The journey of pregnancy is one that’s different for everyone.

It can be exciting, terrifying, stressful, and even blissful — sometimes all at once. It’s not only a unique experience for every person, but each pregnancy itself has different aspects to it. Whether you’ve given birth before or this is your first child, it can be a little difficult to anticipate and plan for the mental, emotional, and physical changes coming your way. Perhaps that’s a big reason why prenatal yoga is recommended to so many expectant mothers.

The fact is, prenatal yoga is an excellent physical activity for women who are expecting. Today, we’re going to share a few tips for practicing yoga safely and healthily while you’re in your first trimester. Keep in mind that these tips are not meant to be taken in the stead of medical advice. With any pregnancy, communication between you and your health professionals is key. Let your doctor know that you’re looking to practice yoga. Conversely, if you take classes, be sure to inform your instructor that you’re pregnant.

Eight Tips For Prenatal Yoga

#1. When you’re setting up your mat, it’s not a bad idea to pick a spot near the door. Morning sickness can hit very quickly and unexpectedly. It can also last the whole day, which is why putting your stuff near the exit can make things easier.

#2. As you probably know, pregnancy boosts your metabolic rate and blood flow, meaning that it’s very easy to feel warmer than usual or get overheated. Because of that, it’s wise to avoid hot classes, especially since the excess heat can potentially cause issues with fetal development. Along similar lines, consider bringing along a portable fan to cool you off if you start feeling too warm.

#3. Try to avoid breath work like bhastrika (bellow’s breath) and kumbhaka (breath retention), since these can increase internal heat.

#4. Make it a point to always have a water bottle close by so that you can avoid dehydration.

#5. Prior to becoming pregnant, you may have pushed yourself fairly hard in terms of positions. Now, cut yourself a little slack and rest in either child’s pose or whatever seated position feels comfortable to you.

#6. During your pregnancy, a wise move is to avoid closed-twist poses, since they can squash your uterine area. A good substitution is to twist away from your bent leg instead of towards it. Try focusing on twisting the upper back and shoulders instead of the torso. Other poses can compress the uterine area, so be sure to ask your instructor first before attempting. If you’re practicing on your own, don’t try risky poses, just play it safe.

#7. When it comes to trying vertical inversions like headstands or handstands, please be careful. Some yoga schools recommend avoiding them to negate the risk of falling. Others are okay with inversions if you’re experienced with them, but it’s wise to either have a friend nearby or a wall for physical support.

#8. During the early stages of pregnancy, the hormone Relaxin is released in larger amounts to help loosen up and relax joints and muscles around the pelvis prior to birth. You might be a little tempted to take advantage of this and try stretching more than usual, but we advise against it. You run the risk of injuring your joints by hyperextending them, so it’s better to stick to your normal range of movement.