**Editor’s note: This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. Always consult a health professional.
I’ve been teaching yoga to pregnant women for years.
However, it wasn’t until I had my own twin-baby belly that I truly understood how difficult it can be to move around. Many yoga mamas really love Sun Salutations, but they tend to get a lot more challenging during pregnancy, so they require a little creativity.
Especially after 20 weeks, there are some things that should change in your yoga practice—specifically your Vinyasa flow. With a growing baby belly, it’s harder to move forward and back on the mat. In particular, stepping back to Plank Pose, or forward from Downward Dog, becomes super awkward with a new bump. Eventually, the tummy will be so big that Cobra Pose and lying on your stomach will be completely and absolutely out of the question.
So, it’s essential to know how to modify your Vinyasa yoga practice in order to keep doing yoga safely throughout pregnancy. Let’s be honest—a prenatal yoga class might not always work into our schedules. But when we know how to move safely and modify for pregnancy, we can use prenatal techniques in any class.
My favorite way to customize a Sun Salutation for pregnancy is simple. I call it the “Mama Vinyasa.” It’s designed so a mama can go to any Vinyasa yoga class and feel confident practicing modified Sun Salutations, even if the teacher doesn’t offer variations.
Here’s how to make a Sun Salutation work during pregnancy:
1. Start and finish at the back of the mat. Start at the back of the mat with feet hip-distance apart (or wider). Inhale to reach the arms up, and exhale to fold over with the knees softly bent.
2. Walk hands forward to Plank Pose or Down Dog. On the next inhale, lengthen the spine and exhale to walk the hands forward to Plank Pose.
3. Use the knees for a push-up. Lower your knees behind you and exhale for a little push-up—but skip it if it doesn’t feel safe.
5. Walk hands back from Downward Dog. Stay for as many breaths as the teacher cues, and when the rest of the class is moving to the front of the mat, you walk your hands to the back of the mat. Inhale up halfway, and stay there for the exhale. Then inhale all the way up to standing, exhaling hands to heart center.
Trust the wisdom of your inner-teacher and move more slowly if necessary. As mothers, we have powerful intuition—so listen to it. Skipping the yogi push-up and heart-opener is perfectly fine if there’s any pain associated with those movements. When we trust ourselves, we can feel confident going to any yoga class and modifying in order to stay safe.
Author: Brigitte Kouba Neves
Image: Flickr/Alena Getman
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina