Pregnant? Congratulations! For most women, this will be one of the most exciting times of your life. For some women though, while still magical, it can also be a time where joints stiffen up, you feel bloated, your back may hurt and you generally feel a bit “blah”, especially if morning sickness comes into play in a big way!

No matter what your situation, pregnancy yoga can help you relax, keep joints and muscles supple yet strong and promote overall wellbeing. It’s also a fantastic was to stay fit and healthy during your pregnancy.

Pregnancy yoga can also support you through the labour and birth process. Developing a regular practice of pregnancy yoga allows yourself to stop, listen to your body, slow down your mind, maintain a positive mindset, and give yourself the time and space to absolutely let go.

Focused breathing and meditation, along with the balance and movement that pregnancy yoga brings with it, are known to help alleviate discomfort and anxiety during labour.  These tools empower you to remain confident within yourself, throughout your pregnancy and in your birthing room! Remember you will have hormones racing through your body as your baby develops, and these can lead to anxiety and stress if left unchecked. Pregnancy yoga is a wonderful way of bringing your thoughts, emotions and physical being to a balanced centre.

The Benefits Of Pregnancy Yoga

The benefits of pregnancy yoga and many and varied, but the main ones include:

Focused breathing

Focused breathing is simply mindful breathing. Take time to inhale deeply for a count of five, hold for a second or two and slowly exhale for a count of five. Or breathe in deeply as you come into the posture and hold while you hold the posture. Following that, exhale as you exit the posture. By regulating your breath in this manner, you calm any anxiety, which is then passed on to baby. It also helps to settle your central nervous system, which may help relieve any minor aches and pains associated with pregnancy.

Any focused breathing is good, but diaphragmatic breathing – in and out through your nose, has so many benefits.  Firstly, it is a focal point, helps to reduce shortness of breath, and it directs energy down to baby, and when your birthing day arrives, this is a great breathing technique to use if you experience discomfort.

When you are in labour, the way you greet a contraction plays a very big part on how your labour may unfold, breathing is such an important component.


It’s well known that yoga is a great way to help your mind and body come to a place of balance. It helps you feel centred and grounded. This is no different that when you are pregnant, in fact, it is probably more important.

Safe approach to stretches for mother and baby

When you’re pregnant, you don’t want to simply jump into exercise for fear of gaining weight. If you’ve been a runner your entire life, it may well be safe for you to continue running but be sure to check with your GP first. It might be that you alter your routine to a brisk walk instead. Luckily, yoga is a fantastic exercise for mother and baby, if you are gentle with your practice (no intense postures in very hot rooms when pregnant!).

Find a studio that specialises in pregnancy yoga and be guided by their experienced instructors. Those who are in their third trimester may have issues with some of the balancing postures, but a good yoga instructor will advise of modifications you can employ to help you come into a version of the posture that works well for you.

Pelvic floor activation

Many yoga poses, such as Bridge Pose, Warrior II and Chair Pose have great benefits for strengthening your pelvic floor muscles and helping your body cope with the growing weight of the baby. It will also serve you well in the post-natal stage as it can help with incontinence.

Strengthening your mind and body

Yoga is an amazing form of exercise that uses your own body as resistance for strength, while at the same time offering a beautiful stretch. This of course gives you supple, strong muscles. The meditative nature of yoga helps you maintain clarity and strength.

Improves sleep

Any pregnant woman will know that sleep is often hard to come by, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy when finding a comfortable sleeping position can be a challenge. The very nature of yoga will help you relax into this more readily and you will find sleep comes to you a lot more easily.

Reduce stress and anxiety

I’ve touched on this earlier, but stress and anxiety can sometimes be a big part of pregnancy. Am I eating the right foods for my baby? Do I have all the things I need for when baby comes home? Is it safe to use my mobile phone when pregnant? The list of anxiety-related, stressful questions could go on forever.
Mostly, there are very simple answers at your fingertips, but yoga can help reduce the stress and anxiety to begin with. Regular practise will help keep you calm, chilled out and in control.

Increases flexibility

Obviously when you’re pregnant, flexibility is everything. The birth process aside, when you are heavily pregnant, moving around can be a chore. The more flexible you are, the easier movement becomes. Regular yoga practice can assist with this.

Why Gentle Stretching?

The human body is fascinating, it changes shape all the time, but during pregnancy, our body experiences change so much faster, which is why pregnancy yoga is so amazing.  As you move through the weeks and months of pregnancy the poses may seem a little harder each time you attend.

Pregnancy Yoga is a calm and gentle class, with poses that are specific for mother and baby, to be comfortable.  Ideally the poses allow for ‘open’ movement, (so there is no pressure on your belly), hip stretches and posture awareness, and these are all key to help with a supple body for labour and birth.

Not every pose is practical, listen to your body and just see how you go.  If there are props such as bolsters, blocks and straps available, use them to make practice easier, especially towards the end of your pregnancy.

Do I have to do every pose?

No, it’s more important to listen to your body and listen to your baby. You set the pace, listen to the instructor and decide for yourself.  If you need help with a modification, simply ask your yoga instructor.

What happens in class?

Pregnancy yoga starts with breathing practice, then moves into gentle stretches and finishes with meditation/relaxation or focused breathing. It’s totally your choice how you finish the class – because it’s all about you.  You may feel baby move more as you calm all of you senses in class, it’s a great time to send loving thoughts to your baby, to appreciate yourself, your own body and the miraculous feat it is achieving.

Why meditation?

Regular meditation is invaluable. It’s time to stop, breathe and connect. It’s great be aware of passing thoughts, and then let them float on by.  It’s not a hard and fast rule, to not have thoughts during practice, just try to let them go if you can.

Meditation can also be about finding inner peace or learning to let go. Both are OK – whatever the intention, simply go with that.

It could perhaps be the only time during the day that you stop to listen and notice baby within you. The bond between you and your baby is so important. Slow down and start the bonding process now.

The best part or Pregnancy Yoga?

Friendships are formed, stories are exchanged, advice is shared … You will meet so many other women who are experiencing similar or the exact same changes that you are.  This is so very important for your mental wellbeing, when someone understand what you are going through, it makes such a difference.

This may flow on to post-birth gatherings, firm friendships and creating a village. Friendship is everything right now, because as wonderful as being pregnant and having a baby is, you will at times feel very vulnerable.

How Do I Know Pregnancy Yoga Is Safe?

Always seek out a qualified Pregnancy Yoga Teacher as not all poses are safe for pregnancy.  Call around and see if you can observe a class before attending, or Google search, as there may be a video snippet of a class online. This will give you an indication of the style of teaching.

If you have any concerns prior to starting a class, please talk to your health care practitioner and ensure that all is well. Discuss your concerns to make an informed choice about whether pregnancy yoga is ok for you.

The Benefits Of Pregnancy Yoga to Help With Labour and Birth.

Pregnancy Yoga class is a lot like going to an hour long ante natal class. You will learn so much from your instructor, as well as the other attendees in class. You will learn to embrace balance, gravity, movement and breath, as well as belief in yourself. Through your practice, you will find a good, focused breath, prepare your body to become strong but supple and through gentle movement and hip opening poses, hopefully make your birthing day a lot more special than you ever could have expected.

When your birthing day arrives, listen to your body, go within, and draw from your yoga practice and do what feels right for you.



Trudy Vains has a passion for all things birth.  She is a Pregnancy and Post Natal Yoga Teacher, Child Birth Educator and attends birth in the role of a Birth Doula.  Based in Burpengary QLD, Trudy goes above and beyond to help everyone achieve their best birth, and believe in their birthing body.