If you practice yoga during pregnancy, you may have a shorter labour and be more likely to have a vaginal delivery, if that is what you want. Yoga can help you focus on your body and use your breath to stay calm, which may help you during labour.
If you are new to yoga, look for a pregnancy class. It is a good idea to let your instructor know that you have not done yoga before. They should be able to help you start off gently.
There are many styles of yoga but you may prefer one of the gentler, slower paced styles such as Hatha.
“I found pregnancy yoga videos online helpful. There was a video for every stage or niggle I was experiencing. I learnt the postures I found most helpful and repeated these throughout the day.”
If you did yoga before pregnancy
If you have been doing yoga for a while, it is fine to carry on during pregnancy.
Tell your yoga teacher that you are pregnant and check they have experience of teaching pregnant people. If they do not, they may be able to recommend another teacher.
Your teacher can show you how to change the postures to suit your stage of pregnancy. Stick to what you find comfortable and focus on improving your yoga technique while you are pregnant. Avoid any new or advanced postures.
Doing yoga safely
- Your centre of gravity will change during pregnancy so you are more likely to lose your balance. Move slowly and use support, such as a wall or a chair.
- Follow your teacher’s advice on which positions and exercises are suitable during pregnancy. For example, you may not be able to do positions that involve moving your legs apart if you have pelvic girdle pain (PGP)/symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD). If you have separated tummy muscles (diastasis recti), you should avoid postures that involve a lot of core strength, such as the plank.
- Keep cool ‒ avoid styles of yoga that involve heat, such as Bikram.
- Be careful not to overstretch or push yourself too hard. You are more at risk of injury during pregnancy because your body produces a hormone, called relaxin, which softens the tissue between your joints.
- Avoid lying on your back for long periods, especially after 16 weeks of pregnancy.
- Avoid jumping in and out of postures.
- Do not hold your breath – keep breathing deeply and evenly throughout the exercises.
- Stop if it hurts or you feel dizzy or out of breath.
Finding a pregnancy yoga class
You could ask your midwife or staff at your local fitness centre if they know of a pregnancy yoga class near you.
Yoga Alliance has a directory of yoga teachers, which lets you search for teachers who specialise in pregnancy yoga.
The NHS website has a pregnancy yoga video you can do at home.
Download and print your weekly pregnancy exercise goal plan