Downward Facing Yoga Mama: Yoga Inversions During Pregnancy

Here is a “Monkey Listens” question we received recently:

“I’ve been told pregnant women should not do Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog). What are some alternative poses I could offer my pregnant students (in a non pre-natal class) that offer the same benefits?”

I was really happy to see this question because it means that  pregnant women are going to class, and that yoga teachers want to keep them safe.  It also gives me the perfect opportunity to talk about inversions in pregnancy, which is a common question for teachers and yoginis.

What is an Inversion?

Believe it or not, there are differing opinions in the yoga world on what exactly constitutes an “inversion”.  In some circles, it is defined as any pose where your feet are above your head.  This  definition of an inversion would then include poses such as:

  • Viparita Karini (Legs Up the Wall)

  • Sirsasasna (Headstand)

  • Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand)

  • Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand)

  • Pincha Mayurasana (Scorpion)

Depending on who you ask, you may also get the answer that inversions are any pose where the head is below the heart.  With the second definition of an inversion, we add more poses to the above list including; Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold), and Prasarita Padottanasana (Standing Straddle Fold).

It is important to our discussion of inversions during pregnancy, that we be clear on which definition and type of inversion we are referring to.