prenatal + postnatal safety tips

Are you pregnant and looking to safely modify your yoga practice for pregnancy?

Or perhaps you had your baby a few months ago and want to make sure you

stay safe as you return to your yoga practice.

We’ve got you covered! Read on for our Yoga Mama tips.

Tips for Taking a Regular Vinyasa Class While Pregnant

  • “Belly-down” postures, like cobra, are okay until they are uncomfortable (usually mid-second trimester).

    • Tip: If belly-down is uncomfortable for you, come to table pose, take a puppy pose and/or child’s pose while everyone else is doing cobra or up dog, and then take down dog.

  • Keep backbends in the upper back, avoid deep backbends.

    • Tip: Instead of Wheel Pose, try a Bridge Pose (supported or not!)
       

  • When in doubt, use all the props! We love props, and they can absolutely improve your prenatal yoga experience. 

    • Tip: Poses where it’s fantastic to prop up your pregnant body for both alignment and comfort - Half Pigeon, Half Hanumanasana (half-split), Bridge, Legs up the wall, any balancing poses. Our prenatal classes are full of great recommendations for prop usage, and you can take those recommendations with you to other classes.
       

  • Yay for open twists, boo to closed/deep twists!

    • Any posture where you are closing off the torso to twist is a definite no-go during pregnancy; stick to open twists where you’re opening your torso away in the twist versus closing it off into another part of the body. For example, an open-armed twist in chair, versus a revolved crescent lunge. Anything where you are facing your tummy directly towards another body part is a no-go, especially in first trimester.

    • Tip: If a teacher is cueing a closed twist, maintain the posture without a twist, or try opening it to the other side instead.
       

  • Stay reclined, rather than flat on your back, especially later in pregnancy. If you lay on your back, the weight of your growing body can compress key veins. A reclined posture relieves this tension. Of course, if reclining fully still feels good for you: go for it.

    • Tip: Use a semi-reclined posture for Savasana, supported Legs up the wall, or Side-lying, using props to make your final relaxation ahhhh-mazing.
       

  • Tune IN to your body

    • Vinyasa yoga is a warming practice; it can create heat in both your body and the surrounding room. Avoid overheating by taking modifications, drinking water, or taking a brief break in the lobby. Overheating / dehydration can cause serious problems for mom and baby, as well as start labor before it’s time!

    • Listen to your body. As you progress further along in your pregnancy, your body will change and some poses / movements will start to become uncomfortable, and others may feel more accessible. While that may be frustrating, listen to what your body is telling you and ease up from any discomforts in your regular yoga practice!

  • Take options for core exercises.

    • Belly-up core is a known cause of diastatic recti, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be doing any core work at all! Try working on the deeper muscles in the transverse abdominus and obliques rather than your frontal core.​

    • Tip: if a teacher offers boat, or a similar belly-up exercise to work on core, take a plank or forearm plank instead. Or skip it altogether!

Tips for Returning to Yoga After Having a Baby

General Tips:
 

  • Please ensure that your doctor or midwife has approved you to return to physical activity. This usually happens at your 6-week postpartum appointment, but can take longer pending complications.
     

  • If possible, please have your provider check you for diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy). This is actually VERY common, and it’s good to know what degree of separation you may be working with as you return to yoga.

    • If you did not ask your provider to check you, please try to self-evaluate using the YouTube video here. If you find that you think your separation is 3- or 4-finger widths, then it’s advisable for you to see your provider or a physical therapist before coming back into yoga.
       

  • If you have pelvic floor dysfunction or pelvic organ prolapse, please 1) follow guidelines from your provider or physical therapist about returning to activity, and 2) inform your yoga teacher. Please note: we are NOT medical professionals and you should NOT use yoga as your only regimen to “fix” any of these issues.

 

Things to Keep in Mind When You Return to The Mat:
 

  • Start at the most foundational yoga class level, even if you had a rigorous practice before baby. There have been a lot of changes in your body, and starting off on a good foundation is the best way to ensure your body heals and grows stronger in safe and healthy ways.
     

  • While we do cue belly-down postures in our postnatal classes, we always have options. If these are uncomfortable for you, let us know! You may find discomfort:

    • 1) If you had a Cesarean birth, the area around your scar could be tender.

    • 2) If you are breastfeeding/pumping, it may be bothersome for your chest to be pressed up against the floor.
       

  • If you have some pelvic floor dysfunction or you still feel like you’re recovering in the pelvic area, you may find that Goddess and Malasana poses are uncomfortable and put a lot of pressure on your pelvic floor.

    • Tip: Use a block for support in Malasana, or take a star pose instead of sinking down into Goddess.

    • Tip: Pay extra attention to engaging your pelvic floor. We cue through this at the beginning of every postnatal class, but you can do "elevators" at home as well.​
       

  • Be mindful of Sun Salutations - the transitions from Plank to Chaturanga, and from Upward Facing Dog to Downward Facing Dog are incredibly core-challenging even when you haven’t had a baby! These transitions can become unsafe if you’re coming to practice with abdominal separation, or can even exacerbate the separation. You can move through Table pose in either of those transitions to minimize putting pressure on your abdominal wall.
     

  • The hormone relaxin that caused your joints to be relaxed and looser during pregnancy is still kicking around. So you can still expect any injuries prior to pregnancy, or any pregnancy aches and pains to continue for a while. You may have even exacerbated some during pregnancy!
     

  • Move deliberately, try to be really in-tune with your body and how it feels as you practice, especially if you had a consistent practice before or during pregnancy. Tuning in is both humbling in the sense of feeling like you can’t do yoga like you used to, but also the healthiest way for you to learn where your body feels challenged and where you need to focus your recovery efforts as you keep coming to class.