First Trimester Yoga: What to Focus on & What to Avoid

Woman in early pregnancy performs downward dog over the words "first trimeser yoga: what to focus on and what to avoid"

Prenatal yoga is one of the most recommended exercises for pregnancy. But in your first trimester, when your body hasn’t changed too much yet, it might be difficult to know how to get started. This post is here to demystify what you should focus on and what to avoid in first trimester yoga.

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Woman in early pregnancy performs downward dog over the words "first trimeser yoga: what to focus on and what to avoid"

(The contents of this post do not constitute medical advice. This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read our disclaimer.)

Yoga in Early Pregnancy

It’s never too early to start practicing yoga during your pregnancy. You don’t have to wait until your belly has expanded to enjoy the benefits of prenatal yoga, which include:

  • reduced stress and anxiety
  • improved sleep
  • reduction of pregnancy symptoms like nausea, headaches, and back pain
  • preparation of the muscles you’ll use during labor and birth

Since many of these issues are already present in your first trimester, you might as well start practicing yoga to improve them!

Related: First Trimester Yoga Videos

10 Powerful Benefits of Prenatal Yoga 

If you were already practicing yoga regularly before you got pregnant, you can continue your regular practice through your first trimester, as long as it feels comfortable for you. You might make some modifications for pregnancy symptoms like nausea (skip downward dog). And if you’re really struggling with first trimester fatigue, you may trade a more active practice for a more low-key one like yin or restorative yoga.

If you’re new to yoga, it’s best to start slow and check in with your healthcare provider before beginning a yoga practice. Try going to beginner-specific classes or searching for first trimester yoga videos.

Pregnant woman practices first trimester yoga on the beach
Photo by Amelia Bartlett

What to Focus on in First Trimester Yoga

For first trimester yoga, there aren’t as many physical considerations as you will need to make in later trimesters. Mostly, you should practice listening to your body and making sure that you feel safe, comfortable, supported, and strong during your first trimester yoga classes.

Some other essential tips for first trimester yoga are:

Incorporate Meditation and Breath Control

Many people in the West come to yoga for its physical benefits. I started going to yoga classes to help manage the tension headaches that overshadowed my early twenties. But hopefully, there’s a moment when yoga becomes more than a form of exercise and you get to experience it as the complete system that unites your body, mind, and spirit.

Pregnancy could be that moment for you! Seek out first trimester yoga classes that incorporate meditation and breath control practices. Not only will they improve your pregnancy and childbirth experiences, they will transform your life by helping you become more connected with yourself.

Check in with Your Body

Yoga during your first trimester is a great time to practice checking in with your body. Not only is this important during physical activity, it will also be crucial to be aware of what your body is experiencing throughout your pregnancy and into labor and birth.

At the beginning and end of a yoga class, take a moment to bring your focus to your body. Check in with each part and notice the sensations you’re experiencing. See if those sensations have anything to tell you about how you’re feeling mentally or emotionally. 

You can also do this during a yoga practice, either during restful postures like child’s pose or any time you remember to do a check-in.

Modify with Props

As you practice checking in with your body, notice if you need to make any modifications. It’s okay to change or totally skip a pose (and this is true whether you’re pregnant or not!).

Using props is an excellent way to modify yoga poses. Props can provide extra support, length, and comfort. Keep blocks, a cushion or bolster, a blanket, and a strap nearby during your first trimester yoga practices so they’re easy to access when you need them.

Look for Classes from Certified Prenatal Yoga Teachers

Whether you’re starting prenatal yoga during your first trimester or just looking for classes later on, make sure the teachers are certified in prenatal yoga.

Most yoga teachers start by getting certified through a 200-hour program. They may do an overview of prenatal yoga during this certification, but it’s usually not very in-depth.

A prenatal yoga certification involves at least 80 hours of instruction and practice so that teachers are fully prepared to safely lead pregnant students. Just like you wouldn’t see a healthcare provider that doesn’t have the necessary qualifications, don’t compromise on the quality of your prenatal yoga instruction. Make sure you’re practicing with a teacher who will keep you safe.

What to Avoid in First Trimester Yoga

Later in your pregnancy, there will be poses to avoid, like ones that involve deep twists or lying on your belly. During first trimester yoga, though, it’s more important to follow a few rules of thumb:

Avoid Hot Yoga

It’s best to skip hot yoga and yoga outside in high temperatures during pregnancy. You risk becoming overheated or developing hyperthermia, a condition where your body temperature rises too much.

Don’t Overdo It

Fatigue is a common first trimester symptom, and it’s there for a reason! Fatigue acts as a reminder for you to slow down as your body adjusts to your changing hormones and increased blood volume.

If your body is telling you it’s too tired to complete the yoga practice you started, listen to it! You can modify the speed or poses or shorten the practice. You can also switch to a type of yoga that requires less energy like yin, restorative, slow flow, or yoga nidra. Or you can completely stop your practice and just rest!

Any option you choose is valid. First trimester yoga is all about listening to your body and figuring out what is best for you and your growing baby.

Stop if You Don’t Feel Well

There are some cases where you should stop a first trimester yoga class because continuing could be unsafe. If you experience any of the following during yoga, stop practicing and call your healthcare provider:

  • dizziness/lightheadedness
  • nausea
  • shortness of breath before you start exercising
  • muscle weakness
  • numbness
  • dehydration
  • overheating or hyperthermia
  • spotting or bleeding
  • pain in your chest, abdomen, or pelvis

Practicing yoga during your first trimester allows you to experience yoga’s benefits from the very beginning of your pregnancy. Remember to listen to your body, be patient with yourself, and acknowledge all that your body is capable of.

What has your experience been with first trimester yoga? Tell me in the comments!


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