8 Yoga Poses to Avoid During Pregnancy

By Willow Breckenridge | Jan 20, 2021

If you live to do yoga, you know all about the various health benefits. There’s no doubt the practice improves you mentally and physically, but you need to take additional precautions when you have a baby on board. 

You can still hit the mat — but you must avoid moves that put pressure on your abdominal area or any of the blood vessels nourishing your unborn. Please avoid the following eight yoga poses during pregnancy to avoid unwanted complications. 

1. Supine Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana)

If you have lower back pain, you might instinctively look to supine twists for relief. However, it’s better to perform this move seated in a chair while you’re pregnant. 

Supine poses can compress the inferior vena cava, one of the primary blood vessels supplying your infant with nutrients. Plus, the twisting motion can exert excess pressure on your womb. 

2. Half-Seated Twists (Marichyasana A through D)

Ashtanga yoga practitioners know that the marichyasana series is fabulous for releasing spinal tension, but you should avoid these moves during pregnancy. While you can do some twists — don’t dismay if you live to crack your back — you should avoid closed versions that use binding to deepen the move. 

Your internal organs benefit from a little twisting, but your child’s are undeveloped. Twists can strain your abdominal muscles, and, worse, cut off blood flow to your little one. 

3. Supine Head to Toe (Utthita Supta Padangusthasana) 

It’s pretty apparent why you can’t bend over and touch your toes while pregnant. However, you aren’t any better off lying on your back and bringing them to you. 

Again, any supine movements can potentially interrupt your baby’s blood flow. You probably won’t like the standing version any better as your center of gravity shifts, so give it a pass for now. 

4. Plow Pose (Halasana)

One risk of plow pose is suffocation. It sounds funny, but even if you could get your legs over your head at eight months along, your bump would smoosh your nose. 

To stretch your back, stick to a cat-cow pose while expecting. You want to avoid moves that cause you to fold along the midline, potentially cutting off blood flow. 

5. Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana) 

Wheel is already a challenging pose for many, but it’s a no-no for pregnant mamas. The slight inversion can create issues once your center of gravity shifts. 

Plus, you won’t bend very readily in your thoracic spine if you are like most. As a result, you may hyperextend your lumbar spine to compensate. You could easily get injured trying to hoist your baby bump to the rainbow’s bend. 

6. Locust (Salabhasana)

You should avoid any poses that cause you to lie on your belly — it puts pressure on your abdomen. You risk putting unnecessary compression on a developing infant who might only be the size of a pea — and as easily crushed.

Remove locust pose from your repertoire. Later in pregnancy, you won’t be able to lie on your belly at all, so use this time to adjust if you typically sleep in this position. 

7. Seated Forward Fold 

Be honest — if someone told you to touch your toes at week 36, you’d laugh in their face. Sitting down doesn’t make the move any more practical. 

However, you do have a modification you can practice while sitting. Spread your legs as if you were going into upavistha konasana — or straddle stretch. You can gently flow from side to side or lean slightly ever so slightly, taking care not to put pressure on your bump. 

8. Standing Forward Fold 

Standing forward folds are another move to avoid — once you get big enough, they become biomechanically impossible. However, here as with seated folds, you have an option. Take your legs wide into a standing straddle and place your hands on your thighs as if performing a standing cat-cow.

Although previously mentioned, keep in mind that your center of gravity shifts during pregnancy. If you find it too challenging to fall forward into gravity’s embrace, stick with a seated version for now.  

9. Inversions

You should avoid any movements where you could fall and potentially injure your unborn. It’s okay to do headstands and handstands during the first trimester only if you feel confident and have a reliable spotter for help. 

Once your center of gravity starts to shift, you’ll find it trickier to keep your balance. When this wobbliness occurs, you know it’s time to retire inversions until after giving birth. 

Avoid These 9 Yoga Poses During Pregnancy

Yoga offers a host of health benefits. However, you should avoid the nine moves above while expecting to avoid unwanted complications. 

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