Is Bikram Yoga Safe during Pregnancy?

Bikram yoga is a variation of regular yoga where the routine is conducted in a heated room, which can be as hot as 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Yoga itself is a fairly safe exercise for pregnant women, since the activity is very low impact. There are conflicting views, however, on whether or not Bikram yoga is safe during pregnancy because of the extreme heat. Below is a look at both sides of this controversy:

Is BikramYoga Safe during Pregnancy?

There have been reports suggesting that Bikram yoga has benefits throughout a pregnancy, labor and childbirth. Some women who practiced Bikram yoga claim that they actually felt better, stronger and healthier during their pregnancy. They reported fewer complications, and had a shorter and uneventful labor. The changes that pregnancy and childbirth bring to a woman’s body has apparently been easier to deal with for some women who continued to practice Bikram yoga throughout their pregnancy.

These studies also suggest that Bikram yoga is safer during pregnancy if the woman has already been practicing it prior to being pregnant, thus making her more familiar and capable of conducting these exercises. As the pregnancy progresses, modifications to certain poses will have to be made to accommodate the increase in belly size and blood volume. Some doctors suggest waiting until a woman begins her second trimester before starting a Bikram yoga regimen, although the modified poses should probably be conducted right from the beginning of pregnancy.

It is true that doctors warn pregnant women to stay away from hot tubs or saunas because of the risk of dangerously increasing the inner core temperature, which can be dangerous for the baby. Advocates for Bikram yoga, however, claim that the inner body temperature rises very little during a Bikram yoga class because of all the sweating and extensive use of fans in the classroom. Staying well hydrated is also a vital component of this exercise.

The Possible Dangers of BikramYoga during Pregnancy

Although there are conflicting arguments about the safety of practicing Bikram yoga during pregnancy, most doctors and medical practitioners will probably advise against it. This is simply because of the dangers associated with very high inner body temperatures in a pregnant woman. Studies have suggested that unusually high core temperatures are associated with birth defects and injury, which is why pregnant women are generally advised to avoid saunas and hot baths.

Since Bikram yoga has the potential to increase the maternal body temperature, many doctors will advise against its practice throughout pregnancy. The baby’s body temperature is actually slightly higher than the mother’s. Since the baby has no sweating capabilities yet, a spike in the mother’s core temperature will directly increase the baby’s temperature. Many women will already be feeling warmer than usual during their pregnancy because their body temperature is already raised slightly. This can make practicing Bikram yoga in a hot room quite uncomfortable.

It is important to consider all factors prior to engaging in any exercise routine while pregnant. If you choose to participate in Bikram yoga, do so only under the supervision of a medical practitioner, and monitor your core temperature by regularly measuring it throughout your Bikram yoga routine.


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