Are Yoga Inversions during Pregnancy Safe to Practice?

yoga inversions during pregnancy

The moment you find out about your little bundle of joy, your world will go upside down. First of all, you’ll experience something completely new and will see your body changing almost every day. 

Pregnancy hormones will likely get you on a roller coaster of emotions and mood swings. And, obviously, some aspects of your life will change forever, too. In a good way, of course!

But how about getting upside down in your yoga practice during pregnancy?

If you’ve spent any time on Instagram, you’ve likely seen at least one pregnant yogi go upside down with grace and ease.

But, are yoga inversions during pregnancy safe to practice?

Let’s find out!

But, first things first…

What Are Yoga Inversions?

Inversions are yoga poses where you get your body in an upside down position. Your feet go over your hips, your hips go over your heart, and your heart goes over your head.

These yoga poses are inversions:

  • Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana),
  • Headstand (Sirsasana),
  • Forearm Stand (Pincha Mayurasana),
  • Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana), and
  • Scorpion Pose (Vrschikasana).

Though this may seem obvious, opinions vary about what inversions are. Some say that inversions awe when your feet go over your head, which makes Legs-up-the-Wall (Viparita Karani) an inversion too.

Others classify yoga poses where your heart goes over your head as inversions, too. This makes Downward Dog, Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana), Dolphin Pose, Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana), as well as Forward Fold (Uttanasana) inversions, as well.

I, personally, think that yoga inversions are more advanced poses that require more strength and effort. Thus, the first definition is the one that I agree with and refer to in this post.

Keep in mind that the information in this post refers to healthy pregnancies only. Make sure to get a green light from your OB-GYN on whether it is safe for you to practice yoga, inversions or do other activities before you do anything.

Is Practicing Yoga Inversions During Pregnancy Safe?

No Prior Inversion Practice

It depends on the nature of your yoga practice before you got pregnant, how your pregnancy is developing, and how you are feeling.

If you’ve never practiced inversions before, it’s best to wait until after you have your baby.

Inversions are rather advanced poses. Therefore they need quite a bit of strength and body awareness to be practiced safely. Pregnancy shouldn’t be the time for you take on yoga inversions or any practice that you have not done before.

Prenatal yoga is an exception here as it is tailored specifically for pregnant women with the needs of their changing bodies in mind. So, if you’ve never done yoga before, joining a prenatal class is not only safe, but also beneficial. Given that your pregnancy has no complications and your OB-GYN sees no problem with it.

Strong Prior Inversion Practice

On the other hand, if you have safely practiced inversions before and your pregnancy is developing with no issues, you should be able to practice yoga inversions during pregnancy, as well.

Inversions can actually feel really pleasant as they take the pressure off the feet, pelvis, and hips.

Beginner Inversion Practice

However, if you just started your inversion journey right before pregnancy and do not have a strong inversion practice, I’d advise you to skip them during pregnancy.

That’s because your center of gravity changes as your belly expands. In addition to that, the hormone relaxin loosens your joints and makes them less stable. Therefore, you become less stable as well and have a higher risk or falling and hurting yourself and your baby.

My Personal Experience

I, personally, skipped inversions altogether during my first pregnancy. I had practiced inversions before but wasn’t advanced at all. In fact, I had only been able to safely do Headstand for only a few months.  

As a result, I didn’t feel strong and safe enough to keep doing yoga inversions while I was pregnant.

But my second pregnancy was different. I had advanced in my personal yoga practice, was much stronger, and was more aware of my body. So, I kept practicing inversions in my first trimester, well into my second trimester, and at the beginning of the third.

Eventually, I stopped but simply because I didn’t feel like doing them anymore. My body was craving hip openers more than anything.

Considerations for Yoga Inversions during the First Trimester of Pregnancy

Many will advise not to practice inversions (or yoga altogether) during the first trimester due to a high risk of miscarriage. Medically speaking, though, most miscarriages happen due to genetic issues of malformations rather than a yoga practice.

So, in most cases, there is nothing wrong with practicing yoga in the first trimester if all is going well.

However, what you should consider during this stage is how you are feeling. Many women experience nausea, weakness, or extreme fatigue (or all three if you are lucky like me). These can make your life a living hell.

So, going upside down may not feel comfortable or make you feel unstable or nauseous. If that’s your case, it may be best to skip inversions. Legs-up-the-Wall can be a great alternative here.

Considerations for Yoga Inversions during the Second Trimester of Pregnancy

The second trimester of pregnancy is usually when women feel their best. Nausea usually passes in the first weeks, energy levels increase, and the belly is still not that large to cause much discomfort.

Keep in mind though that as your baby grows and your belly expands, so does your blood volume. It increases by up to 50% by the end of pregnancy.

Because of that, you may feel dizzy during transitions or when you change your axis. Therefore, if you choose to practice inversions enter and get out of them slowly. You can also practice variations by the wall or get a spotter to keep an eye on you.

Considerations for Inversion Practice during the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

As your pregnancy progresses, listen to your body. If inversions don’t feel good or comfortable in the third trimester, don’t practice them. If they still feel good, don’t hold them for a long time. 5 breaths or approximately 30 seconds should be more than enough.

There is some controversy about practicing inversions later in pregnancy once your baby has turned. Especially if it has been in breech position.

It is unlikely that your baby will turn again, but if you are in doubt, don’t risk.

Alternatives for Yoga Inversions during Pregnancy

If you don’t feel like going upside down but still want to experience some of the benefits, here are some poses that you can be great alternatives to inversions:

  • Down Dog,
  • Extended Puppy Pose,
  • Wide-Legged Forward Fold,
  • Child’s Pose, and
  • Legs-up-the-Wall with bolsters, and/or blankets propping up your upper body. Add a lavender eye pillow for some extra relaxation if you wish.

They’ll take the pressure off your joints, yet you won’t risk your balance and stability in them. Widen your stance (or knees in Child’s Pose) so that there is more space for the little one.

Final Considerations

There’s never room for comparisons and competition in yoga and even less when you are pregnant.

And always pay attention to how your body is feeling. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t practice it or go for alternatives instead.

Remember that you’ll always be able to practice inversions after pregnancy.

Let’s Talk!

How do you feel about yoga inversions during pregnancy? Do they feel good? Or do you feel safer if you skip them?

And if you liked this post, you can always show me some love by leaving a comment or connecting with me on Facebook or Instagram.

NaMAMAste 🙂

There are 4 comments

  1. Irene

    I’m in complete awe when I see pregnant yogis doing inversions on Instagram, but I am absolutely scared doing them myself. I feel like I’ll fall and hurt myself and the baby.

    1. Karina

      Hi Irene, I felt the same way during my first pregnancy, but my second one was totally different.

      Do whatever feels good and stay safe. If you feel that skipping inversions is best for you, don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of time practicing them after the baby is here 🙂

      Congratulations on your pregnancy!

  2. Bambi

    I think I will stick with them but only gently walking up a wall to a stand then walking back down the wall. Really eases the tension off my hips

    1. Karina

      Hello, thanks for your input. As long as you feel strong and comfortable, you should be fine.

      That is a great option! Another alternative that you can try is propping your feet on a chair (with your back facing the wall if necessary) and lifting one leg at a time. This way you’re getting the benefits of the inversion you’re practicing, yet, not putting too much pressure on your body. Make sure it’s a good and sturdy chair before you do so.

      Congratulations and stay safe!

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