When to Start Prenatal Yoga in the First Trimester

Two women sit on the floor in a prenatal yoga class
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The first three months of pregnancy are a time of major changes in your body. Long before any outward manifestation begins to get in the way of doing poses, things feel different on the inside. This is the challenge of first-trimester yoga. But this is also the challenge that is at the core of any yoga practice: listening to your body. You may think you know yourself and what your body can do, but on any given day you have to really tune in and respect the cues your body gives you. Taking the attitude that your body knows best and will guide you is also a great way to prepare for childbirth. Plus, studies have shown that yoga can provide a variety of benefits during pregnancy, including lowered stress levels and improved automatic nervous system function.

Make sure to discuss your plans to do yoga with your prenatal health-care provider before getting started, and learn prenatal yoga dos and don'ts for general advice.

Starting Yoga During Your First Trimester

  • Morning Sickness: If you are experiencing nausea in the first trimester, this is your body telling you to take it easy. If you have been attending yoga class regularly, give yourself permission to miss classes or take a less vigorous class if you don't feel well.
  • Going Public: You may not feel comfortable discussing your pregnancy with many people in the first trimester. But it is important to tell any yoga teacher that you are pregnant so they can assist you with modifications. Ask the teacher to be discreet if you are not yet ready to go public.
  • New Yogis: Many pregnant women are looking for low impact forms of exercise and may take up yoga for the first time. The best thing to do in this situation is to find a prenatal yoga class at your local yoga studio. You can start attending prenatal classes as early in your pregnancy as you like. However, if you are not feeling well, it may be better to wait to start a yoga regimen until your morning sickness has passed, which is usually in the second trimester.
  • Experienced Yogis: Even if you are not experiencing morning sickness, you may find that your regular classes feel a bit too intense. At the same time, prenatal classes seem a bit too gentle. One solution is to decide which class to take on a given day depending on how you feel that day. You can also start to incorporate some prenatal adaptations into your regular practice. Make sure to tell your teacher what you are doing, and think of your pregnancy as your permission slip to do the practice that is right for you on that day. As your pregnancy progresses, you may start to find that the prenatal classes you attend are more and more suited to your changing body.
  • Home Practitioners: If you use yoga videos, get a prenatal one. If you plan your own sequences, begin to incorporate the adaptations. Also, begin to do prenatal sun salutations.
  • First Trimester Adaptations: Many prenatal adaptations are designed to accommodate a big belly and prevent compression of the uterus. During the first trimester, the uterus remains fairly small and is protected by the pelvis, so compression is not really an issue. However, if you feel any discomfort, even in the first trimester, you should always err on the side of caution. Most of all, remember that this is not a time to try to advance your practice, but rather a time to become more in tune with your body and really listen to what it wants to do.
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  1. Curtis K, Weinrib A, Katz J. Systematic review of yoga for pregnant women: current status and future directions. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:715942. doi:10.1155/2012/715942