Pregnancy Yoga: Everything About Inversions

By Dr. Nutan Pakhare

Pregnancy yoga is a beautiful practice that supports expecting mothers’ physical and emotional well-being. Among the various yoga poses, inversions are particularly intriguing and sometimes controversial. This article explores everything you need to know about inversions during pregnancy, including safety guidelines, benefits, and the surrounding controversy.

What are Inversions in Yoga?

Inversions are yoga poses where the heart is positioned above the head. These poses, such as Downward Dog and Legs Up the Wall, are staples in many yoga practices. They range from gentle poses to advanced postures like headstands and shoulder stands. Inversions are known for improving circulation, enhancing balance, and providing a unique perspective.

Downward dog yoga inversion

Benefits of Inversions


Inversions offer numerous benefits:

– Physical: They improve circulation, reduce swelling, and alleviate back pain by decompressing the spine. During pregnancy, these benefits can contribute to overall comfort and well-being.
– Mental: Inversions can reduce stress, enhance mood, and promote relaxation. The gentle inversion poses often recommended during pregnancy can help calm the nervous system and improve sleep quality.

Safety Considerations


Practicing yoga during pregnancy requires mindfulness and caution. When it comes to inversions, it’s crucial to follow these safety guidelines:

– Consult with a Healthcare Provider: Before attempting any inversion, getting clearance from your healthcare provider is important. This ensures that you are physically ready and that inversions won’t interfere with your pregnancy.
– Avoid if Dizzy or Unstable: Inversions can sometimes cause dizziness, particularly during pregnancy when blood pressure can fluctuate. If you feel dizzy or unstable, avoid inversion poses.
– Use Props and Supports: To ensure safety and stability, use yoga props such as blocks, bolsters, and walls. These supports can help you maintain proper alignment and prevent falls.

Recommended Inversions for Pregnancy


Some inversion poses are safe and beneficial during pregnancy:

– Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana): This gentle inversion stretches the back and legs, relieving tension and promoting circulation. It’s a great way to reduce back pain and build strength in the arms and shoulders.
– Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani): This restorative pose helps reduce swelling in the legs and feet, a common issue during pregnancy. It also promotes relaxation and can help ease anxiety.
– Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana): An excellent pose for opening the chest and strengthening the back. It also helps improve circulation and can be modified using a block under the sacrum for added support.

Depending on your trimester, each pose can be modified for comfort and safety. Props and slow, controlled movements are key to practicing these poses safely.

Step-Wise Transitions and Modifications for Inversions


Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

1. Starting Position: Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Please ensure your wrists are aligned under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
2. Transition: Exhale and lift your knees off the floor, extending your hips up and back to straighten your legs. Press your heels towards the floor.
3. Modification: If you feel any strain, keep a slight bend in your knees and focus on lengthening your spine. If wrist pressure is uncomfortable, use a bolster under your hands.

Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
1. Starting Position: Sit sideways against a wall, with one hip touching the wall.
2. Transition: Lie down on your back and swing your legs up the wall, adjusting your body so that your buttocks are as close to the wall as comfortable.
3. Modification: Place a bolster or folded blanket under your hips for added support. If it feels more comfortable, keep your knees slightly bent.

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
1. Starting Position: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Place your arms alongside your body, palms down.
2. Transition: Press your feet into the floor as you lift your hips towards the ceiling, rolling your spine off the floor.
3. Modification: If maintaining the lift is challenging, place a block under your sacrum for support. This transforms the pose into a more restorative version.

Inversions to Avoid During Pregnancy


Specific inversions are best avoided due to the risk they pose:

– Headstands (Sirsasana) and Handstands (Adho Mukha Vrksasana): These advanced risk falling and should be skipped. The potential for injury is too high, especially as your centre of gravity shifts during pregnancy.
– Shoulder Stands (Sarvangasana): These can place unnecessary pressure on the neck and spine. During pregnancy, the added weight and changes in your body can make these poses particularly risky.

Who Should Strictly Avoid Inversions?


Inversions should be strictly avoided by:

– High-Risk Pregnancies: Women with a history of miscarriages, preterm labour, or other complications should avoid inversions to prevent any undue strain or risk.
– Placenta Previa: This condition, where the placenta covers the cervix, can be exacerbated by inversion poses.
– High Blood Pressure: Inversions can affect blood pressure and should be avoided if you have pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia.
– Unstable Joints: Pregnancy hormones can loosen joints, making some inversion poses unsafe.

For these individuals, the risks of inversions outweigh the potential benefits, and it is best to focus on other safe and supportive yoga practices.

Controversy Surrounding Inversions During Pregnancy


Inversions during pregnancy have sparked considerable debate within the yoga community and among healthcare professionals. Critics argue that the potential risks, such as falls and blood pressure fluctuations, outweigh the benefits. Supporters contend that inversions can be safely practised with proper modifications and guidance and provide significant benefits.

Celebrity endorsements and social media posts often add fuel to this controversy. For instance, photos of actress Anushka Sharma performing advanced yoga poses, including inversions, during her pregnancy went viral and sparked mixed reactions. However, it is individual practices and individual suggestion instead of blindly following practices, it is better to take expert guidance and then do it..

Expert Tips for Practicing Inversions Safely

– Use Props:
Blocks, bolsters, and walls provide additional support. Props can help you maintain balance and proper alignment, reducing the risk of injury.

– Listen to Your Body: Modify or skip poses if you feel discomfort. Pay attention to how your body responds, and avoid pushing yourself too hard.

– Seek Guidance: Consider taking prenatal yoga classes with experienced instructors who can provide personalized advice. An instructor trained in prenatal yoga can help you navigate the practice safely.


Inversions can be a beneficial part of pregnancy yoga when practiced with care. By understanding the safe poses, potential risks, and modifications, you can enjoy the benefits of inversions while ensuring your and your baby’s safety. Always prioritise listening to your body and consult with healthcare providers as needed. For more guidance, consider joining prenatal yoga classes and exploring further resources on pregnancy yoga.

Practising yoga during pregnancy is a journey of connecting with your body and your baby. Incorporating safe inversion practices can enhance your well-being and help you experience a more comfortable and mindful pregnancy.