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Vinyasa Prenatal Yoga Modifications

May 1, 2013

Yoga pregnancy-1013

Vinyasa Prenatal Yoga Modifications


Kelly Moore writes:

Following up on our conversation about teaching pregnant woman, following is a document with prenatal modifications and assists. In putting this together 3 years ago for our teachers at Om, I leaned towards the conservative side (no inversions, upward bow) as it felt safest and clearest when integrating pregnant women into a class. With that said, there are a wide range of views on poses to avoid/not avoid with pregnancy, so I leave it up to you and your comfort level, relationship with student, personal experience, and prenatal knowledge to inform your teaching. I love talking about this and am happy to share more/answer questions if you have them.


Integration Series:

Child’s Pose: Knees wide to accommodate belly; Forehead on block;

Minimum pressure on belly

Cat/Cow: Focus on Cat side and lengthening the spine. Avoid Cow.

Downdog: Widen feet as need be to accommodate belly; if student is

feeling a lot of pressure in ribs, shortness of breath/dizziness, fatigue or any

other discomfort move them to child’s pose or puppy dog.

Down Dog Hip Opening: Recommend keeping hips level rather than

open to lessen strain on sacroiliac joint, especially in third trimester.

Ragdoll: Open feet wider as belly grows


Sun A:

Take all these postures with wider legs in 2-3 trimesters


Forward fold

Half Lift


Chaturanga Dandasana Modifications/Alternatives:

Regular Chaturanga to upward facing dog ok during first 4 months

Option 1- Hold High plank then push back to down dog

Option 2 – High to low plank & push back to high plank then to down dog

To give student more space, especially in 2 – 3 Trimester, suggest they use

2 blocks under their hands.

Step forward to repeat-no jumping


Sun B:

Utkatasana: Widen feet as belly grows

All can be done as normal:

Warrior 1

Warrior 2

Reverse warrior

Warrior 1 and Warrior 2: Focus on grounding assists through legs; Make

sure they are strong in legs and long through the tailbone. In W1,

backbend should be in thoracic spine.

Crescent Lunge: Avoid twist. Keep hands at heart. To lessen intensity, drop

back knee to floor or come all the way down to a runner’s lunge.

Runner’s Lunge: Move front foot all the way to edge of mat so belly can

easily fall to inside of leg. Offer a block for more lift in the upper body.

Suggest back knee coming to ground.


Vinyasa Prenatal Yoga Modifications

Flip Dog: Avoid; Stay in Down Dog with leg lifted (hip square – work inner

line of leg up to pelvis)

Side Plank: If wrists are unstable, bring to forearm. Support them in the

areas that are closest to the ground. Suggest bottom knee on the floor or

top foot in front to add more support and stability. Bring their focus to the

lengthening of the side body and opening of the heart.

Side Angel Pose: Keep belly lifted away from thigh. Add support by

placing hand on a tall block inside the front foot.


Prayer Twist Series:

Utkatasana: Open feet as belly grows

Prayer twist: Avoid. Stay in Utkatasana with hands at heart.

Gorilla: Modify by grabbing big toes or shins and do not compress belly

Crow: fun pose to see pregnant women in; Option – Take low squat. If

more support is needed, have them squat on a block.


Balancing Series: Balance changes daily with pregnancy, so it is important

that the student listens to her body and if she is off balance that day, to

back off. Offer them support by bringing them to a wall.

Most balancing postures are fine.

Avoid any twisting balancing postures such as Twisting Half Moon.

Dancing Shiva is a great opener, have student take it with leg bent and

thigh a little lower so there is no constriction across belly.

Enjoy these postures: Eagle, Dancers, Tree, Half Moon, Airplane,

Balancing Stick, Warrior 3, Standing Splits


Triangle Series:

Triangle: Regular variation is great – support through legs and spine and

block. Avoid Twisting Triangle.

Standing separate leg stretching: If there is a lot of rounding in spine,

suggest down dog arms so that they lengthen their backside. Avoid Tripod



Hip Openers: Focus on support, stability and strength areas of pose so

that they do not overstretch through hips, pelvis and sacroiliac.

Half pigeon: Block under hip to keep hips level or block in front to allow

space for belly. Stay more vertical to avoid compressing belly. Bring leg

more parallel to front edge of mat to accommodate belly.

Full pigeon: Create space for belly; it will be tricky to do this toward the



Provided by Kelly Moore


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One Comment
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