Is Hot Yoga Safe During Pregnancy?

by Shannon Evans

In recent years, hot yoga has been a trend catching fire. While the workout has its fair share of critics, those loyal to this particular practice of the Eastern exercise swear by its benefits, both physical and mental. With it being a discipline wildly popular among women of childbearing age, plenty of people are asking, "is hot yoga safe during pregnancy?" And it turns out, it's pretty controversial.

Sarah Winward, founder of Your Downtown Doula in Toronto, recommends avoiding hot yoga for her pregnant clients and emphasizes that it's particularly important to avoid it in the first trimester. In an interview with Romper, Winward explains, "Spending time in a hot room increases women’s core body temperature — this increases the risk of neural tube defects and other malformations. In the first trimester, blood vessels relax to prepare for the increase in blood volume that come with a growing baby and this means that women are more likely to have low blood pressure, which puts them at increased risk of dizziness and fainting."

So does that mean after you pass the first trimester you're good to go? Don't grab that yoga mat just yet. Winward tells Romper that later in pregnancy, the hormone relaxin causes joints and ligaments to relax in preparation for birth. Sounds great for yoga, right? The problem is, hot yoga rooms have the same effect, so the combination of the two puts women at risk for injury.

The acclaimed yoga website Yoganonymous, on the other hand, reported differently. According to a piece written by Lana Vogestad, hot yoga may be an acceptable exercise for some pregnant women. Vogestad wrote that women who already had a hot yoga practice prior to conception, know how to use appropriate modifications, and are careful to stay hydrated can continue to undertake this workout. She seems to agree with Winward that skipping the first trimester is the safest way to avoid risk, but has maintained in her article that hot yoga is a healthy choice for the rest of pregnancy.

As with all important choices during pregnancy, talk to your doctor about what's right for you and work together to come up with a prenatal fitness plan. And if you do decide to drop your hot yoga dreams for awhile, look on the bright side: If you're like most pregnant women, you've got enough sweat to deal with as it is.