Spinning Babies and Yoga

altYoga for fetal positioning
Yoga practice includes repeated stretches of virtually every muscle. As muscles stretch with movement and deep breathing, so moves the fascia helping old imbalances eventually come into balance. Regular yoga will stabilize and strengthen the pelvis. Many poses must be practiced 3 or more times a week, but even weekly yoga is somewhat beneficial. I believe women with a regular practice both before and during pregnancy, with focus on stabilizing the pelvis during asanas, are likely to have well positioned babies. 

Regular and correct postures are of course important to see results. See more pictures of poses when you click "Click for yoga." Study reference follow.

Whether yoga can increase optimal fetal positioning depends on how much balance can be achieved before birth.


Clare Welter, CNM with students in her Sunday prenatal yoga class. Read about Yoga and Pregnancy

Clare's Sunday prenatal yoga class now at 1 pm:  St. Paul Yoga Center on Selby and Dunbar


Hip openers, inversions, standing poses, bridge and legs up the wall... what does all of this do for birth?

Balance in the body includes balance in the womb. Balance is the first principle of Spinning Babies.

There are several ways to achieve balance, some with body workers and some with exercises the mother does herself. Yoga can be a social or private experience for the pregnant woman to learn about her body, her focus and to develop character. Yoga is practice. 

Prenatal yoga is fun and gives you a chance to share with other expectant women. Find a good prenatal yoga DVD and keep up your practice at home.




Gail and Arleen run out of room for hip openers and have a good laugh.






Is yoga safe for pregnancy? Like with any exercise, some people insist on going from zero to 60 in 60 seconds and can easily strain a muscle. This tendency could strain a pregnant woman, too. So start slow, don't try to "look like the yoga model" on the magazine - she's been doing this for years. Pregnant women have more flexibility in joints, so move slowly into a position and try not to over extend. 

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons gives yoga the thumbs up for safe exercise in pregnancy. Click here to read "Pregnant Women May Benefit From Yoga Exercises."

So, as I was saying....

The point of stabilizing the pelvis before any stretch is to relax the large psoas (so-as) muscle pair that sweep over the pelvis and hip joint. See why the psoas is important in the Anatomy for Optimal Fetal Positioning.

Starting yoga in pregnancy for the first time is beneficial. Certain poses can stabilize the pelvis reducing pain in the pubis symphysis, reducing sciatica, hip pain and back ache.


Hi Gail-
I am ever so thankful for how your website has helped my doula clients and yoga students. alt
I look forward to your website updates. Your "3 Principles in Pregnancy" and "Rest Smart"  have really shaped the core of my yoga teaching for pregnancy, just add in a few standing postures and yoga breathing and there you have it. Hope to someday make it to one of your trainings.

 [The inversion illustration is] very helpful to show students what happens in the inversion.
Thanks for all you do, you are an inspiration!

~ Karen Prior, E-RYT, CD(DONA), LCCE, CBC  
Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga - Breastfeeding Support - Doula Services - Childbirth Education    
MAMASTE YOGA: Nurturing Mother, Nurtures the Child
                     Online:   http://www.mamasteyoga.com
                           Tel:  (405) 474-3302
                      Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Dear Karen,


Hi! You are an inspiration to me. May I use your email (the applicable portions) as a quote on a page I'm developing for Spinning Babies and Yoga?
Its about time Spinning Babies had such a page.

I'm new at yoga, about a year and a half of occasional yoga. Yoga has given me ten years of life back, meaning I feel so much younger and better.
Clare Welter, CNM is a yoga teacher and many of her mothers take her weekly prenatal class which is open to all. I do see improvement in the births of women who do yoga 2-3 times a week, overall, but not universally. Trying to work out the “whys” and “why nots” is like solving a puzzle.

I believe the forward-leaning inversion helps the lower uterine segment to untwist (from using the accelerator, etc.) But we must also release the psoas muscle pair, and balance the pelvic floor. These are the three goals to good descent in labor.

I think the leaning forward inversion off the couch or stairs is important for women with posterior or breech babies, or histories of such positions, even if they are doing downward dog. I don't think downward dog lets the uterus hang freely enough, what do you think? I learned the forward leaning inversion from Dr. Carol Phillips, DC of Dynamic Body Balancing.

Bradley instructor Karen Bruce and a pregnant friend compare downward dog (that's Karen, in purple, in the back doing the down dog) and the inversion off the couch at a Twin Cities ICAN meeting. The friend doing the forward -leaning inversion should have her chin tucked and her head free. Leaning her forehead like this  locks her fascia and cancels the benefit of the position....whoops! Karen's head is position properly.







On the left, this active variation of the cat cow pose will stabilize the pelvis, helping the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. This is a picture of Sarah Longacre's yoga class (pre-Blooma).


The pictures that follow are of more yoga poses from Clare Welter's Sunday class:



Reclining on an incline is easier on tight hips for those just learning to relax to hip opening poses. While I usually discourage leaning back in my Rest Smart positions, However, its ok to lean back for yoga practice as long as you feel ok doing so. You won't be on your back for long. This stretch is a nice warm up and helps overcome the stiffness caused by sitting too long in front of the computer.





Keep scrolling down for a lovely womens' yoga video from Angela Farmer






Tessa stabilizes her ankles with the yoga strap to do a modified bridge pose. This pose strengthens the pelvis.

Below, the Downward Dog yoga inversion. Clare helps Sally in a modified Downward Dog using a chair. The strap helps Sally identify her leg muscles and realize that she can bring more weight to her legs and bring her hips higher and further back. Its used for a moment and released.

Further down, the class goes from Triangle Pose to Half Moon.

The final four pictures show Legs Up the Wall. Clare recommends this pose to all women, citing the benefits to the thyroid gland. Daily use of Legs Up the Wall Pose helps reduce swelling (edema) of the legs in pregnancy. Its very relaxing and makes a wonderful finale to a yoga session. 

















"...came across your site a few days ago, whilst researching OFP for my Pre and Postnatal Yoga TT course.  I try to update it every few months with some statistics and info regarding C-section, labour positions, occasional products etc.  

I have added your site to my recommended web reading in the course; it's such a mine of information, and all so clearly described and illustrated - a fantastic resource.  Thank you. You're doing a great job.  BTW, when you get the designer in, make sure you keep the amazing energy and enthusiasm that radiates from your site:)
Namaste, Jane

Jane Mackarness
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mobile: 07814 149524

Thanks, Jane, for your kind words. I checked out your site and was surprised to see you in the locale of my mother's father's people!  The Devon area is so beautiful!  Yoga in Devon....that's awesome! And your website is beautiful, too!   -gail

Here's a research study on yoga which found less premature labor, fewer women with high blood pressure and other benefits of yoga in pregnancy:

Efficacy of yoga on pregnancy outcome.

Narendran S, Nagarathna R, Narendran V, Gunasheela S, Nagendra HR.

Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (sVYASA), Vivekananda Yoga. Research Foundation, Bangalore, India. J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Apr;11(2):237-44

Angela Farmer's lovely perspective on Yoga for Women. I love this! Yummy! "Living in every part!"

Though I think sometimes the Patriarch is too much within, not without, and Angela notes this in her way, but that is besides the point. In fact, this movement is without point, but rather with Flow. Stay with the film and she begins to share her wisdom, observations, experiences and humilty on the feminine state of being with self and with yoga.