Yoga During Pregnancy

Before I found out I was pregnant, I was teaching 4 yoga classes a week. Two of them were gym yoga–similar to Core Power classes. Core Power isn’t my favorite kind of yoga; I really think it’s just another exercise class, but it pays better than slower classes that focus on alignment or the yamas or niyamas. I guess that makes me a sell out, but a girl’s gotta pay bills!

Anyway, it’s been a little frustrating for me to keep up my practice at a time when I most need it. I’m a registered yoga teacher. I’ve taken workshop after workshop beyond my 200 hour training. I know the basic no-no’s of prenatal yoga:

1. No poses on the belly (like bow pose)

2. No deep twists. Technically, Bharadvajasana is the only safe twist. I’ll post a picture later.

3. After the first trimester, no laying flat on the back.

4. In the third trimester, if the baby is breech, no deep squats.

5. Balance changes during pregnancy, be mindful of this & do not go into poses as deeply, or practice near a wall.

6. Because joints are more mobile, no deep bending. Go 80% of your range.

7. No deep back bends.

I practice at home about 3 times a week, but my home practice is not as fulfilling as going to a class. I get distracted by things I need to clean. I’ll be in downward dog and notice I should vacuum under the bed, or dust the ceiling fan. At a studio, I can really tune into my body and my growing baby with much more presence of mind and body than at home.

That said, prenatal yoga classes are freaking expensive. In the Denver area, a drop in fee is $17-20 for a class (and there are not a plethora of options, even in yoga conscious Colorado). I know, I know–a girl’s (or guy, if there are any male prenatal yoga teachers) gotta pay studio rent and bills, etc.

So, just in case you are planning to be a stay at home mom & are on a budget like me, or you live in a rural area without any prenatal class offerings, I’ve decided to post some of my favorite life saving poses here. Please excuse this group, our camera isn’t working, and these were taken on my husband’s iPhone.

HIP OPENERS. For any of you fellow mamas who have low back, sciatica, and or hip pain.

fire log 1Agnistambhasana. Fire Log pose. Keep both feel flexed to prevent knee injuries. Make sure your bottom foot is not tucked under you or by your butt. Your heel should be directly under your top knee (even if there is a HUGE gap of air in between your knee and foot like the picture above). If your knee touches your heel, you have super flexible hips, now lean forward & work on bringing your sternum to your stacked shins. If your knee is nearer to your ceiling, sit up as tall as you can, and gently lean forward without slouching. Breathe, even though you feel like crying or cursing. Breathe some more. Hold this pose until it doesn’t hurt like hell.

& The Counter Pose  with modifications that I wish someone would teach in a prenatal class. It’s amazing.

Bound Angle Pose

BaddhaKonasana. Bound Angle pose. Or Butterfly pose. I’m sure you’ve all done this one before. A few pointers–do this with your back against a wall. Bring the soles of your feet as close to your butt as possible, and keep the feet pressing together. Relax. And make sure you have a block next to you (note the blue block in the picture). You’ll need it for this amazing modification:

OuchPut the block at the skinniest level between your feet. Try not to let your heels come out toward the middle of the room. Keep your heels tucked in as close to you & the wall behind you as they will possibly go. This will hurt MUCH more than plain butterfly pose. Just breathe through it until it doesn’t hurt as much or for at least 3 minutes. And then…..

Don't CryActually, there is a step in between this and the last pose. This is the farthest the block can make your feet come apart. You can gradually increase with the middle step, but I had an impatient husband who needed to get to work. Anyway, again, keep your heels in as close to you as possible. Press your feet into the block and try to relax. When it stops hurting as much, or when your 3 minute minimum time limit has passed, remove the block and go right back to plain old bound angle/butterfly pose.

It will feel like heaven. I promise.

With Love from Colorado,


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