Fitness

8 Prenatal Yoga Tips That Will Help You During Your Pregnancy

If you’re a yoga fan, switching your pre-pregnancy practice over to prenatal yoga can be tricky. While you’re looking for a routine that’s the right amount of challenge for you, you also want to make sure it’s safe for your changing body.

You might be tempted to stick with your regular yoga routine for as long as possible, but with a growing belly, certain moves (pretty much anything that involves lying on your stomach) quickly go out the window, leaving you in child’s pose while the rest of the class flows.

If you want to keep practicing yoga throughout your pregnancy, there are tons of prenatal-specific yoga classes to choose from. Sometimes, though, it takes a little trial and error to find the option that best suits you.

For many of us who live in the U.S., regular indoor yoga classes are not an option as the coronavirus pandemic continues. But you still have options, whether it’s an online class—Peloton has both pre- and postnatal classes, apps such as Obé have prenatal workouts, and YouTube is filled with free classes—or a socially-distanced outdoors one. Your favorite in-person class may be happening virtually now too.

Whichever way you choose to exercise, fitting in some movement during pregnancy can be a positive. In fact, once your health care professional gives you clearance to do so, exercise is a safe, healthy, encouraged part of pregnancy, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

“I think everyone should have a physical activity practice during pregnancy,” Chloe Zera, M.D., an ob-gyn at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston who also has a 200-hour yoga teaching certification, tells SELF. “It is good for your body, mind, and soul.”

We talked to ob-gyns and prenatal yoga instructors about what you need to know about practicing yoga during pregnancy—how to do so safely and how to make the most of your movement. Just remember to talk to your doctor before getting started so they can help you determine an individualized approach to what level of physical activity is right for you.

1. Use a talk test to gauge intensity.

The exercise guidelines for pregnancy from ACOG used to include a recommendation to keep your heart rate under 140 beats per minute. That was because, back then, there was a limited amount of research on exercise and pregnancy—and fear of risks to the parent and fetus. But in 1994, the group removed that suggestion. “There is a fair amount of variability in regards to what a normal heart rate is in pregnancy,” says Dr. Zera. For example, normal could be anything up to 100 beats per minute at rest. So it may not take much extra to hit 140, she says.

“Instead of checking heart rate, I tell patients to monitor their breathing,” Lisa Luther, M.D., an ob-gyn at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, tells SELF. During exercise, your breathing can be labored, but you should be able to have a conversation.

But while most experts suggest the talk test to monitor intensity, it’s worth noting that one review of research published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth concluded that even vigorous-intensity exercise in the third trimester appeared to be safe for most healthy pregnancies. (Of course, it depends on your baseline experience with higher-intensity exercise before your pregnancy too.)

Again, it’s always worth touching base with your doctor before working out. Then, let your body lead you in terms of what feels good and comfortable.

2. There are some moves you should skip at certain times in your pregnancy.

In general, you can continue most of the yoga poses you were practicing pre-pregnancy with some modifications, says Keya Nkonoki, a pregnancy yoga teacher and owner of MOMS AT OM Pregnancy Yoga Studio in Los Angeles.

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