Prenatal Yoga in the First Trimester

Two women sit on the floor in a prenatal yoga class
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Yoga is safe to practice in the first trimester of pregnancy, although hot yoga (like hot tubs or other activities that could overheat you) should be avoided. The first three months of pregnancy are a time of major changes in your body and practicing yoga can help you navigate this time both physically and emotionally.

In fact, significant research points to the profound mind-body benefits (from stress relief to flexibility) yoga offers.

Listen to Your Body

Long before any outward manifestation of pregnancy begins to get in the way of doing poses, your body may begin to feel different on the inside. Yoga can help you tune in to your body.

You may think you know yourself and what your body can do, but yoga teaches you to respect the cues your body gives you, an attitude that can help you prepare for listening to your body during 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.

Discuss your plans to do yoga with your health-care provider before getting started, and find out if they have any limitations for your physical activities.

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.

Where to Practice Prenatal Yoga

There are many ways to access prenatal yoga—and early on you may even want to continue with regular yoga classes provided they aren't too vigorous or, as noted above, in heated rooms.

You may not feel comfortable discussing your pregnancy with many people in the first trimester. But you may want to tell your 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.

At Your Regular Studio

For experienced yogis, you may be able to continue practicing at your regular studio. This is especially ideal if they offer lower intensity and prenatal classes. Plus, you may already know the instructors, which can be beneficial in getting personalized recommendations for ideal classes and accommodations for your body.

Note that 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 may seem a bit too gentle early on in pregnancy. One solution is to decide which class to take on a given day depending on what feels right for your body in the moment. You can also start to incorporate some prenatal adaptations into your regular practice.

As your pregnancy progresses, you may start to find that the prenatal classes you attend are more and more suited to your changing body.

In a Prenatal Yoga Class

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.

At Home

Home yoga practitioners have lots of options available online. If you use yoga videos, get a prenatal one. If you plan your own sequences, begin to incorporate the adaptations that feel right for your body. Also, you may want to begin to do prenatal sun salutations.

Restorative yoga, a practice that focuses on calming and resting the mind and body, offers a deeply relaxing exercise option that is beneficial during pregnancy for both beginning and experienced yogis.

Modifications and Poses to Avoid

Many prenatal adaptations are designed to accommodate a big belly and prevent compression of the uterus, issues that start to become relevant in the second trimester. During the first trimester, the uterus remains fairly small and the fetus is very well protected by the pelvis and amniotic fluid.

So, being stomach-down on the floor is still okay. However, if you have morning sickness you may want to avoid this position as it might trigger nausea.

The rapid hormonal changes (with increases in estrogen, progesterone, and relaxin, which relaxes the musculature system) that occur in pregnancy are likely to impact your practice, affecting your balance, flexibility, and ease getting into and out of poses. So, even if you're an experienced yogi, approach each pose with fresh eyes and a bit of caution, especially as all that relaxin can make it easier to overstretch.

If you feel any discomfort, even in the first trimester, you may want to avoid those poses that feel off-putting. Most of all, remember you don't need to try to advance your practice, but rather focus on becoming more in tune with your body and really listen to what it wants to do.

A Word From Verywell

Except in the unusual case that your doctor advises against it, yoga is generally safe during pregnancy and can be started in the first trimester. Prenatal yoga can offer many benefits during pregnancy. As with all yoga, you can and should adapt your practice to make it work for what your body can do—and needs—on any given day.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Gothe NP, Khan I, Hayes J, Erlenbach E, Damoiseaux JS. Yoga Effects on Brain Health: A Systematic Review of the Current LiteratureBrain Plast. 2019;5(1):105-122. doi:10.3233/BPL-190084

  2. 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

By Ann Pizer
Ann Pizer is a writer and registered yoga instructor who teaches vinyasa/flow and prenatal yoga classes.