Can You Do Hot Yoga While Pregnant?
Any doctor will tell you to maintain a healthy lifestyle when pregnant — eating to nourish both you and your baby, exercising, getting rest, etc. But, while some women experience mild symptoms during their pregnancies, others simply don’t adapt well to the hormonal changes.
That was me — I did not adapt well. And the idea of exercising felt pretty far-fetched during those 9-month periods when I was pregnant. I was exhausted from work and from the baby growing inside of me. I constantly felt nauseated, and my brain wandered in a permanent fog. I turned to comfort food like French fries and chips … and my active lifestyle disappeared. I felt like I was losing the piece of myself that cared about how I looked and how I treated my body.
When you’re pregnant, the need to feel like yourself again is strong. It’s particularly difficult for active women who may find new restrictions on what they can do during pregnancy. I love yoga. I love hot yoga. And I found myself wondering while carrying my first child: Can you do hot yoga while pregnant?
I can only assume that I’m not alone in asking that question. So here’s the answer, as well as some other thoughts on doing yoga while pregnant.
The Benefits of Yoga During Pregnancy
Each time I was carrying a baby, despite the barriers, I wanted to continue to exercise because I knew how important it was for me and my baby. I would run, but there would come a time when I simply couldn’t run anymore because of the discomfort. But, when running and other activities let me down, yoga was there to pick me back up again.
Yoga offers so many benefits, both if you’re pregnant and if you’re not. Some of the most common benefits are:
- Realignment: A fetus can change a woman’s hormonal balance. Yoga restores it.
- Relaxation: Pregnancy can make the body ache. Yoga helps to relieve tension and help expecting mothers to relax.
- Stamina: Labor can last for hours and hours and hours on end. Yoga helps you build up stamina and energy for the big day.
- Calm: Pregnancy is also filled with a lot of anxiety. Yoga helps calm the nerves and alleviate those jitters.
- Circulation: A fetus applies pressure throughout the body, and your internal organs can start to restrict circulation. Yoga helps increase blood flow to areas in your body that need it.
- Breathing: Yoga brings calm, relaxation and discipline to your breathing, which is good for you and your baby, both while pregnant and while you’re in labor.
Most yoga instructors want to know if you’re pregnant before a class starts. Why? So that they can offer some slight modifications along the way. A number of factors will effect how much you can do during a yoga class while pregnant, including:
- Your experience: How long have you been practicing yoga?
- Your routine: What was your regular exercise regime like before pregnancy?
- Your due date: Which trimester are you in?
- Your doctor: Have you spoken to a medical professional about exercising during pregnancy?
Modifications Within the Practice of Yoga
I continued yoga throughout my two pregnancies. But I also made sure to modify the poses according to how I felt and according to the instructor’s guidance. According to babycenter.com and the mayoclinic.org, there are some key poses that pregnant women should avoid due to the stress it puts on sensitive parts of the body.
- Backbends: camel, bow, and bridge, to name a few.
- Twist poses: reclined twist or reversed triangle should be avoided. A pregnant woman should twist toward the body rather than away from it.
- Advanced inversion poses: headstands or handstands should be avoided.
- Intermediate inversion poses: while poses such as downward dog and standing forward bend are still safe, if at any moment you feel dizzy or faint you should come down to a seated position or child’s pose.
Keep in mind that some poses that can help alleviate the constant discomfort that many women face during their pregnancy. Poses that offer gentle back stretching and that help increase blood flow into the legs are perfectly acceptable and even recommended through all trimesters.
Can You Do Hot Yoga While Pregnant?
Hot yoga, also known as Bikram yoga, involves the heating of a studio anywhere from 90 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Essentially, it feels like walking into an oven, or from an air-conditioned mall out into a humid summer day; which, for a pregnant lady, can feel like torture.
I love all different styles of yoga, but I chose to pass on hot yoga while pregnant. The idea of sweating even more than I already was, plus the way the heat accentuated my nausea, convinced me to stick to more traditional yoga classes.
But, beyond comfort, is hot yoga safe for pregnant women? Actual studies on the topic of hot yoga and pregnancy are limited and often outdated, but there are some common sense reasons to pass on hot yoga while pregnant:
- Hot yoga is more rigorous than regular yoga.
- When your body gets overheated, you can cool down at the end of the class during Savasana. But the baby inside of you does not cool down the same way.
- A pregnant woman has a higher risk of developing hyperthermia when exposed to excessive heat.
- If pregnant women are advised to avoid hot tubs, perhaps the same should apply to hot yoga.
Final Thoughts on Doing Hot Yoga While Pregnant
The best advice I can give to you is to talk with your doctor before you consider any form of exercise while pregnant — but especially hot yoga. Although you may be disappointed in what the doctor recommends, I promise you there are other forms of exercise and even other forms of yoga that are perfectly acceptable.
Prenatal yoga classes were created especially for pregnant women for a reason; the poses are modified for your special situation. You still enjoy the many benefits of yoga that your body most likely craves, even with adjustments to your poses. If you’re still unsure, you can find more information on yoga and pregnancy here.
Have you had an experience with hot yoga during pregnancy, good or bad? If so, let us know in the comments section below. With questions or anything else, use our contact page to send us a message directly.