Every woman wants to have a healthy baby. Yoga practices, when done carefully, can strengthen and relax a woman’s body. Yoga poses tone muscles, improve overall balance and circulation, while making your joints more flexible.

Yoga poses help you breathe and relax, which can help you adjust to the physical demands of labor, delivery, and motherhood. Learning to do ujayi breathing prepares you for labor and delivery by training it to stay calm when you need it most. If you are fearful during labor, your body produces adrenaline and stops the production of oxytocin, a hormone that causes labor to progress. Yoga practice will help you combat the urge to tense up when you feel pain, and instead show you how to breathe.

The practice of meditation is extremely beneficial for you and your baby. It has been shown to slow the heart rate, relax and focus the mind – all great for baby.

As a general rule of thumb, avoid backbend poses as well as extreme forwardbend. Spread your legs for a seated paschimottanasana (forward bend).

If you’ve never practiced inverted poses before, now is not the time to start. However, if you have an investing practice, you can proceed carefully through the first two quarters. Don’t hold the poses for long.

You may want to skip any movements that require you to lie on your back for more than a few minutes, especially after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Lying on your back can put pressure on the inferior vena cava, the vein that returns blood from the legs to the heart, and can cause dizziness, shortness of breath, and nausea. But many women are comfortable lying in this position well into pregnancy, so watch your body and your instincts.

First trimester

You don’t have many restrictions this early in your pregnancy. If you are a regular yoga practitioner, accept that your routine will require modifications as time goes on. Listen to your body.

Second trimester

Don’t try to hold poses for a long time and remember to dive into yoga positions slowly and carefully to avoid injury due to loosening of your joints. Your expanding belly will affect your sense of balance.

Third trimester

You probably feel less elegant now that your tummy is bigger, so do standing poses with your heel against the wall to avoid losing your balance and risking injury to yourself or your baby. Accessories like blocks and straps can also help you move through different poses with greater stability.

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