Is It Safe Practicing Hot Yoga During Pregnancy?

practicing hot yoga during pregnancy

A lot of things changed in the past 100 years. Rapid technology development and new modern lifestyles brought a lot of diversity. Modern ways of living are mostly replacing traditional ones. This article is going to bring a few thoughts regarding the pregnancy nowadays and specific new trends that are coming along.

Being pregnant these days in comparison with the period of pregnancy, for example, 50 years ago, is incomparable. Practicing hot yoga during pregnancy has already been widespread, and it seems that the idea of practicing it started bringing women in pregnancy together. Yoga is considered as an alternative medicine branch, helping in various issues and different conditions concerning physical and mental health.

Lately, yoga has become a field of interest to this particular population since it promotes harmonization and the balance between the body and the mind. Let’s find out how practicing yoga affects pregnancy. 

How Can Yoga Help You During Pregnancy?

Every mother is going to confirm that having a child is the most beautiful thing that happened in her life, and the moment of giving birth was the happiest moment ever. The path to this moment is already known as being rough. The pregnancy period may not be the most comfortable as it might seem. Many women will agree that pregnancy comes with certain discomforts such as nausea, severe headaches, sweating, back pains, insomnia, fatigue, etc. 

The body and the mind are preparing themselves to grow the baby inside the women’s body, and it is a long and complicated process to manage. Gaining some weight is also a part of pregnancy. If you consider this fact, it is undoubtedly that even primary physical activity, like walking, can become pretty tricky as time goes by. That may be frustrating, especially for physically active women.

Yoga promotes physical and mental health care as well as harmonization and a peaceful state of mind and body. It teaches you to stay calm and balanced, particularly when being exposed to the stress that everyday life situations often bring.

Practicing Bikram (Hot) Yoga During Pregnancy

There are many yoga types, and the most popular among pregnant women is called Bikram (hot) yoga. Hot yoga and pregnancy are closely related in terms of trying to stay healthy and fit while pregnant. In general, yoga increases physical form, improves cardiovascular health, but it also helps in reducing the stress level, various pains, and sleep disturbances. Having in mind that pregnancy directly affects and rearranges the hormones in women’s bodies, yoga stands for introducing the way of managing depressive and anxious moods. Typically, breathing exercises are fundamentals of yoga, as well as stretching, physical posture poses, and mediation. Of course, it is essential to choose adequate and comfortable poses that do not put you or the fetus at risk. 

Remember, yoga should relax you and strengthen your body and mind. Unless you feel well, consider making a long pause. Although no known studies are providing concrete results regarding adverse outcomes for women practicing this yoga type during pregnancy, you should be careful.

The Safety Of Practicing Hot Yoga In Pregnancy

Is hot yoga ok during pregnancy? If you try to Google this topic, you will notice that the opinions are different and opposite. Some experts and women, too, support hot yoga, while others are strictly against it. But the question is, why? 

This type of yoga is mostly practiced in warm or even hot rooms, mainly at temperatures of 35°C to 40°C. If you go back at the beginning of this article, you will remember that one of the discomforts women face during pregnancy is increased body temperature. It is not recommended to additionally support increased body temperature by heavy practicing because the body may not be ready to manage it. So, unless you have practiced hot yoga so far, you may consider postponing starting it during this particular period of your life. To maintain the safety of both mother and the fetus, the modification in performing specific extreme postures has to be done like certain poses such as lying on the belly that’s not safe during pregnancy.

The Risks Of Practicing Hot Yoga

Yoga instructors claim that the body temperature during yoga-practicing increases just for one degree, which shouldn’t pose any danger to the fetus or the mother. Still, the doctors seem to be concerned about that and they are trying to answer the questions that arise – is hot yoga bad for pregnancy?

One session of hot yoga practice can last up to 90 minutes. A high level of humidity and the warm room itself will overwhelm the body, anyway. Doctors are worried that the body of a future mother should not be exposed to extreme conditions. They emphasize the possible risks of muscle damage since the pregnancy weight slows down muscle activity, and the tendons are likely loosened up during pregnancy.  

“Excessive heat decreases the time to exhaustion and therefore increases the risk of overstretching, muscle damage, and torn cartilage due to fatigue.6,7 As pregnant women bear extra weight, loose muscles and tendons might increase the risk of injury during hot yoga.”

(Sauna and congenital defects; Saxén L, Holmberg PC, Nurminen M, Kuosma E, Teratology, 1982 Jun)

Being exposed to such heat may be harmful to the baby. Increased body temperature or hyperthermia increases the risks of congenital neural disabilities, and the typical outcome in your baby is spina bifida (impaired spinal canal closure). Hyperthermia usually links to dehydration, which can cause serious issues. Increased body temperature makes you start sweating, and by sweating, you are losing water, meaning that the hydration of your body becomes poor. Some serious complications and defects may occur due to hyperthermia such as incapability of full brain skull formation or stomach organ disorder, also known as gastroschisis.

Bikram Yoga And Early Pregnancy

Most of the conducted studies agreed that practicing Bikram yoga during the early stage of pregnancy should be avoided. At the very beginning of the pregnancy, the body faces many changes to grow the fetus inside. Fatigue and tiredness come along as a part of the natural process, blood pressure tends to be lower, and it is not rare that this fact causes the feeling of dizziness during the first trimester.

“A study investigating maternal use of hot tubs in pregnant women found that the fetuses of women who used hot tubs for any length of time more than once during the first trimester had an increased risk of gastroschisis and anencephaly (OR 1.54, 95% CI 1.10 to 2.17; and OR 1.68, 95% CI 1.05 to 2.70, respectively). Moreover, the investigators also found an increased risk of esophageal atresia and omphalocele among offspring of mothers who reported using hot tubs during pregnancy more than once for longer than 30 minutes.”

(Maternal use of hot tub and major structural birth defects, Duong HT, Shahrukh Hashmi S, Ramadhani T, Canfield MA, Scheuerle A, Kim Waller D, National Birth Defects Prevention Study, Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol)

Tips 

Regardless of the type of practice you do, here are some suggested tips and quick advice for the ladies that want to continue practicing during pregnancy. 

  • Doctors should monitor your progress at all times, and you should check in with your doctor before starting anything regardless of your previous experience. 
  • Drink water! It is essential to take in enough water, especially when practicing hot yoga. It is preventing the body from overheating and dehydration.  
  • Do not push your body. Try to avoid posture poses that require extreme body effort and massive energy input. Remember, increased body temperature can cause serious complications. You should carefully listen to your body and do only poses that are comfortable.
  • If, at any point, you feel discomfort, dizziness, or nausea, stop doing it immediately and try to avoid particular movement for some time. Each pregnancy is individual, and you should follow the signals your body is sending at all times.
  • Take a break. The body preparing for the baby is already pretty much tired. Practice in the way to help your body relax, and not all the way around. Short breaks are very welcome. 
  • While making a session participation choice, consider picking pregnancy program clubs. You will feel more comfortable and relaxed in such an environment. And it is much better and safer to practice while there is someone to guide you through.

To sum it all up, pregnancy is a delicate condition of both body and mind. You will often hear people saying that the most important thing is listening to your body. Don’t pressure anything that provides discomfort. It is crucial that you feel good, no matter what. Yoga is the type of exercise that supports the same idea, and there is no doubt it has its benefits, but if you are mother-to-be, check in with your doctor, because remember, what feels right for someone else doesn’t necessarily need to feel good for you. So make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions and listen to your body. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I do hot yoga during pregnancy?

It is all up to your general health. If you did it previously, and still feel good while practicing it, make sure your doctor approves it and feel free to continue practicing it. Make sure to modify posture poses, so nor you or your baby is at risk. Listen to your body. If you start feeling discomfort at any point, it is essential to stop and avoid particular poses.

Is hot yoga safe during early pregnancy?

Most doctors and professionals agreed that practicing hot yoga should be avoided during the first trimester. Blood pressure can quickly increase if exposed to extreme heat and humidity, and the complications may arise very fast.

Can I do power yoga during pregnancy?

Power Yoga, of course, with some modifications in posture poses, it can be practiced during pregnancy. Again, the most important thing is to listen to your body. The body is a perfect mechanism, be assured it will warn you if something doesn’t fit.

Can hot yoga prevent pregnancy?

No published studies are confirming that practicing hot yoga prevents pregnancy. Make sure you talk to your doctor and follow the guidelines you get. Your whole life from now on will be a modification, all the time.

Can I do butterfly yoga in pregnancy after food?

Butterfly yoga is the most beneficial type of yoga for pregnancy. It requires minimum help and input of effort. It is there to relax you, lower the body tensions, and direct you towards the natural delivery. It helps in digestion which is often very common discomfort among mothers-to-be. So while you might want to wait about one hour after the meal in order to practice it, it will help you with digestion in the long run.

Iana Varshavska
Iana Varshavska
Website administrator

In love with yoga and everything that goes along with it. Iana has been actively practicing yoga for 5 years. In addition to practice, she studies various aspects of yoga philosophy, yoga anatomy, biomechanics, and holodynamics.

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