Are twists safe during pregnancy?
During pregnancy it’s safe to practise twisting postures without compression. This means that strong, closed twists such as Ardha Matsayandrasana (Lord of the Fishes Pose) or Marichyasana III (Marichi-Sage twist) (illustrations below) are contraindicated.
Closed twists can potentially strain the abdominal muscles, which are already compromised as the belly stretches to accommodate the growing uterus. These kinds of twists also limit the baby’s space and can restrict blood flow to the uterus.
First Trimester – take care!
Practising strong, closed twists during the first trimester is especially problematic as this represents the most delicate phase of the pregnancy with two critical processes going on: the fertilized embryo needs to safely implant into the wall of the uterus, and then towards the end of this trimester, the formation of the placenta—the essential organ that maintains the pregnancy, providing nutrients and oxygen for the foetus—is completed. To be on the safe side, I recommend if you’re in your first trimester to avoid twists all together.
Work with gentle, Open Twists
As any yogini knows, twists feel great! They release tension in the spinal muscles and can alleviate tightness in the upper back.
Gentle, open twists that do not compress the belly, or work too deeply into the lower spine, but instead, focus on mobilising the upper part of the spine, are safe and beneficial during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.
These include open variations of the aforementioned Marichyasana III and Ardha Matseyandrasana (illustrations below) in which a woman twists away from the bent leg; as well as Bharadvajasana (Sage Twist—see video below), simple cross-legged twist, and seated chair twist.
Correct technique is important. Make sure you lengthen through the spine before moving into the twist; create a sense of space between the vertebrae, as well as length through the front of the torso—lifting through the sternum in order to draw the rib cage up and away from the top of the uterus. An added risk of twists that are performed forcibly is the potential of destabilising the sacroiliac joint which tends to be more vulnerable during pregnancy due to the hormone, relaxin.
Watch this video to see Ana adjusting Sophie (28 weeks pregnant) in Bharadvajasana – a safe prenatal twisting posture
Ana Davis is the Director and Founder of Bliss Baby Yoga. She is the lead teacher on our Online Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training Course and Online L1 Restorative Yoga Teacher Training course, and co-facilitates our Online L1 Yoga for Fertility Teacher Training course. Ana has also shared a number of Online Yoga Classes for pregnancy and the postpartum period, and offers One-on-One Online Mentoring sessions and Personalised Online Yoga Classes.
If you are passionate about teaching Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga and would like to further your skills and knowledge through some additional professional development, we also offer Online Extension modules on the topics of Prenatal and Postnatal Anatomy & Physiology, Pelvic Floor Anatomy & Physiology for Women’s Health, and Perinatal Nutrition & Ayurveda.