Why You Won’t Find Deep Squats In Our Online Prenatal Yoga ProgramsJun 14, 2023
You may have seen various prenatal yoga videos on YouTube, or even attended prenatal classes, where you’re encouraged to practice deep squats (those where your hips are below your knees).
Why are these squats encouraged? It can be a good way to prepare for birth. Deep squats can assist in releasing tight hips & encouraging that downward flow of energy needed for the baby’s arrival. It can also be an excellent active birthing position, putting the baby in an ideal place, and making your delivery easier.
However, you will NOT find deep squats in any of our prenatal yoga workouts
A common question I get asked is why not? Especially when so many other instructors are teaching them.
In short, they are not safe for everyone during pregnancy. Don’t get me wrong – I regularly teach deep squats with many of my private clients one-to-one as they’re great for certain people. But in a group or online class, it’s not possible to know exactly what’s going on for each individual.
Below I have listed some common conditions for which deep squats are contraindicated
After 34 weeks, if your baby is in a breech position (feet down instead of head down), deep squats are not recommended. This encourages engagement in this position from the downward pressure & energy deep squats create, making it very unlikely the baby will still be able to turn. Breech position babies are around 85% likely to be born via caesarean.
This is one of the most serious conditions we need to take care of during pregnancy. Sometimes called a cervical insufficiency, this is where weak cervical tissue shortens the cervix length & can lead to premature birth, or the loss of an otherwise healthy pregnancy. Deep squatting increases the weight & pressure on the pelvic floor muscles & cervix. Most women with this condition will be on either bed rest or modified bed rest, but there is still the possibility of being unaware in some cases if the woman has not been diagnosed. Prenatal exercise (including prenatal yoga) is not advised.
A serious condition where the placenta is sitting low in the uterus & either partially or completely covering the cervix. It can cause severe bleeding throughout pregnancy. Weight & downward pressure on the cervix from deep squats can increase the likelihood of hemorrhaging. Again this is a condition where exercise, in general, will be contraindicated.
Separated symphysis pubis or symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD)
A very painful but fairly common condition where the ligaments of the pelvis have stretched too far beyond their range, making the pelvic bones very unstable. This can cause pain & difficulty walking, standing & turning in bed. A deep squat is an end-range position & for some women, it will lead to further instability & discomfort.
Sacroiliac joint (SIJ) disfunction
Another common problem in pregnancy where there is the improper movement of the joints that connect the pelvis to the spine. This can cause severe lower back pain & inflammation of those joints. Similar to SPD, we want to work on stability with this issue, rather than pushing into an end-range position like a deep squat.
Some women do not have access to regular ultrasounds, and we need to keep in mind that conditions can change as the pregnancy progresses. So unless I know a client has been seeing her doctor regularly & has no signs of the above conditions, it’s best to be on the safe side & avoid deep squatting in prenatal yoga altogether.
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