Prenatal Yoga: The questions and answers

by Nicci Randall in Fitness

Are you or someone you know an expecting mama? Our Prenatal teacher, Shannan, is on the blog today with suggestions and answers to all the ums and ahs of practicing yoga while pregnant. Let’s dive right in, mamas!

What are the benefits of practicing yoga during pregnancy?  

Yoga is good for you anytime, but especially when pregnant! The asanas, or physical practice of yoga, increase flexibility, balance, and circulation. In class, we focus on postures that strengthen key muscle groups used for supporting mama’s growing belly and baby, birthing, and postpartum healing. We also incorporate meditation and pranayama (breathwork practice) to calm the nervous system and slow the thoughts down to refocus your energy on yourself and the baby.

Another, possibly unexpected benefit of prenatal yoga is a sense of community; Prenatal classes are a sanctuary of sisterhood and community. Practicing with other mamas can be a wonderful way to share what you are experiencing during your own pregnancy, and gain a support system.

Photo credit: Alyse Mason Brill

What poses are most beneficial during pregnancy and why?

Practicing specific poses can help relieve tension in the lower back, hips, neck, and can strengthen the upper back and shoulders. Here are some of my favorites:  


Downward facing Dog

Wide leg forward fold

Triangle Pose

Malasana – Yoga squat

Child’s pose

Legs up a wall (with a bolster under your tailbone or chest)


You could do these poses consecutively as a sequence at any time of day.  They will help you to stretch, increase blood circulation, and reconnect with your body and the baby.  

What poses should you avoid when you are pregnant? Does it depend on which trimester you are in?  

Always consult with your medical professional prior to starting yoga when pregnant.

As your body is growing and changing, it is key to tune into your intuition and move in a way that feels good and right for you. Listen to your body and not your ego – slow down when you’re tired, take breaks as needed, and make sure to hydrate throughout.

In the first trimester, (0 to 12 weeks) nauseous mamas might avoid quick paced yoga classes, and if the thought of moving is overwhelming, meditation and breathwork are perfect.  

In the second trimester, (13 to 27 weeks) or the honeymoon phase, energy and stamina return, your baby bump is in bloom and yoga may feel good again. As baby grows, avoid belly on the ground, backbends, or deep twisting postures.

In the third trimester (28-40+), your baby’s growth compromises space in your body, so look to poses that create space and leave inversions, backbends, and intense abdominal work for after pregnancy and postpartum yoga.

If someone is not pregnant, but planning on getting pregnant soon, should they come into prenatal?

Absolutely! I encourage all woman thinking about or planning a pregnancy to join a prenatal class. The class is a community of women sharing insights, questions, and wisdom. Come surround yourself with pregnancy pheromones, thoughts, and sisterhood. It is a perfect way to prepare your mind and body for your own pregnancy.

What happens in a typical prenatal class?  While each class is a little different, every class will have a variation of breathwork, physical postural practice, and meditation. Each sequence is adapted to fit the needs of the students in class. All levels are welcome and I always try to provide multiple options to allow each student to move in a way that is right for her.

Should I talk with my physician before taking prenatal yoga? Yes, definitely get the okay from your doctor or midwife before practicing.

Photo credit: Brooke Myers

Am I allowed to take “normal” yoga classes? What can I take from prenatal classes into “normal” yoga classes?  

In prenatal class, you will learn modifications that you can use in any class. Knowing which postures to avoid and how to modify can give you the tools to practice in any class that feels right for you. Always remember to listen to your body, take breaks, and drink lots of water.  

What kinds of non-yoga benefits do your students see?  Prenatal yoga classes offer community. It’s a place to spend time with other pregnant women who can share your experiences and concerns, validate aches, pains, and emotions, and be a support system. It is also a one-hour timeout from everything else you have going on dedicated to you and your baby, time you definitely deserve! 

Join Shannan for Prenatal Yoga every Sunday at 3 PM. Use your current class pass or sign up for the Prenatal Monthly Membership, which includes unlimited Prenatal Yoga and Active Restoration Classes. Sign up now!

See you on the mat, mamas!