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The benefits of prenatal yoga

 Pregnant women sit cross-legged in a prenatal yoga class

If you're looking for healthy ways to exercise during your pregnancy, you might want to think about prenatal yoga. It stretches and strengthens your muscles, reduces stress and teaches you to how to control your breathing—all good things for moms-to-be. 

Plus, it's generally very safe for pregnant women. Just make sure your instructor is certified in prenatal yoga. That way you can feel confident he or she knows which poses are safe and which are not.

The benefits of prenatal yoga

After getting your doctor's OK, you can sign up for a class specifically tailored for women who are pregnant. Prenatal yoga gives you an opportunity to meet other pregnant women who understand what you're going through and can offer you emotional support in a way that your partner and other friends cannot. 

Also, the stretch-hold-relax nature of yoga, combined with its breathing techniques, can help reduce stress. Yet it's still a good workout.

Here are some additional benefits of prenatal yoga, courtesy of the American Pregnancy Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

  • Improved balance and flexibility.
  • Better sleep.
  • Less lower back pain.
  • Decreased nausea and headaches.
  • Reduced risk of premature labor.

A few caveats

If you can't find a prenatal yoga class in your area, a regular yoga class led by a prenatal-certified instructor should be OK. Just let the instructor know you're expecting. A few other things to keep in mind:

  • Stay away from Bikram and other specialty yoga classes that are taught under hot temperatures. 
  • Some poses aren't safe for pregnancy. These include lying flat on your back and poses that require abdominal stretching.
  • Limit your yoga exercising to about a half hour.
  • Don't take yoga if you are at risk for premature labor.

Red flags to watch for

No matter what kind of exercise you're doing, the college recommends you stop and call your doctor if any of the following occur:

  • Bleeding from your vagina.
  • Feeling dizzy or faint.
  • Shortness of breath before exercising.
  • Chest pain.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Calf pain or swelling.
  • Regular and painful uterine contractions.
  • Fluid leaking from the vagina.

For safety's sake, it's always best to get your doctor's OK before starting an exercise program during pregnancy.

More pregnancy news

There are many ways to get your exercise in when you're pregnant. Check out these exercise do's and don'ts

Sources: American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists; American Pregnancy Association

Reviewed 1/9/2024

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