You likely already know the benefits of hot yoga. In addition to being an intense workout, it’s also great for your cardiovascular health and can help with feelings of anxiety and depression. If you’re pregnant, your doctor or midwife will tell you that maintaining some sort of exercise routine is recommended but what do you do if your regular routine includes hot yoga? Can you do hot yoga while pregnant?
If you're concerned always consult a medical professional. The information below isn't medical advice.
What Is Hot Yoga?
The studio's environment determines hot yoga. This popular type of yoga lets you sweat out your stresses, burn calories and get fit.
Hot yoga includes different types of yoga practice, so classes can vary significantly. Always research the classes to understand what you will experience during the class. Research online or call to get your questions answered to your satisfaction. Some sessions are quiet and allow no talking, while others are normal yoga classes in a heated room.
Bikram is a particular style of hot yoga where the room is heated to about 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40% humidity. This class follows a strict yoga routine of 26 poses and two breathing exercises for 90 minutes.
What Are The Benefits Of Hot Yoga?
The benefits of hot yoga are similar to those of regular yoga, but hot yoga warms your muscles and ligaments to help you sink deeper into a stretch. As a result, you might find you can more easily achieve the difficult yoga poses and backbends you've been working on.
Through hot yoga you can also reduce muscle and back pain. This type of yoga helps your posture and flexibility and burns calories because your heart must work harder to regulate your body's temperature.
These classes, like regular yoga, include meditation and deep breathing, which can improve anxiety, relieve stress and even help you sleep better. The meditation, pranayama and yoga poses improve wellness and keep you fit.
Should You Exercise While Pregnant?
The short answer is yes. Prenatal exercise is good for you. Physical activity helps you sleep more restfully and builds stamina. Some yoga poses, or asanas, can help strengthen and relax the pelvic floor as well as reduce stress and depression.
You might have to change the way you exercise or try different yoga poses like standing poses. Many yoga poses and pranayama (breath control) have been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate.
If you led an active lifestyle before you got pregnant, then your body can handle slightly more intense workouts. However, if you weren't active, avoid intense physical activity, as it won't be good for you or the baby. Just take it slow.
You must listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself, or you will tire more quickly. Take more regular breaks if necessary. Don't be put off by this, you're growing a human. It's tiring!
Is Hot Yoga While Pregnant Safe?
Though hot yoga while pregnant hasn’t really been studied, most instructors will encourage you to check with your doctor before participating in a hot yoga class.
Hot yoga poses risks for participants, and pregnant women might be more susceptible. Risks include excessively high body temperature during hot yoga. Overheating can cause you to faint, and your additional weight can cause injuries. In addition if a pregnant woman’s temperature gets too high, it could cause problems for the fetus.
Hot yoga is very vigorous and involves temperatures as high as 105 degrees with as much as 40 percent humidity. That’s a really intense environment that puts a lot of stress on the body so it is always best to talk to your doctor before attending a class.
Every situation is different. If you’ve never taken a hot yoga class before, starting when you’re pregnant is not a good idea.
When you’re pregnant, the best thing is to stick to what your body knows and maintain the same level of intensity. That said, if you’ve been doing hot yoga for a while and your body is used to the intensity, your doctor may say it’s okay to continue with modifications.
As long as your doctor tells you it’s okay to continue, there are some preventative measures you should take to make sure you and the baby stay safe and healthy. It’s very important to listen to your body.
While you might be tempted to push yourself as you would before your pregnancy, don’t. If you’re feeling weak or tired or your body is telling you to sit down or go cool off, listen. Yoga instructors are respectful of this and will encourage you to take rest and water breaks when you need to.
The biggest risk for pregnant women doing hot yoga is the heat. Pregnant women need to be wary of high fevers even when they’re ill as extended body temperatures of 101 F or more can cause problems for the baby. This is why pregnant women are discouraged from sitting in hot tubs and saunas. Hot yoga has the same risks.
The risks seem to be higher in the first trimester, but so little information is available, the additional risks to pregnant women are not fully known.
The literature seems to suggest a possibility of abnormalities in the fetus's brain and spinal cord when the mother's temperature remains high for more than 10 minutes. This is one reason pregnant women are instructed to avoid saunas and hot tubs.
Medical and yoga experts discourage hot yoga for women in their second trimesters and third trimesters.
Also, when you’re pregnant, your body also releases a hormone called relaxin. This causes you ligaments to relax to make room for the baby. The changes in your body can lead to a loss of balance and control and an increased risk of injury.
When you're pregnant, taking care of yourself is more important than ever. Therefore you are smart to be concerned about speculation concerning the risks of hot yoga.
You should always talk to your doctor about any exercise you start, especially hot yoga, because risks can increase if you have a high-risk pregnancy. Also tell your yoga teacher you're expecting, as some yoga instructors or yoga studios might not allow pregnant women to take hot yoga.
You Can Still Exercise
If you decide to skip hot yoga or if your doctor recommends against it, don’t worry! You can still do yoga. There are a lot of modifications that you can do to safely practice throughout your pregnancy, like avoiding deep backbends and twists. The weight of the baby shifts your center of gravity and increases the risk of injury for some manoeuvres.
Some women have a difficult time with pregnancy. They may feel like they’re not themselves anymore. There is a lot you have to give up.
Not only are you not supposed to drink alcohol but there are also several foods you aren’t supposed to eat, like lunch meat and sushi. It’s important to remember that pregnancy is not a disease and that it is temporary. Focus on the unique changes occurring in your body and do your best to make fitness a priority by doing activities that are safe.
Good Yoga Alternatives
While your doctor may tell you not to participate in hot yoga, some other types of yoga are much safer for pregnant women.
Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise when you're pregnant, as it doesn't put pressure on your joints, which can be painful anyway. This water sport also has been shown to reduce nausea, which can be a godsend in the first trimester. It can relieve pressure in your lower back to improve sciatica as well.
The most obvious alternative is regular yoga or prenatal yoga. Slower types like vinyasa might be more suitable to you during pregnancy. Walking, running, biking and Pilates also are healthy alternatives if you want to mix it up! Of course, discuss any of these with your obstetrician first.
Final Thoughts on Hot Yoga While Pregnant
Can you do hot yoga while pregnant?
Ultimately, that’s up to you and your doctor. You must talk to your doctor before you take a hot yoga class while pregnant. Some women have pregnancy complications that could be exacerbated by hot yoga and the temperature and humidity may be enough to cause problems with your pregnancy.
Regardless whether you took hot yoga classes before you became pregnant, always talk to your doctor before entering a hot yoga studio. If you have never practiced hot yoga, or any intensive workouts for that matter, it’s best not to start when you're pregnant. Choose another exercise.
That said, if it’s okay with your doctor and you choose to continue going to a hot yoga class while you’re pregnant, you have to commit to listening to your body. Remember, even though it may feel like it will, pregnancy does not last forever.
Every fitness class carries some risk, but when you’re pregnant, the risks increase. It’s vital you talk to your doctor beforehand, and if you take a class, let your yoga teacher know you're pregnant.
Also, listen to your body. If you’re tired, then rest. If you’re thirsty, drink. Remember, don’t push too hard.
If your body tells you it’s time to stop, it’s time to stop. Take a break when you need to, leave the room to cool down if you have to. Everyone wants what is best for you and your baby and no one will judge you for needing a break.
Finally, if you decide that hot yoga while pregnant is not for you, don’t be too discouraged. There are plenty of other types of yoga you can do until your pregnancy is over and it’s safe to get back in the hot yoga studio again.