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Prenatal Yoga - The Third Trimester

How to Safely Practice Prenatal Yoga in the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

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Updated June 23, 2014

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Prenatal Yoga

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As the third trimester progresses, prenatal yoga may become more difficult (just like walking up the stairs, tying your own shoes, and turning over in bed). Your belly becomes a real factor, as do general tiredness and feeling cumbersome. If you were able to practice yoga with some vigor in the second trimester, give yourself the leeway to ease up now. All poses that compress the belly should now be avoided. Take an increasingly cautious approach as your due date nears, but there is no reason to stop practicing prenatal yoga as long as you feel up to it. As always, start be reviewing the Prenatal Yoga Dos and Don'ts.

New Yogis: Some women find they only have time to start doing prenatal yoga when they take their maternity leave. If this is the case, you can still get some benefit from doing yoga stretches and a gentle practice. Just make sure your teacher knows your situation and makes sure you take it easy -- this is no time to overdo it.

Experienced Yogis and Home Practitioners: By now you are used to listening to your body and respecting what it tells you to do. Continue to do this and you will reap the benefits of a safe yoga practice until the end of your pregnancy. Prenatal Sun Salutations can be done as late as you feel able to do them.

Mental Preparedness: Even more than physically preparing you, yoga will help you prepare mentally for the birth of your baby by teaching you to listen to your body and be in the moment without anticipation. The best way to do this is to focus on the breath, using long inhales through the nose and exhales through the mouth. Third Trimester Adaptations: At around 36 weeks, you are advised to decrease the number of inversions. The baby is moving into the birth position at this time, so you don’t want to do any poses that may alter his or her position in a negative way. You should stop doing Legs Up the Wall and Bridge Pose, unless your baby is breech, in which case these poses can help her to turn. Poses done on all fours are also good for turning a breech baby. You should also decrease the number of Downward Dogs you do, since Down Dog is a mild inversion, substituting hands and knees pose. In addition, stop doing any pose that becomes uncomfortable. Squats continue to be appropriate to the end of pregnancy, unless you are at risk for preterm labor.

For more information, sign up for the Prenatal Yoga Email Course, visit the Introduction to Prenatal Yoga page, or use the trimester-by-trimester guides: First Trimester, Second Trimester.

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