Yoga is recognized for its potential to balance an individual's mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual state. Pregnant patients often ask physicians for permission to participate in yoga. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has no specific recommendations for yoga. The purpose of this study was to examine the safety of yoga in pregnancy.
Institutional review board approval was obtained. Pregnant women 18–42 years old with uncomplicated pregnancies were recruited. Patients were between 35 and 37 weeks of gestation. No yoga experience was required. A nonstress test (NST) was measured at the beginning and end of the yoga session. The participants assumed 26 yoga poses. In each posture, continuous fetal monitoring, tocometry, pulse oximetry, and vital signs were obtained. All sessions were attended by a certified yoga instructor and experienced obstetrician–gynecologist.
A total of 30 women were enrolled; five were excluded for contractions at the initial NST. Twenty-five women completed the study. All participants completed the 26 poses. There were no significant changes in vital signs during the poses. All participants had reactive NSTs before and after the session. All fetal heart tracings demonstrated accelerations and variability, and no decelerations of the fetal heart tracing were seen. No patients had regular contractions during the session. There were no falls or injuries.
No safety issues were identified. Vital signs, pulse oximetry, uterine tocometry, and fetal heart tracing remained reassuring in all patients in all postures. Yoga is a safe form of physical activity that physicians can recommend to their patients with uncomplicated pregnancies.