoga poses that involve transitions of the body, such as moving forward to backward or vice versa , should be avoided during the first trimester as it could affect the implantation of the embryo.
  • Full inversions include poses such as the shoulder-stand and headstand, in which the head is pointed downward. Such poses may cause nausea or dizziness in pregnant women. There is also a risk of falls and injuries.

Always consult your doctor before trying any poses. Also, seek the guidance of a trained yoga instructor.

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Yoga Tips For The First Trimester

  • Practice basic poses with a few modifications. Build strength and encourage flexibility with familiar poses, but make props available in case the student feels unbalanced or tired.
  • Avoid inversions, closed twists, and backbends. The student shouldnt do anything that might compress the uterus or overstretch the abdominal muscles.
  • Encourage a long relaxation at the end of class. This is a perfect time for the student to practice focused breathing and clearing the mind.
  • Remember, a pregnant woman is not sick or injured. Help her discover the strength and power in her body. While you need to modify some poses, she is still a strong, capable student and does not need to be fussed over constantly. Give her some options and let her do the practice in a way that feels good to her. She is the only one who really can feel what is going on in her body, and she needs to learn to trust her own instincts. With a little encouragement and a lot of practice, yoga will become a crucial tool for her birthing experience.
  • Brenda K. Plakans, mother of three-year-old Eamonn and six-month-old Alec, lives and teaches yoga in Beloit, Wisconsin. She also maintains the blog Grounding Thru the Sit Bones.

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    Abdominal Work In Pregnancy

    “Poses create unnecessary compression and restrict blood flow,” said Guvenc, explaining that, “They can exacerbate mechanical strains on the body and contribute to conditions such as diastasis recti, when the abdominal muscles split in pregnancy.”

    Poses to avoid in this category include:

    • Crunches
    • Planks

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    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

    Types Of Yoga Poses That Must Be Avoided During Pregnancy

    Yoga in Pregnancy

    Your body is working hard during pregnancy, and thus, it is not the time to push yourself to an extreme limit. The aim of yoga during pregnancy is to increase flexibility, relieve stress and work on your breathing. It is advised that you should practise yoga only as much as you can and if you feel like stopping or resting in between, listen to the signals of your body and take a break.

    It is strictly recommended that you should consult your doctor before practising any kind of yoga poses during pregnancy. Go through our recommendations of yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy, so you can cover these as well when you next consult your medical practitioner.

    The following yoga poses are a complete no-no during pregnancy:

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    Poses That Require Deep Stretching

    Like pretzel poses, deep stretches can hurt your joints, muscles, and ligaments if not done carefully.

    So, go easy on poses like Splits and Lizards.

    What You Can Do

    Try Half-Splits or, if you are more advanced, modify splits by using blocks and blankets. When it comes to Lizards, you can also incorporate props such as blocks or straps. They can help you remain more comfortable.

    Yoga Poses To Avoid When Pregnant In Third Trimester

    In your final trimester, your body and mind are in their delicate state. You might feel like doing absolutely anything to nothing. So, be extra careful during these 3 months.

    You are about to deliver at any moment and so be very very careful about all your activities. Another life is almost becoming full-fledged and you can actually feel that another life within you.

    This trimester is actually the most fascinating one. However, the problem arises when you want to do all those activities which you couldnt. This is the trimester when you want to lie down on your stomach and want to carry your body freely. Your weight becomes as much as twice.

    But do avoid twisting yoga poses and all the other poses mentioned above.

    Twisting Positions

    Actually, in this stage, you better avoid any yoga poses. Just relax and walk. Simply listening to good music, reading a good book, and taking a nature walk in your courtyard must be fine.

    You are at the most delicate stage of your physique and mind. Do take care of yourself with the same delicacy.

    Twisting Yoga Poses Include:

    • Parivrtta anjaneyasana

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