As a certified yoga teacher, I could go on and on about the benefits of yoga. I’ve been a yogini myself for 15 years and I believe wholeheartedly in an active yoga practice. Yoga is especially beneficial during pregnancy and can help both mother and baby through the 40 weeks as well as through labor and delivery. I used yoga throughout both of my pregnancies and don’t know how I would have made it to the end without my practice! For you, here are the benefits, precautions, and a how-to for prenatal yoga.

One of the amazing things about yoga is the use of breathing. A good yoga practice involves breathing exercises and awareness. This translates effortlessly into the labor and delivery room, as it becomes a natural coping skill in a woman’s arsenal. My second delivery was an induction with Pitocin and I made it through without any pain medication in large part due to the breathing awareness and breathing control I’ve practiced repeatedly in yoga classes!

Read Related: Belly Dance Fitness For Mamis-to-Be

Practicing yoga poses is also great for increasing body awareness during pregnancy. A woman can only benefit from knowledge gained about herself and the changes that her body goes through during pregnancy. In yoga, you feel your hips open and ribcage widen and that awareness can be empowering.

As with any exercise program during pregnancy, there are some precautions to take. First of all, find a good teacher! Even if you’re already involved in the yoga community and attend classes regularly, that doesn’t mean that those yogis have a clue about practicing yoga during pregnancy. Ask friends, ask your current teachers, ask the yoga studio manager. Do not take a yoga class during pregnancy with a teacher who is not experienced in teaching pregnant women. Just don’t.

A good yoga teacher will provide you with unlimited modifications and recommendations to keep your body and your baby safe and comfy during your practice. For me, despite forward bends being perfectly safe during pregnancy, they never felt quite right. After chatting with my teacher, we modified the angle of my feet and ta-da, comfort! Some general precautions are to not lay on your back for extended periods and to roll to your left side instead of your right when getting up after lying down.

If you can’t make it into a studio, there are a couple of really great prenatal yoga workouts on DVD. I used Shiva Rea’s DVD throughout both pregnancies and enjoyed all of her modifications and the level of relaxation.

However you choose to practice yoga during pregnancy, listen to your body. The foundation of yoga is kindness to others and to yourself. This principle is crucial to remember, especially during pregnancy, when your body and your baby could both use a little nurturing. Namaste.