Benefits of Prenatal Yoga for Body and Mind

Benefits of Prenatal Yoga for Body and Mind

If pregnancy has got you feeling less-than-zen by the end of the day, you may well benefit from some prenatal yoga.

Yoga is well-known as a gentle form of exercise for the body and mind, so it may come as no surprise that pregnancy and yoga can go hand in hand.

Yoga during pregnancy can be the perfect way for mamas-to-be to prep for childbirth, relieve their aches and pains, and calm their racing mind.

Need we say more?

Well, how about an expert round-up of all the pregnancy yoga benefits you need to know (and the moves to achieve them).

In this article: 📝

  • What is prenatal yoga?
  • Is yoga good for pregnancy?
  • When to start prenatal yoga?
  • How often should I do prenatal yoga?
  • Best prenatal yoga poses
  • Yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy
  • Best online prenatal yoga classes and videos

What is prenatal yoga?

There are many forms of yoga, but pregnancy yoga classes are often variations of a yin-vinyasa style flow.

The instructor will specifically tailor your movements to allow for your changing center of gravity (as your bump grows bigger), which will reduce the risk of falling and hurting yourself.

What do you do in prenatal yoga?

Prenatal yoga classes focus more on moves to help strengthen your core and pelvic floor (great for birth and postpartum recovery) and concentrate on calm, focused breathing—a technique that can help you through labor.

Prenatal yoga vs regular yoga: what’s the difference?

Prenatal yoga is not too dissimilar to regular yoga, but typically without poses that are upside-down for those in the second and third trimester.

In pregnancy yoga, there’s more of a focus on breathing and strengthening your back, core, and pelvic floor.

If you’re a newbie to the yoga scene, it’s best to look out for a specific pregnancy yoga class.

But if you’re a seasoned yogi, you might be able to continue with your regular class.

Just be sure to tell your instructor about your pregnancy and make the appropriate adjustments to your movements to suit your changing body.

Is yoga good for pregnancy?

Absolutely, and the prenatal yoga benefits go way beyond the physical.

Pregnancy is a tricky journey of navigating your changing body (and changing life!), so taking time out to connect with yourself is essential. Not only as an act of self-care but also to help you stay grounded no matter what changes come your way—and they will come!

By doing some prenatal yoga, you may also:

When to start prenatal yoga?

The good news is that you can start pretty much anytime.

Well… maybe when you’re already in labor is slightly too late, but other than that, you’re good to go!

Is it OK to do yoga in early pregnancy?

It’s recommended to speak to your doctor before starting any new exercise while pregnant, but for women with no other health complications, it should be safe to start practicing yoga any time in your pregnancy.

Thankfully, yoga is a gentle exercise, so it’s perfectly suited to most mamas-to-be in their first, second, or third trimester.

At any stage of pregnancy, poses that involve deep backbends, twisting, or laying flat on your back for extended periods should generally be avoided.

And make sure to use yoga pregnancy modifications like wedges, bolsters, and blankets to support you through the trickier moves.

How often should I do prenatal yoga?

It’s totally up to you.

It depends on your schedule—if you can do a little prenatal yoga every day, then do it.

If you can fit in pregnancy yoga just once or twice a week, that’s fine, too!

Best prenatal yoga poses

Just what is the best yoga for pregnant women? Here are a few favorites from our yoga community on Peanut:

  • Cat/cow pose: This is one of our favorite prenatal yoga stretches for back pain and sciatica. To do a cat/cow pose, get to your hands and knees (slowly, if you’re managing a big bump), and arch your back up and down.
  • Lotus pose: Prenatal meditation is perfect for morning prenatal yoga. Simply sit in a cross-legged position (or whatever’s comfortable), close your eyes, and focus on your breathing for as long as you want.
  • Downward dog: If you’re dealing with heartburn, you can modify downward dog by leaning on a wall to raise your head. A downward dog is done by leaning forward from a standing position to bring your hands flat to the floor (or the wall, if you’re modifying for a bump).
  • Warrior pose: Fantastic for strengthening your core and legs. Stand with one leg in front of the other, then turn your body to the side, also pivoting your back foot. Lean slightly forward and bring your arms up to your sides. Voilà ‒ you’re a warrior!
  • Childs pose: This pose stretches your shoulders, chest, and lower back, along with increasing the flexibility of your spine, hips, and thighs. Start on all fours with knees spread wide, sink your hips back onto your knees, and reach your arms in front of you. Feel free to place a cushion under your forehead for extra support!

Prenatal yoga (first trimester)

Early pregnancy yoga can help set you up for a more comfortable pregnancy, birth, and postpartum recovery:

  • Side-lying Savasana: This is one of the easiest first-trimester yoga poses to master—simply lie comfortably on your side, supporting your head, legs, and stomach (if you have a bump) with cushions.
  • Sun salutation: One of the most well-known. Stand with your feet together, bringing your hands in a prayer position to your chest, then raise them to the sky, arching your back slightly backward. Then, lean forward at the hips, reaching to the floor. Sweep the floor with your fingers, then swing back up to the starting position, and repeat!
  • Seated forward bend: A favorite of our mamas-to-be on Peanut. Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you (or slightly apart, whichever’s more comfortable), then hinge at the hips to lean forward and reach for your toes—if you can’t reach your toes, don’t fret, just lean as far forward as is comfortable.
  • Crocodile twist: Simply lie on your back, making sure your back is flat against the floor and not arched. Then, bring one leg to your chest, spread your arms wide to the side, and twist your back so your raised leg is resting with your knee on the floor.
  • Cobra pose: Here you are, yoga for morning sickness. Lie face-forward on the floor, with your hands palm-down on the floor by your chest, then push up so your back arches slightly. Keep your neck straight and look ahead—just make sure you don’t continue to do this pose after your first trimester, as it can strain your belly.

Prenatal yoga for second trimester

Welcome to the second trimester—home of swelling, cramps, heartburn, and backache.

If you’re feeling any of these, try one of these second trimester prenatal yoga poses:

  • Mountain pose: A pose that looks simple, but actually engages your core and balance. Stand with your feet slightly apart, bring your arms to your sides, and raise them a little, with your palms outstretched facing to the front. Focus on ‘rooting’ yourself to the floor, engaging your core.
  • Tree pose Another great yoga pose for balance. Stand on one leg (use a chair or wall for balance, if needed), bring your hands to your chest in a prayer position, and, again, root yourself into the floor.
  • Crescent pose: This second-trimester yoga pose is great for easing backache! To do a crescent pose, lunge forward as far as you’re comfortable with—to the floor, if you can—and lean up and back, raising your arms to the sky.
  • Eagle pose: This prenatal yoga pose is a little tricky, but also great for balance and building your core. Stand with your feet apart, bend your knees, lift your right foot, twist your right thigh over your left, then wrap your right foot behind your left calf. Raise your arms and twist them in front of you, raising them to the sky. Find your center and take some deep breaths.
  • Butterfly pose: For this pregnancy yoga pose, simply sit on the floor, bring the soles of your feet together, and let your knees fall as far as they can. Hold your feet with your hands, and lengthen your spine.

Prenatal yoga (third trimester)

The third trimester—baby’s nearly here!

As your bump grows bigger, it can be tough to know which prenatal yoga poses you can do safely.

Here’s some third trimester yoga that can help get you to the finish line:

  • Goddess pose: If you’re after yoga poses to induce labor, this is the one you’re after! It’s basically a deep squat, with your legs stretched to the sides.
  • Bridge pose: If you’re dealing with backache in the third trimester, this prenatal yoga pose can help ease your pain. Lie on the floor with your feet planted in the floor and your knees bent. Put your hands palm-down on the floor by your seat, then push up to raise your bottom to the air, lifting your bump and easing the pressure.
  • Chair pose: Another of our Peanut mamas’ top yoga positions to induce labor. The chair pose is similar to the goddess pose, but your legs are brought together for the squat, with your arms raised to the sky.
  • Cobblers pose: Similar to the butterfly pose, but your knees don’t touch the floor. It’s more yoga to induce labor!
  • Child’s pose: What better pose to help bring a baby into the world than the child’s pose? Stock up on pillows for this one, particularly if you’re looking after a big bump! Kneel on the floor with wide legs (to make room for your bump), then put some pillows in front of you. Lean forward onto the pillows and rest. You deserve it.

Yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy

Some yoga poses put too much of a strain on your pregnant body, and can cause harm to you or baby.

Here are some yoga moves to avoid when pregnant:

  • Crunches
  • Crow pose
  • Back arches that make you strain
  • Deep twist poses
  • Poses where you’re on your back for a long period of time
  • Balance poses in the third trimester unless you’re feeling confident with your balance

Can you do hot yoga when pregnant?

No, you shouldn’t do hot yoga during pregnancy.

Hot yoga when pregnant can cause harm to your baby if you overheat.

You’re body’s already under a lot of pressure right now, so adding to it isn’t a great idea.

Best online prenatal yoga classes and videos

Looking for pregnancy yoga classes to do at home?

Here are the top online pregnancy yoga classes as chosen by our mamas-to-be on Peanut:

1. Yoga with Adriene

Yoga with Adriene is renowned in the yoga community, and her prenatal yoga videos on YouTube are beloved by our mamas-to-be on Peanut.

Try Yoga with Adriene prenatal yoga

2. Shiva Rea

From 10-minute prenatal yoga videos to longer sessions, you’ll find whatever you feel like doing, whatever stage of pregnancy, with Shiva Rea Prenatal Yoga.

Try Shiva Rea Prenatal Yoga

3. Pregnancy and Postpartum TV

YouTube is a great place to find free yoga classes for pregnancy.

Plus, Pregnancy and Postpartum TV also cover other pregnancy fitness as well as nutrition, so you’re covered!

Try Pregnancy and Postpartum TV

4. Lucy Flow

Lucy Flow is a fantastic channel not only for prenatal yoga, but also fertility yoga and postpartum yoga, too.

Alongside prenatal yoga videos, you’ll also find discussions about hypnobirthing, birth plans, breastfeeding, and so much more!

Try Lucy Flow prenatal yoga

5. Glo

While Glo doesn’t have free virtual prenatal yoga classes, you can do a free trial and see how you get on with them.

Glo doesn’t just do yoga classes for pregnant women; they do pilates, meditation guides, and general yoga for beginners.

Try Glo prenatal yoga

As always, mama, listen to your body and move in a way that feels good to you.

Prenatal yoga can work wonders to help you reduce your pregnancy aches and pains, as well as potentially easing labor and the postpartum period.

If you’re not convinced about prenatal yoga, why not ask our mamas-to-be on Peanut?


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