I teach Prenatal Yoga at CNY Healing Arts in Rochester, NY. Frequently I hear students ask if it is safe to practice supine (on the back) yoga poses. Many doctors tell pregnant women not to rest or exercise on the back during pregnancy. Lying on the back during pregnancy after 20-22 weeks gestation can create a pooling of blood in the lower legs. How does this happen? The growing uterus may rest on the vena cava and aorta that transport blood to and from the heart. But did you know that more women feel the effects of this hypotension from standing upright? I bet your doctor didn’t tell you to stop standing!
Standing upright and still during the third trimester can reduce maternal cardiac output by as much as 18%. Lying in a supine position (on the back) with legs extended can reduce cardiac output by as much as 9% in the second and third trimester. (Women’s Fitness Program Development, Ann F. Crowlin) In order to keep your body safe during pregnancy you will need to develop confidence to listen to your body and act accordingly. If standing still starts to feel uncomfortable move and sway the hips, shift your weight or better yet.. sit down. If lying on your back starts to feel uncomfortable roll to your left side. Lying on the left side during pregnancy brings more blood flow to the uterus.
To avoid hypotensive syndromes during my yoga classes I educate my students and encourage them to listen to their body. First we discuss hypotension, what it feels like and what causes it. Then I always give the students a choice to participate in the standing and supine positions or choose other poses. If students choose to do supine poses we spend no more than 3 minutes in the pose and I encourage the women to roll to their left side if any discomfort is felt. Studies show that 3-5 minutes of exercise in supine positions had no adverse effects. (Women’s Fitness Program Development, Ann F. Crowlin).
I encourage you to talk with your doctor or midwife and discuss the signs and symptoms of hypotensive syndrome. Although I am trained to keep women safe in my prenatal yoga classes, your doctor knows you much better than I do. Trust their advice and remember we can always find yoga poses specific to your needs and comfort level in my prenatal yoga classes! There will always be choices. Hope to see you soon.
CNY Healing Arts Center
2244 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14610