Whether you're an experienced yogi or you've never set foot in a studio, practicing yoga while you're pregnant is a great way to get exercise and stay in touch with your changing body. "You're not broken, just pregnant," says Jen Oppenheimer, a prenatal yoga instructor at New York Sports Club in Manhattan. "There are very few yoga poses that are off-limits during pregnancy."
There are some guidelines to remember, however, when it comes to getting your om on with an ever-growing belly, along with issues like back pain, hormone fluctuations, and all-over weight gain. It's important to listen to your body, and to let your instructor know about any pain or discomfort you're feeling -- both on the mat and outside of class. He or she can suggest modifications to traditional poses, or completely new poses, that may help provide relief.
"In prenatal yoga classes, moms-to-be focus on the breath and body connection, and they learn techniques to take with them that they can practice at home, or even at work, to help alleviate some of the pressure and tension they experience in their bodies and in their minds," says Oppenheimer.
Start with a yoga class or DVD specifically for pregnant women -- or talk to your instructor about how you should modify a regular yoga class. (Avoid Bikram or "hot yoga" classes, or anything that seems more strenuous than you're used to.) To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, keep the following tips in mind, as well.