By Eleanor Bartel
Although there are many teachers who specialize in prenatal yoga and offer specific classes for pregnant women, nearly every teacher will come across a pregnant student during their career, no matter what style of the practice they teach. Whether you want to offer specific classes for prenatalyoga or just want to be able to help any pregnant students in your regular class, learning more about yoga during pregnancy can be useful knowledge that helps you ensure every student can have a positive experience with the practice in your class, no matter what trimester they are in.
Ask About the Pregnancy
The first step for any teacher is to ask the student about their pregnancy. Some good information to have includes what trimester they are in, if it is their first pregnancy, and if there are any complications with the pregnancy. Ask the student if they have seen a doctor regarding their pregnancy and consulted a physician about doing exercise like yoga during their pregnancy. This will give you an idea of what the student can do and what modifications they might need. Remember that each woman will have different expectations and limitations. A student who is new to yoga or in their very first pregnancy may be more hesitant and apprehensive during class, while an experienced student or someone in their second or third pregnancy may be more comfortable with a variety of poses. Let the student set her own pace and offer guidance as needed.
Poses for Discomfort
As the pregnancy continues, many women start to have discomfort due to weight gain, fluid retention, and hormonal changes. Some women may have trouble sleeping, while others struggle with hip and back pain. You can help by recommending poses that ease tension in these areas. Cat/cow pose is a great way to relieve lower back tension, while bound angle pose is an excellent pose for opening up the hips, which can help a woman relieve discomfort and prepare for labor. When teaching poses for pregnant women, remember that slower is better. It is important to move through poses slowly, especially in the first trimester, to avoid injury. Instead of leading a fast paced vinyasa class or sun salutations, try a slower, more meditative class that focuses on being in tune with the body and relaxing the mind.
Some yoga poses should be modified for the student's comfort and safety during their pregnancy. This is especially true for more intense, physical poses, as well as poses that may press on a woman's expanding abdomen. For example, a pregnant woman can benefit from opening their hips more in child's pose, as this allows more room for their abdomen and also allows the hips to relax and widen further. Poses like wide-legged standing forward bend can put a lot of strain on the pelvic area, so this can be substituted with a narrower stance or even with the feet together. Chairs and props can also be used to make a pose for comfortable, especially for women in their third trimester.
Yoga during pregnancy can be a great way to relax the mind, strengthen the body, and make labor easier. It is a gentle, low-impact exercise that is a great choice for pregnant women, no matter what their fitness level may be. Through different poses, women can prepare for their pregnancy and help ease discomfort throughout each trimester. As a yoga instructor, beingknowledgeable about prenatal yoga and taking the time to learn more about pregnancy contraindications will ensure all your students can safely practice yoga and experience all the benefits of the practice in your classes.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division