prenatal yoga
Best Prenatal Yoga

Pregnancy is a time of excitement and change. Not all changes, though, are welcome. If you’re experiencing aches and pains related to your growing belly, prenatal yoga might help.

In a study published by Midwifery, 45 pregnant women took a 30-minute prenatal yoga class three times a week for 12 to 14 weeks. What were the results? These women experienced much less pregnancy-related discomforts than those in the control group. They were also more physically prepared for labor. What’s even more interesting is that these women had been sedentary for at least one year before the study.

It’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor or midwife before starting any new fitness routine. Once you get the go-ahead, check out this list of yoga classes you can do in the comfort of your own home.

Easy At-Home Exercise Routine for Pregnancy

1. ‘Prenatal Yoga Routine’

Tonia Clark leads actress Lara Dutta in “Prenatal Yoga Routine.” She explains that the “connection to a healthy birth is through relaxation.”

You’ll get a chance to take some deep breaths all while challenging your whole body in this sequence. There is a lot of what Tonia calls “moving meditations” throughout this video to keep you engaged.

Tonia’s instruction is thoughtful and direct. She encourages you to open yourself and “move like you’re moving with the ocean.”

Are you a beginner? Go at your own pace and listen to your body. You can always hold a stretch or take a short break if it feels better than moving.

2. Fightmaster Prenatal Yoga

Deep and compressive twisting should be avoided [in pregnancy]. Don't let yourself get overheated. Keep the feet hips-width apart when practicing standing or seated forward folds. Only practice inversions if you already had an inversion practice before becoming pregnant and always check with your doctor if you have any concerns.
Leslie Fightmaster, yoga instructor

Lesley Fightmaster at Fightmaster Yoga offers an awesome prenatal yoga class on her YouTube channel. You’ll start with a few stretches and twists in a seated position. From there, stand and go through some restorative flowing moves. Most of traditional yogic breathing is performed through the nose, but Lesley encourages pregnant women to breathe through their mouths to avoid overheating.

3. ‘Pregnancy Yoga: Episode 1’

In a healthy pregnancy, there aren’t any concerns for women to practice yoga. Prenatal yoga can offer a powerful support to a woman’s changing body at this incredible time by creating a balance of strength, flexibility, and space for the baby, whilst also the much needed mental and emotional support through tools such as breath practices, mudras, meditation and contemplation and affirmation work.
Katy Appleton, yoga instructor

Katy Appleton offers up a fantastic yoga series for pregnant women. In “Pregnancy Yoga: Episode 1,” you’ll make space for your baby through gentle stretching.

Do you plan to try this video? Have a yoga block handy. All positions are performed while seated, and the block elevates your hips to make room for your belly.

Katy encourages pregnant women to work with qualified prenatal yoga teachers to learn any modifications that might be necessary.

4. ‘Gentle Yoga’

Are you pressed for time? Here’s a prenatal yoga class you can complete in just 20 minutes. Jaime McIntyre begins this session in bound-angle pose with the outside edges of your feet touching. Eventually, you’ll work up to doing a pyramid pose to stretch your tired legs before finishing off with corpse pose. In later pregnancy, you can modify this position by switching from your back to your left side.

Jaime mentions that if you’ve had trouble with “conception, bleeding, or miscarriage, it may be wise to give your pregnancy some time to settle and begin [yoga] somewhere after the 16 week mark.”

5. ‘Kundalini Yoga’

If you’re looking to try something new, “Prenatal Kundalini Yoga” might be just the thing. You’ll start this hour-long session by chanting a mantra that means “I bow to that divine light within me and around me at all times and within all beings.”

After that, the poses progress to keep your spine health and posture in mind.

Kundalini practice is very much rooted in the mind, body, and breath connection. If you haven’t tried this style before, you will notice lots of movement and attention to your inner self.

6. ‘Prenatal Yoga Flow’

The benefits of prenatal yoga for women are to cultivate a mind-body connection prior to giving birth so that delivery may be easier. A well-conditioned body will respond to labor optimally.
Summer, yoga instructor

To really get moving, try this class with Summer Huntington at Clubbell Yoga. This video is more suited for experienced yogis familiar with a variety of poses. There are also no verbal instructions, so you may need to watch a few times to get the hang of the progression.

Summer modified her practice during pregnancy by limiting the number and depth of the twists she did. “Do not spend any time on the belly,” says Summer. “Monitor body temperature closely to avoid overheating.”

7. ‘Gift of Life’

In order enjoy a safe yoga practice a pregnant woman should focus more on alignment and less on flexibility. [Because of] the release of "relaxin," the hormone that boosts elasticity, pregnant women are more prone to injury.
Antonia, yoga instructor

If you’re still in your first trimester, you can try the “Gift of Life” routine. You’ll do a series of standing poses, along with hip hinges, supported lunges, groin openers, and lots of deep breathing. The goal of these moves is to keep hormones stable to benefit your entire endocrine system.

Antonia reminds pregnant women not to push themselves in their practice. “Pregnancy is a time of inner maturation, and practice should be gentle and rewarding,” she says. “Every trimester is both challenging and wondrous, so practicing the art of acceptance and allowing are the keys to enjoying every moment of this bliss.”

8. ‘5 Poses for All Trimesters’

Adriene at Yoga with Adriene gives you poses to “connect to your body, connect to your baby, and, most importantly, connect to your breath.”

You’ll start in a seated position and do a series of twists that will help open your chest. Next, you’ll come onto your hands and knees for cat-cow pose, extended child’s pose, goddess, and finish with more seated stretches.

These poses are gentle and safe to perform at any point during your pregnancy.

9. ‘30 Minute Intermediate & Advanced Prenatal Yoga’

If you are newer to yoga, stick with a gentler practice and seek out an instructor who has the knowledge of how to guide you safely during your practice. It’s important to remind yourself that postures that are normally accessible to you might need to be avoided or supported differently during pregnancy. I tell my students to avoid deep backbends, such as wheel and other postures that encourage deep twisting and pressure on the belly. Yoga offers a unique way to challenge and adapt to your growing belly and shifting center of balance. That being said, it is up to you to know your limit.
Tamara, yoga instructor

Tamara Buschel’s class is for the intermediate or advanced yogi. You’ll not only stretch and lengthen your body, but you’ll also work up a great sweat doing it. Make sure to take some water breaks during this session to stay hydrated.

The warrior poses in the middle of the video will surely get your leg muscles working without the same impact as running or other sports.

10. ‘Calm the Mind and Strengthen the Body’

It is important to note that not all yoga is the same. The safest place is in a class designed for pregnancy (prenatal yoga) and with a certified prenatal yoga teacher (designated by CPYT or RPYT). Yoga guides a pregnant woman to listen to her body and to do what is best for her and her baby. If she is tired, then she can rest, or if she is energized, then she can challenge herself.
Katie Sheldon, co-founder of Be the Change Yoga

Women of all backgrounds can try this short and sweet 20-minute class taught by guest instructor and doula Lauren Horn. You’ll never look at the tabletop position the same way again. Lauren calls this restorative pose the “baby hammock.”

11. ‘All Levels Third Trimester Prenatal Yoga’

Ladies nearing their due dates will love Rachel Breeding’s class. Rachel starts off with breathing exercises, explaining that they “cultivate concentration and mental focus. They can also help to calm you and to actually slow your heart rate and produce a relaxing effect in your body.”

Before you begin, Rachel encourages you to grab a few blankets and yoga blocks for added support in certain poses. If you don’t have blocks, she suggests using books or anything else that’s around the same size and stable.

12. ‘Yoga for the Second Trimester’

Prenatal Yoga is generally an excellent choice during pregnancy. DVDs are a great home resource, but should only compliment a real life class with the guidance of a qualified instructor. Avoid deep twists and anything that puts strain or pressure on the abdomen area. For example, avoid laying on your tummy, performing twists, backbends, sit-ups, or deep diaphragmatic breathing. Stay hydrated and simply enjoy bonding with your baby using gentle breathing, therapeutic postures, and relaxation techniques.
Cathy Underwood, yoga instructor

Cathy Underwood with Yoga 4 Mums leads this fun video. Many of the poses will look familiar to you, so it’s suitable for beginners and experienced yogis alike. You’ll get the chance to do some core stabilizing moves to build strength without compressing your belly in the process.

Cathy says women should tell their instructors about any medical conditions or complications that might necessitate modifications.

13. ‘Pregnancy Yoga’

Uma Dinsmore-Tuli leads this routine that takes just 10 minutes to complete. Starting off with cat pose, with your knees atop a blanket or towel, you’ll work on a variety of moves to promote good posture. This video is unique because it also gives you some standing exercises to do against a wall.

Like this yoga quickie? It’s part two in a series of three videos. Uma suggests that women who are new to yoga try just 10 to 15 minutes a day to start. When you’re more comfortable, treat yourself to the full sequence. You’ll see women at all stages of pregnancy doing the moves with modifications that help make everything safe.

14. ‘Prenatal Yoga 1’

The most important thing a woman can do to keep herself safe during yoga is to listen to her body. Practicing yoga during pregnancy is all about creating the healthiest environment both physically and emotionally for your baby. You are your baby's environment.
Liza Janda, yoga instructor

Liza Janda with Yoga Download provides this solid class that will take less than 30 minutes of your time. Liza explains that she likes to “begin with gentle stretches, and warmups, followed by Vinyasa flows and poses that align both uterus and baby, relieve back pain, strengthen, and stretch.”

Overall, “you will work hard,” she says. “Labor is an athletic event you must train and prepare for.”

Healthy Body, Easier Labor

The research is stacked in favor of yoga during pregnancy. In a study published by The Journal of Perinatal Education, researchers examined the effect of yoga on labor. They found that women who regularly engaged in yoga sessions experienced shorter, less painful labors. There are no guarantees, but it couldn’t hurt to strike a few poses.

Best to you throughout the rest of your pregnancy and your yoga practice.