15 Different Yoga Poses To Avoid When Pregnant

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If you are a regular yoga practitioner, you may wish to continue doing so while pregnant and would want to know which yoga poses to avoid when pregnant. However, because each yoga posture has its own set of advantages and risks, it’s critical to know the safe postures and the poses that may cause harm to yourself and your baby. Yoga is among the many relaxation techniques that one can do during pregnancy for both mental and physical well-being. This post discusses certain yoga poses to avoid during each trimester, along with the reasoning.

In This Article

Types of Yoga Postures You Should Avoid During Pregnancy

Prenatal yoga poses that need overstretching the muscles, twisting, and bending could be harmful for you and the fetus. Here are a few types of postures that are considered unsuitable for pregnant women (1).

  • Abdominal poses that require compression of the abdomen are not ideal. These can constrict the blood flow to the fetus and stretch the ligament too.
  • Closed or deep twists involve compressing the internal organs and affect the supply of oxygen and blood to the fetus. Instead, try open twists, where you twist away from the bent leg rather than towards it. In any case, consult your doctor before attempting it.
  • It is better to avoid breathing techniques that need you to hold your breath for a long time. Also, avoid pregnancy stretches or poses such as bellows breath or breath of fire that require rapid or quick belly movements.
  • Backbends require overstretching of the abdominal ligaments and must be completely skipped, especially during the second and third trimesters.
  • Yoga poses that involve transitions of the body, such as moving forward to backward or vice versa (like the sun salutation pose), should be avoided during the first trimester as it could affect the implantation of the embryo.
  • Full inversions include poses such as the shoulder-stand and headstand, in which the head is pointed downward. Such poses may cause nausea or dizziness in pregnant women. There is also a risk of falls and injuries.
  • Belly down or prone poses require lying flat over a surface, on the abdomen. This exerts pressure on the abdomen, which is not recommended during any trimester of pregnancy.

Always consult your doctor before trying any poses. Also, seek the guidance of a trained yoga instructor.

protip_icon Point to consider
You can choose alternatives, such as swimming, indoor cycling, and pilates, to keep yourself healthy during pregnancy.

Yoga Poses To Avoid When Pregnant

All the poses we have listed here should ideally be avoided during pregnancy, and specifically during the trimester mentioned here. Always talk to your doctor and a certified yoga teacher before doing any poses.

First Trimester

In the first trimester, the embryo implants itself in the uterine lining. The fetal growth also spurts during this period, and therefore, strenuous yoga poses must be avoided. Read on to know what yoga poses you should avoid during this semester.

1. Handstand pose, or the Adho Mukha Vrksasana, requires you to pose upside down.

Reason to avoid: As there is a disturbance in the hormonal balance during pregnancy, this pose may cause dizziness in some women. Moreover, balancing yourself on the head is tricky and comes with the risk of falling. This asana needs precise balancing, and lack of practice could lead to injury to yourself and the fetus.

Image: Shutterstock

2. Boat pose, also known as Paripurna Navasana, is a compression asana that helps strengthen the core muscles.

Reason to avoid: The first trimester marks the implantation of the fetus to the uterine wall and the development of the placenta. This yoga pose involves compression of the abdomen and the blood vessels, which can restrict the blood flow to the uterus.

Image: Shutterstock

3. Half prayer twisting pose, or the Ardha Namaskar Parsvakonasana, is a twisting asana that helps strengthen the thigh and core muscles and increases spinal mobility.

Reason to avoid: It compresses the blood vessels in the abdomen, restricting adequate blood flow to the uterus. This can adversely affect the growth of the fetus.

Half prayer twisting yoga pose to avoid when pregnant

Image: IStock

4. Half moon pose, also known as the Ardha Chandrasana, is a great pose to align the spine and strengthen the core.

Reason to avoid: The pose needs great stability. It can also limit the blood flow to the uterus. Moreover, you might fall if the body is not balanced properly.

Image: Shutterstock

Second trimester:

In this trimester, your baby starts attaining a human look. The baby bump is visible, and you may start experiencing a backache due to the growing uterus. Keeping that in mind, here are some yoga poses you should avoid during the second trimester.

protip_icon Be watchful
Pregnancy hormones loosen your muscles and ligaments, increasing the risk of injuries if you push yourself too far for flexibility (3).

5. Back lying pose/ corpse pose, also called Savasana, relaxes the body and helps fight insomnia and anxiety.

Reason to avoid: It requires you to lie on your back, which is not recommended during the second trimester.

Image: Shutterstock

6. Cobra pose or Bhujangasana helps in strengthening the spine and relieving fatigue and stress.

Reason to avoid: The posture needs you to lie on the stomach with the legs stretched back and hands under the shoulder and face upward. This posture puts pressure on the abdomen, which is not good for the fetus.

Image: Shutterstock

7. Full wheel pose or Urdhva dhanurasana is also called the upward facing bow pose. The extreme backbend posture is excellent for strengthening the arms, abdomen, spine, and legs.

Reason to avoid: Extreme backbend postures are harmful during pregnancy. Overstretching of the back during the second trimester can lead to diastasis (2).

Image: Shutterstock

8. Locust pose or Shalabhasana is a prone pose that helps strengthen and improve the flexibility of the back muscles and the spine.

Reason to avoid: It is another stomach-lying posture, which should not be done during the second trimester. Lying on the abdomen can exert pressure on Vena cava (the largest blood vessel), affecting the blood circulation. This posture also hurts the baby.

Image: Shutterstock

9. Fish pose or the Matsyasana is an extreme stretching pose that tones and stretches the muscles of the abdomen and the neck.

Reason to avoid: The growing uterus stretches the ligaments of the abdomen in this semester. This pose can stretch them further and cause joint instability or ligament pull.

Image: Shutterstock

Third trimester:

By this time, your baby has achieved all the developmental milestones and is ready to enter the new world. Practicing some yoga postures during this period can ease the process of childbirth. But a few postures must be avoided. Read on to know what yoga poses to avoid.

10. Hot yoga or Bikram yoga, which was conceptualized by the yoga guru Bikram Choudhury. This yoga includes a sequence of 26 postures to be performed in 90 minutes, in a hot (95–108 °F) and humid (40%) condition. It helps in stretching, detoxifying, improving posture and balance of the body, and relieving stress.

Reason to avoid: During the third trimester, it is common to experience hot flashes (a surge in the body temperature) due to increased metabolism and hormonal fluctuations. Hot yoga can make you dehydrated, affecting your and your baby’s health. Moreover, it involves certain stretching poses that are not suitable for heavily pregnant women.

Here are a few illustrations of the Bikram yoga poses.

Image: Shutterstock

  • Triangle pose (Trikonasana)
  • Camel pose (Ustrasana)
  • Tree pose (Tadasana)
  • Balancing Stick (Tuladandasana

11. Chair pose or Utkatasana helps in toning the leg muscles and strengthen the ankle, back, calves, and hip flexors. You may practice it by spreading the feet two feet apart.

Reason to avoid: It involves stretching of the upper body, and is better avoided, as the ligaments and muscles are already stretched enough during the third trimester.

Chair yoga pose to avoid when pregnant

Image: Shutterstock

12. Seated forward fold or the Paschimottanasana helps stretch the lower back and tones the pelvic and abdominal muscles. It is a great posture for relieving stress.

Reason to avoid: It involves stretching the upper body towards the front. This posture can compress the abdomen and lead to the overstretching of the already stretched ligaments and muscles of the abdominal area.

13. Crow pose or Kakasana improves blood circulation in the limbs and torso, improves lung capacity, increases coordination, and reduces fatigue.

Crow pose

Image: Shutterstock

Reason to avoid: It involves balancing the body on the hands and arms, making the abdominal muscles coil inward. This position can lead to falls and injury during the advanced stage of pregnancy when the body is out of its normal proportion.

14. Fire Log pose or Agnistambhasana stretches the lower back, thigh, and hip muscles and improves flexibility.

Fire Log pose

Image: Shutterstock

Reason to avoid: Though it is not an outright contradiction, pregnant women should avoid this pose if they have back pain or swollen ankles.

15. Full pigeon pose or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana improves body mobility and releases stiffness caused by prolonged sitting and slouching.

Full pigeon pose

Image: Shutterstock

Reason to avoid: The pose involves intense back bending, which is not recommended during pregnancy.

Tori Carlaw, a mother and a yoga enthusiast, shares how she misses doing some Yoga poses during pregnancy, “At times, I miss being able to do a stronger Vinyasa Flow, which leaves you energized and ready for the day, I wonder if I can still push up into a wheel, do a proper Caturanga or crow pose (highly likely not at this point!). But now, instead of beating myself up for not being able to do the stronger classes, I have tried to accept this period of my life is not for that type of yoga and one day, I will practice it again, just not now, and that’s okay (i).”

Image: Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are balance poses safe during pregnancy?

If you have experience performing balance poses, you can continue doing them during pregnancy. However, it would help if you stood near a wall or other firm surface to reduce the risk of falling (2). Yoga during pregnancy aids in relieving pelvic pressure and tension from the cervix to open up the pelvic region. This helps mothers to have appropriate birthing positions during labor and delivery.

2. Can yoga poses or twists cause miscarriage?

It is not known if yoga poses or twists lead to miscarriages. However, practicing specific yoga poses could hurt yourself or your baby (1).

3. What is the risk of lying on your back during pregnancy?

Specific yoga poses, such as Savasana, require you to lie on your back. However, lying on your back can cause your uterus to compress blood vessels (4). Hence, it is not advisable to lie on your back during pregnancy.

While yoga is regarded as completely safe during pregnancy, there are some yoga poses to avoid when pregnant and other preventive measures you should take. An Ashtanga yoga instructor, K Pattabhi Jois, advised against practicing asana during the first trimester because it may result in a miscarriage. He also recommends avoiding yoga poses that impose pressure on the growing abdomen, especially during the first trimester and for at least three months after delivery, because your body is recuperating. You can also consider making minor modifications to these poses when pregnant such as spreading your legs wider apart or twisting away from your abdomen. Moreover, It’s critical to listen to your body and avoid overexerting or losing strength because the major reason for these activities is to make your pregnancy journey go smoothly and ease your pain.

Infographic: Yoga Poses To Avoid At Each Trimester Of Pregnancy

As you move through each trimester of pregnancy, it’s crucial to take care of your body and pay attention to its requirements. While pregnant women might benefit greatly from practicing yoga, several positions might not be safe or appropriate. The infographic below explains some specific poses to avoid for each trimester.

what are the yoga poses to avoid when pregnant (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Certain yoga positions should be avoided during pregnancy, especially those that involve overstraining and twisting the muscles.
  • Poses like the boat, handstand, and half moon should be avoided during the first trimester as they can strain the abdomen.
  • During the second trimester, the cobra and locust postures should be prevented as they can impair the body’s blood circulation.
  • It is important to get medical advice before starting any exercise during pregnancy for safety reasons.

Personal Experience: Source

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Yoga Poses You Shouldn’t Do Whilst Pregnant.
    https://www.ifwip.org/2018/08/18/yoga-poses-you-shouldnt-do-whilst-pregnant/
  2. Safe Prenatal Yoga Tips for Each Trimester.
    https://yogainternational.com/article/view/safe-prenatal-yoga-tips-for-each-trimester
  3. Yoga in pregnancy: Many poses are safer than once thought
    https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/yoga-in-pregnancy-many-poses-are-safer-than-once-thought-201512298898
  4. Sleep during pregnancy;
    https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/sleep-during-pregnancy
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