Practicing yoga during the first trimester allows you to carve out valuable time for yourself that you can use to get in touch with your body and emotions. You may also end up exploring the more subtle aspects of yoga relating to topics such as the chakras, meditation, or yoga nidra.
A solid yoga routine can provide physical and mental benefits that may help you navigate your pregnancy and the road beyond.
There are prenatal yoga guidelines specific to each trimester. This article will guide you through yoga poses to practice and avoid during the first trimester. You’ll also learn more about the benefits of prenatal yoga and tips for practicing safely.
It’s safe to practice yoga during the first trimester as long as you follow the safety precautions, modify as needed, and stay away from certain poses altogether.
While it’s usually OK to do most yoga poses, called asanas in Sanskrit, cultivating a less-is-more attitude is preferable to pushing yourself beyond your limits.
For the most part, you can likely keep up with your usual yoga practice or fitness routine in the first trimester. However, you may need to adjust your practice slightly and make modifications.
For example, when doing twists, choose open twists that don’t compress your belly, and twist at the level of your shoulders or upper back instead of from the base of your spine.
Instead of allowing your head to drop down during forward bends, hold your head up with your hands or props such as cushions or blocks.
During the first trimester, avoid:
- intense backbends, twists, and forward bends
- poses that involve forceful contractions or engagement of your abdominals
- poses that put lots of pressure on your belly
- inversions (unless you are highly experienced or are working closely with a qualified yoga instructor)
During the first trimester, do yoga poses that release tension, improve flexibility, and build strength. Focusing on poses that help you feel more calm, centered, and grounded may be helpful as you move through the changes of pregnancy.
Here are a few asanas that are safe to do during the first trimester.
Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
This classic balancing pose helps build awareness of and improve alignment, posture, and balance. It builds strength in your back, core, and legs.
- Do this pose near a wall, table, or chair for support.
- Experiment with your balance by closing your eyes partway or slowly turning your gaze toward the ceiling.
- Avoid pressing your foot into your knee.
- From standing, shift your weight onto your left foot and lift your right foot.
- Place your right foot on the inside of your left ankle, lower leg, or thigh.
- Raise your arms overhead or push your palms together at your heart center.
- Gaze at a fixed point straight ahead.
- Stay in this position for up to 1 minute.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
Malasana (Garland Pose or Squat)
Malasana strengthens and stretches your hips and pelvic floor muscles. It helps elongate your spine and improves digestion.
- Do not do this pose if you are prone to prolapse.
- Place a block or cushion under your hips for support.
- Place a folded blanket or mat under your heels for support.
- Do this pose next to a wall or chair for balance.
- Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart.
- Turn your toes to the sides at a slight angle.
- Raise your heels or place them on the floor.
- Slowly lower your hips to come into a squat position.
- Push your palms together at your heart center.
- Push your elbows into your knees.
- Remain in this pose for up to 1 minute.
Lunges help elongate your spine, stretch your hips, and lengthen your thigh muscles. They also help improve alignment, balance, and posture.
- To reduce the intensity, lower the knee of your back leg and place your hands on either side of your front foot.
- Experiment with arm positions by interlacing your fingers behind your back or extending your arms out to the sides.
- You can also press your palms together in prayer position in front of your chest or behind your back.
- Stand in a high lunge position with your right leg forward and your left leg back.
- Keep your back heel lifted, your back leg straight, and your hips facing forward.
- Extend your arms overhead with your palms facing inward.
- Gaze straight ahead or up toward the ceiling.
- Remain in this pose for up to 1 minute.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
Supported Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
This forward bend improves digestion, promotes relaxation, and helps you turn your attention inward.
- Sit on the edge of a cushion or folded blanket.
- For support, place cushions underneath your knees.
- Stack blocks and cushions to support your chest and forehead.
- Sit with your legs extended in front of you.
- Maintain a slight bend in your knees.
- Extend your arms overhead and elongate your spine.
- Slowly fold forward, placing your hands on your legs, your feet, or the floor.
- Stay in this pose for up to 1 minute.
Supported Supta Baddha Konasana (Supported Reclined Bound Angle Pose)
This hip opener stretches your abdominals, pelvis, and inner thighs. It has a calming effect that helps alleviate tension and stress.
- For support, place blocks or cushions under your thighs or knees.
- Use an eye mask to relax more deeply.
- To reduce the intensity, move your feet farther away from your hips.
- From a seated position, bend your knees and press the soles of your feet together.
- Make an incline support using blocks and cushions, if that’s more comfortable than lying flat.
- Gently lie back, placing your arms in any comfortable position.
- Stay in this pose for up to 5 minutes.
First trimester yoga offers several physical and mental benefits.
Physically, yoga asanas build strength, improve flexibility, and release tension. They may help reduce headaches, alleviate morning sickness, and improve digestion (
Yoga also has a positive effect on circulation, swelling, and inflammation (
Through your prenatal yoga practice, you may gain a deeper awareness of your alignment and movement patterns as you improve your overall posture, balance, and stability. This may help you adapt to the physical changes of pregnancy and your shifting center of gravity.
Yoga can help boost your energy levels while simultaneously teaching you to relax, which promotes a sense of calm and ease. It can also help improve sleep patterns and relieve anxiety and stress (
Practicing prenatal yoga can also help you prepare for birth by strengthening your pelvic muscles and improving your mental outlook. According to research, prenatal yoga may be effective in reducing labor pain and improving birth outcomes (
Other studies suggest that prenatal yoga may help alleviate fears related to childbirth and improve childbirth confidence (
Make sure you feel comfortable, supported, and at ease while practicing first trimester yoga. Along with prenatal yoga classes, you can do slow, gentle types of yoga such as Hatha, restorative, or Yin. Avoid hot yoga classes and getting overheated.
If you are taking classes online, look for a teacher who provides a contact option in case you want to ask questions, request feedback, or gain a deeper insight into your yoga routine.
Create a balanced yoga routine that includes yoga poses, meditation, and breath awareness. Listen to your body and make sure you can breathe comfortably in each asana. Avoid any type of forceful or retained breathing.
If an asana doesn’t feel right or causes discomfort, modify or replace it. You can use blocks, cushions, and straps for additional support and comfort.
Avoid pushing yourself too hard, and hold back slightly from your limit or edge.
On days when you’re too tired for a physical yoga practice, experiment with mantras, hand mudras, or yoga nidra. You may learn to develop a peaceful inner awareness and recall this stillness when life inevitably gives you challenges.
Talk with your doctor before starting a prenatal yoga routine, especially if you take medications or have medical concerns, including pregnancy complications.
Stop practicing yoga and call your obstetrician if you have (6):
- lightheadedness or dizziness
- unusual vaginal discharge, spotting, or bleeding
- chest, abdominal, or pelvic pain
- shortness of breath before exercise
- muscle weakness
If you’re just starting your yoga journey, cultivate a wide-eyed beginner’s mindset and enjoy the process. Go slowly as you learn poses, breathing techniques, and relaxation practices. You can stay motivated to develop your yoga practice without putting pressure on yourself.
Relax, take it easy, and have fun. Learn more about the elements of yoga that you find most interesting or rewarding and allow your practice to grow from there.
During the first trimester, you can safely practice yoga and enjoy its numerous physical and mental benefits. You may learn to get in touch with and balance your emotions.
If possible, seek out a skilled prenatal yoga teacher who can ensure you are practicing safely. Taking classes in a studio may provide you with a sense of community and help you meet people on a similar journey.
Most of all, stay patient and appreciative of your changing body and all it’s capable of.