Is hot yoga safe during pregnancy?

When I found out I was pregnant, I was overjoyed, overwhelmed and terrified that I was going to do something to eff this up.

As a yoga teacher, I began to worry about teaching. I am trained in prenatal yoga, and understand poses that you should or shouldn't do during certain stages of pregnancy. But one thing my training didn’t cover is hot yoga. Is it safe?

Google gave me a variety of answers. It seems everyone has an answer that is 100% right, but they’re all different. I read that the heat puts your baby at extreme risk. I also read that it doesn’t affect the baby at all. So I asked my midwife. Here’s her answer:

“As long as you feel OK, you’re baby is fine. If you start to feel nauseous, obviously you should stop. But I don’t see a reason for you to stop teaching or doing anything different from what your body is used to."

Makes sense. Like most things, just listen to your body. I like that answer.

Source: Bikram Yoga Brisbane on  YouTube

Source: Bikram Yoga Brisbane on YouTube

What I’m teaching, and what I’m not teaching

I stopped teaching CorePower Yoga’s hottest class, which can get up to 102 degrees. I taught it a couple of times early in my pregnancy and it made me feel lightheaded. Other teachers have taught that class during their entire pregnancies and been just fine, but it didn’t agree with my body.

I also stopped teaching a 6 a.m. class because making a pregnant woman get up at 4:30 a.m. is torturous.

But I’m still teaching C2, a heated power yoga class, and a lovely candlelight C1, which is a lightly heated power yoga class. So far, I feel fine. 

(Come take a class with me!)

What I’m practicing

As for my personal practice, I’ve been taking some hot classes, but taking them slower. I also found a local studio that specializes in prenatal and postnatal classes and have enjoyed taking classes there. It's nice to have a practice specifically for my changing body. It's also nice to connect with other pregnant yogis. If you're a preggo in the KC area, check out hOMe Holistic Center in Overland Park!

And of course, I have continued to practice at home. 

What I’m not practicing

I’m not attempting any inversions without a wall behind me (and I'm hardly inverting at all) and I’m not trying a bunch of new things. Because I don’t want to fall and hurt the wee one. And because I've been craving more restorative movements to soothe the aches of my growing body.

I might be overly cautious but I’m new at this, and still terrified I’m going to eff something up. That being said, exercise is great for me and the baby, and I’m not going to stop.

There's still a negative stigma around exercising while pregnant that I don't understand. Exercise has been proven to be beneficial to women and their children, yet it's more socially acceptable for me to sit at home eating ice cream and pickles than move my body. As women our bodies seem to always be open to other people's criticism, and that is only heightened during pregnancy. 

Every woman’s body is different and nobody can decide what’s right for your body but you. Maybe hot yoga, or yoga of any kind, feels horrible. Maybe it feels great. For me, slightly heated classes are feeling good but I’m laying off the super-duper hot classes. I certainly don’t judge mommas who don’t back off of them.

Hoping this is helpful. In a sea of strong opinions on the internet, I didn’t find many personal experiences and what led women to their decisions. It was mostly black and white. So here’s what led me to my gray decision, for what it’s worth.

Namaste, mommas.