Hot Yoga during Pregnancy?

For many of you this may seem like a common sense answer and yet for others (in particular those yogini's keen to continue their pre-pregnancy practice for as long as possible) not necessarily so clear cut. From my knowledge, education and experience it is my opinion that hot yoga and pregnancy are not a good match, in particular classes that heat the studio space above your natural body temperature. That is not to say or assume that I believe all pregnant women should drop away all aspects of their pre- pregnancy practice and only practice prenatal yoga, but practicing in an enclosed heated room is definitely not one of the recommendations I would give.

The fact is that if you are sweating your body is trying to cool you down and if you are in conditions/circumstances where your body is not effectively able to do so you run into a potentially dangerous situation for mother and baby. Dehydration is a significant risk and definitely something to be avoided during pregnancy. Throughout pregnancy the body requires our fluid content to be high to ensure plenty of amniotic fluid and maintain conditions to ensure the healthy development of the growing babe . It is important to note that there have also been links made between overheating and preterm labour. Even in early pregnancy it pays to be cautious as there have correlations between overheating and neural tube defects in the developing baby. Please have a chat to your midwife, OB or care provider if you are still unsure or would like more info regarding the associated risks and safe exercise practices regarding a stable and safe body temp during pregnancy.

Another issue to take into consideration is the increased probability of overstretching and causing significant damage and/or injury to ligaments and joints in a heated class. The point between stretch and strain during pregnancy easily becomes blurred due to the increase in the hormone relaxin running through the body. Even when we are practicing in a non-heated class it can be harder to gauge and stay within the "safe" boundaries. When we add heat to the mix and we can end up dancing with the devil. Ligament injury and discomfort (especially within the pelvic joints) is unfortunately not uncommon in pregnancy and also during those early months postpartum. I have had many women share stories of their long road to recovery post birth as a result of 'pushing' a little too much into that extra bendiness relaxine provides during pregnancy (a majority of these women had strong dance or yoga backgrounds). Symphysis Pubis and SIJ dysfunction are more common then one would think and sometimes go undiagnosed as they are often assumed by the women themselves to simply be a normal pregnancy discomfort. Much time and effort can be needed to regain stability and proper functioning of these joints postpartum when we don't acknowledge and protect them during the prenatal period.

Caring for, respecting and keeping a deep awareness of your body while accepting that although we may not always feel it, our bodies do function differently through pregnancy. In order to stay safe during our late pregnancy we need to stay safe during our early pregnancy. So before heading off to your normal hot yoga class maybe reflect and consider whether there is a class available minus the heat that would be more suitable for you and bub, or, at the very least a class at your studio that works at a 'warm' temperature (preferably under 30'C ).

From me to you - keep those bumps cool beautiful women


Esther McVicar

Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga Teacher

Classes held in Murwillumbah and Cabarita beach

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