Prenatal Yoga: All You Ever Wanted to Know

    Updated 01 November 2022 |
    Published 09 December 2019
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Tanya Tantry, MD, Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Medical Consultant at Flo
    Flo Fact-Checking Standards

    Every piece of content at Flo Health adheres to the highest editorial standards for language, style, and medical accuracy. To learn what we do to deliver the best health and lifestyle insights to you, check out our content review principles.

    Yoga is a great way to stretch your body and strengthen your core when you’re pregnant. For pregnant women, yoga can help alleviate stress, relax their bodies and minds, and give them a sense of wellness and peace. Doing yoga during pregnancy is a good exercise for many women, as many of the poses are low impact but have lots of benefits. 

    If you are considering doing yoga while pregnant or are looking for yoga poses for pregnant women, read on. We’ve found some of the best prenatal yoga poses that you can try for yourself.

    Benefits of yoga for pregnant women

    There are many benefits to be gained from yoga:

    • Increased flexibility and circulation
    • Increased core strength
    • Improved respiration
    • Increased energy and vitality
    • Protection from injury
    • Improved cardio health

    Yoga helps the body stretch and relax, and focuses on breathing. Pregnant women can gain many benefits from doing yoga because their bodies need to stretch and relax even more. Here are some of the extra benefits that prenatal yoga gives to expectant mothers:

    There is a lot to gain by doing prenatal yoga poses, whether you’re doing it once a day or once a week. But your body changes quite drastically from the first trimester to the third, and it needs different things at different times. We’ve outlined the best pregnancy yoga poses for each trimester below. 

    Prenatal yoga step-by-step

    There are over 300 yoga positions that are commonly used today. Some of them are very difficult and can be dangerous for beginners. So make sure to consult with your doctor before doing yoga while pregnant.

    Prenatal yoga poses focus on supporting the parts of the body where there is the most pain and discomfort, such as the lower back and abdominal area. Yoga for pregnancy focuses on strengthening the pelvic muscles, legs, and core to help women prepare for labor and delivery. 

    Let your yoga teacher know you’re pregnant and where you are in your pregnancy. Specially trained pregnancy yoga teachers can accommodate pregnancies and often know many prenatal yoga poses and postures to help expectant mothers during their classes. 

    First trimester

    There are some do’s and don’ts to remember in the first trimester. 

    Yoga poses for pregnant people shouldn’t include twists, turns, or jumps during the first trimester. This prevents the body from moving into positions that could disrupt or interfere with the fertilized egg implanting on the uterine wall. 

    These standing poses are great for pregnant people in their first trimester:

    • Extended triangle pose
    • Extended side angle pose
    • Warrior I
    • Warrior II
    • Warrior III

    Balance positions should be done near a wall so you have a way to catch your balance if needed. These balances poses are suitable for people in their first trimester:

    • Tree pose
    • Eagle pose

    Hip openers and back stretches are great yoga poses for pregnant people. They help you become more flexible and stronger throughout your pregnancy. Those poses are:

    • Bound angle pose
    • Wide-angle seated forward bend
    • Reclining bound angle pose
    • Reclining big toe pose

    In your first trimester, your uterus is at its most fragile. The hormones in your body are already relaxing your joints, ligaments, and muscles. If you stretch too far, you can injure yourself. Listen to your body first and foremost. If it feels good, keep doing it. If you’re tired, rest. 

    Many people don’t want to do yoga while pregnant in their first trimester. They don’t feel as energized as they do in the later trimesters. Do what you feel capable of, and take it easy. 

    Second trimester

    In the second trimester of pregnancy, your belly starts to show, and there is more weight and pressure on the front of your torso and lower back. 

    People tend to be stronger and have more energy in the second trimester. They can continue to do the same yoga poses for pregnant women from the first trimester with some modifications. Try to add these poses to your routine during your second trimester:

    • Chair pose
    • Half-moon pose

    At this stage in your pregnancy, there’s a lot of pressure on your pelvic floor, so it should be supported while doing yoga. In poses like warrior II, sit in a chair to support the front of your thighs and take the pressure off your pelvic floor. This gives you the strengthening benefits of the pose while taking extra pressure off. 

    Breast tissue builds and swells during this trimester, adding strain to your back muscles. Add these poses to support your back and strengthen your core in the second trimester:

    • Cow face pose
    • Reverse prayer pose

    During this trimester it’s important to not lay flat on the backs for long periods of time. This is because the weight of the baby can put pressure on the vena cava, a major vein that runs from the lower back to the heart. Instead, add these hip openers and back stretches to your pregnancy yoga routine, modifying them with blankets or wedges: 

    • Reclining big toe pose
    • Reclining bound angle pose
    • Reclining hero pose

    This is the best trimester to introduce deep breathing exercises. It helps prepare you for the deep and heavy breathing you will need during labor and delivery. Try these breathing exercises:

    • Victorious breath
    • Alternate-nostril breathing

    Third trimester

    Your body has changed dramatically by the third trimester, and any yoga you do will need to support these changes. 

    People who do prenatal yoga poses in the third trimester need to focus on balancing the new weight of the kicking baby and relieve the pressure on the pelvic floor. You also need to focus on strengthening your legs and core muscles for delivery. 

    You may not be able to do many of the previous pregnancy yoga poses anymore, due to the limited mobility caused by your uterus, so try these poses below:

    • Extended triangle
    • Extended side angle
    • Hero I
    • Hero II
    • Tree pose

    Two hip-openers that are great for the third trimester are:

    • Bound angle pose
    • Seated wide-legged forward bend pose

    Cat pose is good to add during this trimester, as it helps the baby shift lower into the uterus and can encourage a good baby position for delivery. 

    Safety tips for prenatal yoga

    Yoga during pregnancy is a low-impact exercise, but there are still some safety tips that should be kept in mind:

    • Talk to your doctor about pregnancy yoga.
    • Avoid twists and jumps.
    • Pace yourself.
    • Stay hydrated.
    • Don’t overdo it.

    Your doctor knows your body and pregnancy. Let them know you want to try prenatal yoga. If you have any complications with your pregnancy, they may want to err on the side of caution and offer different types of exercises for you.

    The takeaway on doing yoga while pregnant

    Relaxation is key during prenatal yoga, as well as labor and delivery. 

    Many of the prenatal yoga poses we’ve outlined above can help pregnant women have a better sense of their bodies, practice deep breathing, and relax. Take yoga classes with other expectant mothers for a sense of community. Following the safety tips helps you avoid injury. Yoga can help you find peace and strength to safely move through your pregnancy to delivery.

    History of updates

    Current version (01 November 2022)

    Reviewed by Tanya Tantry, MD, Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Medical Consultant at Flo

    Published (09 December 2019)

    In this article

      Try Flo today

      Sign up for our newsletter

      Our latest articles and news straight to your inbox.

      Thanks for signing up

      We're testing right now so not collecting email addresses, but hoping to add this feature very soon.