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

third trimester pregnant womanThe third trimester of pregnancy is a time to work on harnessing your energy. Rest more and allow the flow of energy to help you move through your practice. Be mindful of how you feel as you move. With increased relaxin levels, it is more likely to have weak knees and instability in the sacroiliac (tailbone) and other joints.

First, let me advise that the third trimester of your pregnancy is not the time to begin a fitness program. You really should do Pilates or yoga if you have been doing them throughout the pregnancy. However, if you are wanting to do some component, I suggest you do some basic breathing and meditation/visualization for relaxation purposes. I suggest Yogic Breathing.

Now, for those who have already been practicing, 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.


In the third trimester, you could feel:  shortness of breath, heartburn, Braxton Hicks contractions, aches especially in the pelvis and glutes, constipation, frequent urination, varicose veins, hemroids, edema, leg cramps, and low energy. Don’t worry; you’re almost done!

The main cautions are that you should not be on your stomach (obviously), and you should avoid laying flat on your back. If you spend time flat on your back, you could develop a condition called Supine Hypertensive Syndrome, where the uterus compresses the vena cava, decreasing oxygen flow to both the mother and baby. However, if there are supine (on your back) exercises that you’re wanting to do, prop yourself up with blankets, pillows, or bolsters and keep a neutral spine.

As I have mentioned, I am STOTT Pilates trained and certified, so the information below is from them.

  • Change positions frequently.
  • Slowly transition from one exercise to the next.
  • Shorten your range of motion and your reach when you’re doing exercises such as Leg Circles or The Hundred.
  • Shorten your sessions. Two 30 minutes sessions will work better than one 60 minute session.
  • Use a pillow to support your belly.
  • Do side-lying exercises, as that position can feel comfortable.
  • Spend time on your hands and knees to release tension.
  • Squats are a great way to prepare for child birth.
  • Do ankle and foot exercises to increase circulation and mobility.
  • Focus on using your breath to control movements and help in stress reduction.


When I was pregnant, I consulted Mark Stephen’s book [easyazon_link identifier=”1583944974″ locale=”US” tag=”custpilandyog-20″]Yoga Sequencing[/easyazon_link], and that’s what I’m doing today. 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 to buy this product.)

Below are some of his tips.

  • Keep working on postural alignment to give strength to the spine.
  • Perhaps start using a chair as a support for some standing and sitting asanas.
  • Be very aware of any numbness or tingling while lying on your back, as this may be an indication of too much pressure on the vena cava. If you feel numbness or tingling, change positions!
  • After the 34th week, Down Dog and other inversions may cause (or reverse) breech presentation.
  • Do birthing visualizations while in a squat.
  • Increasingly rest in Savasana, lying on the left side of the body with props between the knees and under the head, and a blanket under the waist.

More Information

If you’re looking for first trimester or second trimester modifications, check out those links.

The Pregnancy Yoga video shown below can be found on YouTube. It is very good, and I highly recommend checking out the other episodes if you’re looking for more workouts.

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

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.