Prenatal Yoga Class by Sue FullerPre Natal Pranayamas by Sue Fuller

Yoga breathing techniques or Pranayamas performed during pregnancy can bring many benefits during your pregnancy, birth and beyond.   

A regular pranayama practice will reduce stress and tension, encourage a healthy sleep pattern, increase oxygen levels and help you remain calm and focussed during difficult situations.  

Pranayamas can be practiced throughout your entire pregnancy and also during labour.   Pranayamas can help to manage pain and clear and focus the mind.  It is also believed that by practicing pranayamas it could dramatically help to lower the risk of post natal depression.

When practicing yogic breathing during pregnancy, focus on expansion through the rib cage and avoid breathing beneath the naval.

Do not include breath retention exercises.

Ujjayi (The Breath of Tranquility)

Begin sitting comfortably with a straight spine.  Rest the backs of the wrists on the knees or position hands in any chosen mudra (gesture).  Become aware of the sensation of the breath entering and leaving the body through the nostrils, and then eventually move the awareness to the throat.   Allow the breath to vibrate as it passes across the vocal chords so that you create a soft snoring sound in your throat, bring your awareness to the sound created.

Ujjayi breathing can help to lower blood pressure.  Ujjayi is often referred to as the breath of tranquility this is because it helps to quiet and still the mind.

Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

Begin sitting comfortably with a straight spine.  Roll the first two fingers on your right hand down into your palm.    You will use the right thumb to close the right nostril and the right ring finger to close your left nostril.

Close your right nostril and inhale through the left, then close the left nostril and exhale through the right, now inhale through right, exhale left, inhale left, exhale right and so the exercise continues finishing with an exhale through the left nostril.

This breathing technique is often practised with breath retentions this is not to be done during pregnancy, maintain a smooth steady flow of breath through alternate nostrils.  This is a beautiful calming breathing practice that will help to balance emotions and calm an anxious mind. 

Sheetali (The Cooling Breath)

Begin in a comfortable seated position with a straight spine, stick out your tongue and curl up the edges, inhale slowly allowing air to pass through the tongue.  As the exhale occurs relax and retract the tongue and exhale through the nose.  If you are unable to curl the tongue then just create an ‘O’ shape with the mouth and practice the technique like this instead.

This breath may help you remain centred in between contractions during labour; it will also help restore lost energy.

The cooling breath does exactly what you would expect it to do, whilst practicing this breathing technique you will find that the inside of your mouth feels cooler.

Always consult your GP or midwife before commencing any new activity during pregnancy.

Prenatal Relaxations Audio Yoga ClassSue Fuller is a leading yoga teacher with a range of over 60 audio yoga classes, including a selection of pre and post natal Yoga classes.  All yoga classes are available on CD or as a MP3 download from  or from   Classes are easy-to-follow and suitable for all levels of yoga experience.

Sue Fuller is also the author of The British School of Yoga Pre and Post Natal Yoga Teachers Course, The resident yoga expert for Natural Health Magazine UK and a mother of two.