Benefits of prenatal yoga for pregnant women

When dealing with pregnancy hormones, constant fatigue, and morning sickness, yoga may seem like the last thing on your mind. But this form of exercise and meditation can help you deal with your prenatal phase.

A pregnant woman doing prenatal yoga

Key takeaways

  • Yoga is a form of exercise that connects the body and mind and can be beneficial to pregnant people. It involves meditation, deep breathing exercises, and some physical exercises.
  • The benefits of prenatal yoga include improving blood circulation, preparing the body for labor, and toning muscle groups involved in pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Pregnant people should stick with light yoga poses to prevent harming themselves or their unborn babies.

Staying fit during pregnancy is important both for an expectant mother and for their baby, and one way to achieve fitness is by doing yoga. Prenatal yoga can help improve the mental health of a pregnant person. It can also help alleviate symptoms such as swelling, back pain, bloating, constipation, and fatigue. 

What exactly is prenatal yoga? What are the benefits of prenatal yoga, what should you expect from a yoga class, and what precautions should you take? This article will address all of these and provide more details about what pregnant people need to know about prenatal yoga.

What is prenatal yoga?

Prenatal yoga is a type of yoga ideally designed for pregnant people. It involves both meditation and exercises where specific body positions and deep breathing exercises are used to connect the body and mind.

Prenatal yoga excludes certain positions in regular yoga that may cause harm to a pregnant person and the baby. For instance, prenatal yoga does not involve positions that will be too stressful on your pelvic area or joints. 

Many pregnant people join prenatal yoga classes for their physical and psychological benefits. There are high rates of trauma, psychological distress, and social complexity among pregnant people, a recent 2019 study reported. And one way pregnant women can gain psychological relief is by doing yoga.

About 20% of pregnant people in the United States practice prenatal yoga, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association.The study also found that pregnant people with depressive and stress symptoms tend to be more drawn to yoga. 

That may explain why prenatal yoga classes typically focus on meeting both the physical and psychological needs of expectant mothers.

Benefits of prenatal yoga

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If you are pregnant and seek ways to stay fit or relax, you may want to consider joining a prenatal yoga class or practicing prenatal yoga on your own. Below are ways prenatal yoga may benefit pregnant people.

1. Yoga improves blood circulation

Because pregnant people have a fetus growing inside them, they need an efficient blood flow to enable the fetus to get all the nutrients and the right amount of oxygen it needs to grow and develop normally. Yoga involves stretching and other movements that can improve blood flow to and from the heart. 

2. Yoga helps improve mood

Fluctuations in hormones during pregnancy can also cause mood changes. Also, some people tend to show depressive symptoms during pregnancy. One benefit of prenatal yoga is that it can help improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression during pregnancy.

3. It helps prepare the body for labor

Doing yoga helps build strength and flexibility in the joints, which is helpful during labor. Yoga relaxes you and puts you in a positive frame of mind before labor. 

Prenatal yoga also helps build the coping capabilities and confidence needed to face childbirth. This is one of the amazing benefits of prenatal yoga. Also, deep breathing exercises and meditation sessions may help reduce the anxiety and pain experienced during labor.

4. It helps adjust a changing body

Pregnancy changes a person’s body in so many ways within a short period. This is where prenatal yoga comes in.

Prenatal yoga can support the changes going on in a pregnant person's body, enabling the body to adjust to the changes. By strengthening your body and stretching your muscles, you are easing your body’s process of supporting a fast protruding tummy. 

5. It helps pregnant people build strong support system

When you attend a prenatal yoga class for the first time, you will most likely see other pregnant people in the class. That will be a great avenue to connect with other expectant mothers and share your pregnancy experiences or journey with them. 

If you are wondering about the benefits of prenatal yoga, think of the new friends you will make when you attend a yoga class and how these friends can help shape your pregnancy journey.

Anxiety and fear of the unknown may make pregnancy and labor worse for some people. You can build a support system at your yoga class, which may help you during pregnancy and childbirth. Hearing other people’s stories can be comforting. 

6. It tones important muscle groups

Properly toned muscles are neither too tight nor too lax. They can also help minimize the pain of pregnancy. One benefit of prenatal yoga is that it can help tone important muscle groups that play a role in pregnancy and childbirth, such as the hip, pelvic floor muscles, and abdominal core muscles.

You may want to try gentle backbends and lunges to tone up those muscles.

Other benefits of prenatal yoga for pregnant people include:

  • Improved sleep
  • Reduced stress and improved mental health
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved heart health
  • Enhanced immune system
  • Enhanced strength

What to expect during a prenatal yoga class

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If you attend a prenatal yoga class, you will notice a slight difference between the class and the regular one because the yoga you practice when pregnant will ensure you don’t do any movements that will harm you or your baby.

Your prenatal yoga class may often involve:

  • Light stretching: Your yoga instructor will encourage you to move different parts of your body, such as your arms, neck, and legs, gently.
  • Breathing exercises: Breathing exercises help relax the body. This will involve breathing slowly through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. The breathing technique practiced during your prenatal yoga class may help you deal with labor contractions and manage shortness of breath, which you may experience during pregnancy.
  • Flexibility and balance exercises: Your yoga practice may also involve moving your body into different positions to enhance flexibility and develop strength and balance. However, you may need props like cushions to provide support while you're at it.
  • Abdominal and pelvic floor-targeted movements: You may have to do a standing vinyasa flow that involves hip and chest opening poses, as well as movements that help tone the muscles and strengthen the pelvic floor. 
  • Relaxation: After your yoga, you may be asked to sit still for a while to relax your muscles and mind. There are different ways to achieve this. You may be asked to close your eyes and pay attention to sensations around you, focus on breathing in and out, or repeat a mantra to restore inner calmness.

Precautions pregnant people should take during yoga class

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There are different yoga styles, such as yin yoga, restorative yoga, vinyasa yoga, and Bikram yoga. However, pregnant women must avoid strenuous ones. Before starting prenatal yoga, talk to your gynecologist to ensure it is safe for you. 

Other safety guidelines to follow before or while doing prenatal yoga include:

  • Talk to your yoga instructor, ask questions, and look them up to be sure they are well-trained and that you can trust them enough to carry out their yoga instructions
  • Don't push yourself too hard
  • Set realistic goals
  • Always stay hydrated
  • Pay attention to your body; if you feel discomfort at any point, stop and see your doctor.


Prenatal yoga helps many people go through the pregnancy phase and helps them deal with pregnancy symptoms better. The deep breathing exercise can help during labor by making you feel relaxed and reducing blood pressure and heart rate. It is also best to talk to your doctor before starting prenatal yoga.