Mindbody

Download the app

The MINDBODY app

Fitness memberships, workout classes, wellness services, beauty appointments and more.

Install
Prenatal Fitness - MINDBODY
Fitness
Published Wednesday Sep 11, 2019 by Whitney English

The Do’s and Don’ts of Prenatal Fitness 

Yoga
Pilates
Barre
Strength Training
Cardio
Expert Advice

For many pregnant women, exercise can take a backseat. I get it. You’re exhausted and uncomfortable—slipping into a pair of tight leggings and sweating your booty off doesn’t exactly sound like a great way to reduce your discomfort.
 
While working out may sound like the last thing you want to do when you’re carrying another human inside of you, engaging in regular, low-impact activities during pregnancy is extremely beneficial to both you and your baby. In fact, some studies show that prenatal exercise may help to reduce aches and pains, improve sleep, and boost mood. But figuring out which exercises are safe for you and your baby can be confusing. If you Google prenatal exercise, you’ll find a wide range of conflicting opinions on what moms-to-be should and shouldn’t do.
 
As a dietitian, a Certified Personal Trainer, and a mom to a 16-month old, exercise has always been a priority for me. During my pregnancy, I was determined to continue my regular routine as long as possible, so I spent a ton of time researching and speaking to experts to learn the best practices for exercise during pregnancy. Here is my list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to prenatal fitness, no matter where you are when it comes to motherhood. 
 

Yoga

First up, yoga. You want to avoid any poses that cramp your baby’s space or put pressure on your stomach. It’s easy to modify most poses to make them safer and more comfortable for you and your baby. For example, instead of trying to do a regular forward fold, open up your legs for a wide leg forward fold, which gives your belly more space. 
 
Some poses can be fine during the first or second trimester, depending on your prior yoga experience, but may be less safe later in pregnancy. If you are comfortable doing full wheel, it can be fine early in your pregnancy. I did this pose until about 25 weeks, but everyone is different. Keep in mind that pregnancy is not the time to push yourself with new poses. Additionally, after the first trimester, it’s best to avoid lying face down. Instead, try doing certain poses on your knees rather than on your stomach—like substituting camel pose for bow pose.
 

1
Yoga

First up, yoga. You want to avoid any poses that cramp your baby’s space or put pressure on your stomach. It’s easy to modify most poses to make them safer and more comfortable for you and your baby. For example, instead of trying to do a regular forward fold, open up your legs for a wide leg forward fold, which gives your belly more space. 
 
Some poses can be fine during the first or second trimester, depending on your prior yoga experience, but may be less safe later in pregnancy. If you are comfortable doing full wheel, it can be fine early in your pregnancy. I did this pose until about 25 weeks, but everyone is different. Keep in mind that pregnancy is not the time to push yourself with new poses. Additionally, after the first trimester, it’s best to avoid lying face down. Instead, try doing certain poses on your knees rather than on your stomach—like substituting camel pose for bow pose.
 

Pilates + Barre

Similarly, with both Pilates and barre, you want to avoid doing any stretches or poses that put pressure on or around your abdominal cavity. During the early stages of pregnancy, you may not need any modifications, but the most important thing is to listen to your body and not push the limits. As your pregnancy progresses, remember to ask the instructor for modifications, so the exercise feels good for both you and baby.

2
Pilates + Barre

Similarly, with both Pilates and barre, you want to avoid doing any stretches or poses that put pressure on or around your abdominal cavity. During the early stages of pregnancy, you may not need any modifications, but the most important thing is to listen to your body and not push the limits. As your pregnancy progresses, remember to ask the instructor for modifications, so the exercise feels good for both you and baby.

Hot Exercise + Heated Classes

Another crucial thing to avoid during pregnancy is hot exercise. There is a lot of misinformation regarding hot exercise, but be wary of anyone that tells you that it is safe. Increasing your core body temperature is known as hyperthermia, and it can be extremely dangerous for pregnant women. It is especially dangerous in the first month just after conception, but hot exercise and heated classes should be avoided at all stages of pregnancy.

3
Hot Exercise + Heated Classes

Another crucial thing to avoid during pregnancy is hot exercise. There is a lot of misinformation regarding hot exercise, but be wary of anyone that tells you that it is safe. Increasing your core body temperature is known as hyperthermia, and it can be extremely dangerous for pregnant women. It is especially dangerous in the first month just after conception, but hot exercise and heated classes should be avoided at all stages of pregnancy.

Strength Training

When it comes to strength and circuit training, exercises like lunges and jumping may put excessive pressure on your belly as you get farther along in your pregnancy. Trust your body and discontinue these if they feel unsafe. Any exercises that cause you to hold your breath or could result in trauma to your belly, (for example kettlebell swings or powerlifting) I would advise against.

4
Strength Training

When it comes to strength and circuit training, exercises like lunges and jumping may put excessive pressure on your belly as you get farther along in your pregnancy. Trust your body and discontinue these if they feel unsafe. Any exercises that cause you to hold your breath or could result in trauma to your belly, (for example kettlebell swings or powerlifting) I would advise against.

Cardio

With cardio, the rule is that you should be able to continue to hold a steady conversation during exercise. For some, running may be fine up until the end of your pregnancy. Others may find this puts too much pressure on their pelvic floor. Some low-impact alternatives include walking (on both a flat surface and uphill), swimming, elliptical machine, rowing machine, and low-intensity aerobic exercise.
 

If you’re looking for exercise classes to take while pregnant, I recommend searching for something mellow on the MINDBODY app, such as restorative or gentle flow yoga, beginner Reformer Pilates, or any other light, introductory classes.
 
As a general rule, if you’re questioning whether or not something is safe to do during pregnancy, it probably isn’t. Remember that the most important thing is the safety of both you and your baby, and no form or intensity of exercise is worth sacrificing that!
 
For more information on a healthy pregnancy, including nutritious recipes and exercise ideas, check out my Predominantly Plant-Based Pregnancy Guide!

5
Cardio

With cardio, the rule is that you should be able to continue to hold a steady conversation during exercise. For some, running may be fine up until the end of your pregnancy. Others may find this puts too much pressure on their pelvic floor. Some low-impact alternatives include walking (on both a flat surface and uphill), swimming, elliptical machine, rowing machine, and low-intensity aerobic exercise.
 

If you’re looking for exercise classes to take while pregnant, I recommend searching for something mellow on the MINDBODY app, such as restorative or gentle flow yoga, beginner Reformer Pilates, or any other light, introductory classes.
 
As a general rule, if you’re questioning whether or not something is safe to do during pregnancy, it probably isn’t. Remember that the most important thing is the safety of both you and your baby, and no form or intensity of exercise is worth sacrificing that!
 
For more information on a healthy pregnancy, including nutritious recipes and exercise ideas, check out my Predominantly Plant-Based Pregnancy Guide!

Whitney English - MINDBODY
Written by
Whitney English
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
About the author
A former journalist and entertainment reporter in Los Angeles, Whitney English found her passion in wellness and nutrition. Tired of the quick fix promises she encountered in Hollywood, she became a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer, making it her mission to research health trends to help determine the best ways to eat, move, and live for long-lasting health.
shanila sattar
Wellness
Published Wednesday Mar 17, 2021 by Shanila Sattar

Foundational Steps to Cultivating a Daily Self-love Practice

Self-care
Expert Advice
Personal Growth
Wellness

When you think of self-love what do you think of? Bubble baths, walks on the beach, facemasks, or what? Self-love can mean so many different things but when we think about self-love, we have to acknowledge loving ourselves both on the outside and on the inside. The way that we show ourselves love is one of the most important things we will ever do. 

How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love?

As self-love defines and redefined itself for you over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.

 

Step 1: Learn to set boundaries

Don’t we love this one? Loving ourselves has a lot to do with the boundaries that we have for ourselves, with others, and for others. Take time to think about your own emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs when setting boundaries that reflect your personal needs. Boundaries don’t have to be big and scary; they are here to remind us that you get to have your lived experience and still have expectations about how you’d like to be treated and what you’d like to feel.

When thinking about your boundaries, ask yourself:

  • How do I feel without having boundaries?
  • What would I like to have boundaries around?
  • Are my boundaries actual boundaries or am I creating walls in my life?
  • How do I plan to uphold my boundaries?
Step 2: Cultivate self-compassion

In a world where perfectionism and curated existences have been rewarded, begin to cultivate compassion for yourself. You are a soul having a human experience and it’s totally okay if things are not perfect. 

Mindfulness exercises such as Breathwork, self-care activities, and self-compassion, all help train the mind, emotions, and even the body’s stress chemicals to be able to deal with undesired situations. Self-compassion means, can you be nice to yourself? Can you find empathy and kindness for yourself in the middle of what feels chaotic, stressful, or unwanted? Self-compassion means that we get to make mistakes, have our plans not work out the way that we wanted, and we still get to celebrate that we are doing the best that we can and it is enough.

When thinking about self-compassion, ask yourself:

  • How do I respond to stressful situations?
  • How hard am I on myself?
  • How do I celebrate myself?
  • How do I show myself kindness?
Step 3: Nourish yourself

In every sense of the word “nourishment”, begin to learn what nourishes you and what depletes you. Nourishment doesn’t just mean food for yourself; it means that whatever you are consuming whether it be media, podcasts, people, energy, information, etc. all impact the way that we think, feel, and experience life.

Nourishing yourself definitely goes right along the lines of having your boundaries intact and practicing self-compassion. 

When thinking about nourishment, ask yourself:

  • How do I nourish my emotional well-being?
  • How do I nourish my mental well-being?
  • How do I nourish my physical well-being?
  • How do I nourish my spiritual well-being?
  • How do I nourish my social well-being?
  • How do I nourish my financial well-being?

That’s it. Those are the foundational steps to cultivating a self-love practice that you can ease into your daily routine. Come back to these questions often, because like anything else, self-love is a practice and it takes effort, time, and intention to maintain. 

If you’d like to try breathwork, mindfulness, or play classes with me, check out these workshops and training sessions that work with your schedule. For other breathwork classes, browse Mindbody.

 

About the author
Shanila is a 4th generation sound healer, breathwork coach, mentor, women’s researcher, and speaker. She is the Founder of AlwaysPlayStudios where she trains breathwork facilitators and sound healers. Her background is in tech, having co-founded an award-winning web agency, and in women’s research, specifically in mindsets, implicit bias, perfectionism, women's health, and societal experiences supported through the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, and several universities. She has implemented several health and wellbeing programs in underserved populations throughout the US. Shanila mentors healers on their healing and intuitive wellness journeys. Connect: @shanila.sattar