Dear Fitness Expert,
Hi. I have been doing Bikram Hot Yoga for several years now, 5-6 days a week. I am concerned about continuing as just found out I'm pregnant (1 month) and I read so many things about not raising your core temperature. However, there are gals doing hot yoga that are pregnant and others at the studio that say they wouldn't do it.
My MD doesn't really seem to have an answer -- yes or no. Do you have any more insight or knowledge on this subject with all of your years of being an athlete or friends that may do Bikram Hot Yoga and know?
It all comes down to inner core temperature. Sadly, many physicians are still unfamiliar with the workings of the pregnant body. Simply put, your baby's body temperature is one degree Celsius higher than yours. But remember, your baby has no mechanism to sweat so as your body heats up, so, too, does baby. Elite athletes have trained intensely (and safely) with the understanding that the inner core temperature should not exceed 101 degree F while pregnant. Of course, staying hydrated is also a must.
How to do this?
So many people have asked over the years, "Yes, but can't you just tell how hot you are by the way you sweat or feel?"
Not always and, in turn, I ask, "Are you willing to take the risk?" Of course not. Instead, you can periodically stop what you are doing, run to the bathroom and take your inner core temp with a rectal thermometer. I know it sounds unpleasant but it is the best way to see how you and baby are doing in terms of heat.
First, however, you must be sure your own OB/GYN is on board with what you are doing and understands the heat, stretching, level of difficulty involved. Because we do not know your medical history -- although you sound like you are doing wonderfully -- we ask that you speak to your physician first and be cleared medically to exercise while pregnant.
As a final note, most of the Olympians I spoke with have cautioned against working in the 'sauna like atmosphere. While your personal comfort and inner core temperature are the most important issues, it is wise to create the least stressful exercise environment possible. Perhaps a temporary yoga class could work for your during the rest of your pregnancy.
Good luck. Do let us know how you do.
Alexandra Allred is a former member of the US Women's Bobsled team, is an accomplished martial artist, and continues to teach kickboxing while juggling her career as a full-time writer and mother of three. She has interviewed hundreds of athletes, models, actresses, trainers, doctors, and health/fitness experts as she sought to find answers to her own questions about working out while pregnant, arranging breast-feeding around a training schedule, diet when pregnant and breastfeeding, and encouraging her whole family.
Alex is the author of ten books, including Atta Girl! A Celebration of Women in Sports and Entering the Mother Zone: Balancing Self, Health & Family. We're excited to have her on board!