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Strong Yoga for Pregnant Women? What does out Shrink on the Mat have to say…

March 22, 2013

I have been doing ashtanga and vinyasa yoga regularly for the last 6 years and have recently fallen pregnant and started ante-natal yoga classes. I find it mentally very challenging as the classes are extremely slow and I miss my strong physical workout. Should I stick out the ante-natal classes or is it safe to return to my usual vinyasa class?


There are a number of reasons why sticking to an antenatal class is a good idea. Firstly it is an opportunity to meet other expectant moms and it’s a sure form of being a part of a support group of women on the same journey. Pregnancy is also a wonderful opportunity to slow down, and to enjoy a different pace. So you might like to ask yourself what is underneath the need to have a stronger class or to be faster in your yoga practice? A slower practice means more time and space to cultivate awareness of yourself, and your changing body.


Having said that, for those who are not in danger of any risk (discuss this with your doctor) and have been practicing stronger classes for some time, there is still the possibility of doing vinyasa, but of course with various modifications along the way. Always be sure to tell your yoga teacher that you are pregnant she/he can keep an extra special eye on you. As you move through the pregnancy there will be different things you can and cannot do. Always err on the side of caution. Make sure you know where your edge is, and that you are not being pushed by any competitive drive.


Your teacher should inform you of what you are able to do, but here are some guidelines. First trimester be sure to not get too warm (although you can regulate your temperature, your baby cannot). Drink lots of water and rest when you need to. Avoid breath retention or breath of fire. Ujjayi breath through the mouth will be cooler than through the nose. Avoid back bends or deep twists. (camel is a good one to keep though). In your second trimester you can attempt some of the backbends that you did before pregnancy. You will be more supple during this time but resist the temptation to overdo it as it is possible to overstretch here and end up nursing your ligaments. Remember to modify the vinyasas and also to avoid lying on your belly and modify the vinyasas. Cat-cow is a lovely pose to play with when you are pregnant. So is bound angle pose. As is of course child’s pose (with legs wide enough for that growing belly) If you are wanting to invert at this point, then make sure you have wall support so that you avoid in chance of falling. Also at this point you can start to do your Savasana lying on the left side with the support of some bolsters. In the final semester, at 34 weeks avoid inversions, and rather do some squatting.


This is a very special time for you, and of course the bonding and connection with your child can happen very deeply during your yoga time. It is for that reason that I would still recommend some slowness, some real nurturing of yourself, and establishing some kind of inner dialogue with the miracle growing inside of you. We have become a culture that encourages pushing and striving, however one of the best things you can do at this time is to learn to slow down and take care of yourself.


Linda 3Linda is a psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, mindfulness trainer and kundalini yoga teacher. She has been in private practice for the past 18 years. Linda teachers yoga classes at Gururamdas and at Hotdog Yoga in Cape Town. She can be contacted on or visit her website

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