Yoga for Pregnancy. Prenatal Yoga Poses.

According to teachers, medical professionals and students say that prenatal yoga can ease the discomforts of pregnancy, such as moodiness, shortness of breath, and swollen ankles; can give women time to bond with their babies; and can help them prepare for the rigors and mysteries of labor.

Bond with your unborn baby and prepare for labor.

Class is a place where information is exchanged and questions answered, so it's important that the teacher be trained in prenatal yoga—and it's even better if she's been through the experience of childbirth. Prenatal yoga is a great way to train for labor and to enhance the experience of pregnancy, explains Gallagher, whose daughter, Ruby, is 3. "Labor is one of the most physical things you'll ever do," she explains. "You would not run a marathon without preparation: Why would you go into labor without preparing for it?" asanas, the physical poses, can help build strength and stamina and improve circulation. Meditation can improve the abilities to relax and to concentrate. pPranayama, breathing exercises, can help manage the pain of contractions.


Standing postures, like Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose), can increase your leg strength and also generate courage and self-confidence. Kneeling on hands and knees and rounding the back up toward the ceiling can help a woman rehearse tilting her pelvis to facilitate the baby's delivery. 

What to expect

Experts agree on some general rules for practicing yoga during pregnancy:

If you have never practiced yoga or have practiced very little before your pregnancy, you should practice only prenatal yoga while pregnant.

If you already had a strong yoga practice before your pregnancy, you may be able to continue a fairly vigorous practice-with modifications-after your first trimester.

During the first trimester both beginning and experienced yogis should only do a gentle practice or none at all, as the fetus is still implanting and the risk of miscarriage is highest.

Shari Barkin, M.D., a pediatrician with Wake Forest University Health Services/ Brenner Children's Hospital in Winston-Salem, who practiced yoga during her two pregnancies, cautions against starting "any new kinds of strenuous activities during pregnancy. However do spend at least 10 minutes a day doing Ujjayi breathing (Victorious Breath). Do some hip openers, forward folds, and Cat-Cow poses," she says. "If you are used to doing yoga, then keeping up your regular routine with modifications is important."