First Trimester of Pregnancy: Maintaining and Modifying Your Pilates and Yoga Workouts

The first trimester of pregnancy is an exciting time! Your body is going through many changes to prepare for pregnancy,pregnant woman first trimester and your baby is developing. While you may not outwardly look pregnant, you will most certainly feel pregnant.

First, let me advise that pregnancy is not a great time to begin a fitness program. It would be best to already be involved in Pilates or yoga before pregnancy. However, if you are already healthy, are cleared by your doctor, and are not too far along, you might be approved to begin. If you are looking to begin a program and are not sure whether Pilates or yoga would be best for you, my advice is that you should do yoga. Yoga encourages expansion in the belly, which will end up helping to stretch your abdominal muscles, making a tear (rectus abdominis diastasis) less likely. Plus, some yoga studios offer prenatal yoga classes. (For the record, I exclusively did Pilates while I was pregnant with my first kid and mostly did yoga with my second.)

Now, the #1 most important rule:  Be mindful and listen to your body! Every day is a new day for you, your body, and your baby. Hormone changes and baby growth will make things shift, tighten, or contract inside you. Cultivate your beginner’s perspective and approach every workout as if it is your very first, and you should be able to safely practice through your pregnancy. Let me advise, if you let your ego take control and dictate what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, an injury is almost certain. Ditch the ego; your body will thank you.


Please be conscious that the changes you could feel during pregnancy include:  sickness, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, and/or frequent urination. All of these issues should be respected and addressed if you feel them during your workout or practice. As I have mentioned, I am STOTT Pilates trained and certified, so the information below is from them.

  • Reduce deep stretches or holds.
  • Focus on stability.
  • Make sure the spine is safe by staying in neutral, and decrease your range of motion.
  • Keep exercises simple.


As your body begins preparing for pregnancy, so should you. When I was pregnant, I consulted Mark Stephen’s book Yoga Sequencing. I’ve linked up to the Amazon page for his book because it has a sample to view. (I am an Amazon Affiliate, so I make a commission if you follow this link and purchase.)

I’m using some of his information here today for you.

  • Stick with ujjayi pranayama.
  • If you were jumping in your practice, decrease or eliminate that, as you don’t want jarring movements to disturb your body.
  • Minimize twisting and, when you do twist, twist with your upper thoracic spine (think of your top part of your rib cage).
  • The baby is still very small and well protected so, at this stage, you may still lie on your belly.
  • Add poses to strengthen and open the shoulders.

Here is a nice video about 5 yoga poses you can do throughout your pregnancy.

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Pregnant ladies, how is your pregnancy going? Are you having any issues that you’d like me to address?

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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