Teaching prenatal yoga should be a cherished skill in society. Pregnant women are forced to give up so much during those nine months–skinny jeans, multiple cups of coffee a day, sushi and lunch meat–and prenatal yoga can give them so much during their time of selfless sacrifices. A good yoga teacher can calm a pregnant woman’s anxious mind, relax her aching body, and give her the tools she needs for a successful labor and delivery. From an instructor’s point of view, it’s important to support their students’ changing bodies and remind them that prenatal yoga is a time to focus on strength and stability rather than flexibility because of their loosening joints and their need to support a burgeoning body.
Making Room for Baby
Like other things in pregnancy, many poses begin to feel uncomfortable. It’s important for teachers and the gestating mamas to remember to set an intention to make room for baby during their practice. Instructors should keep this phrase in mind when they offer their students pose variations or alternatives. Whether it’s a specific prenatal class or a regular class, everybody is different, and while one woman might find it comfortable to perform a standing forward bend with two blocks, another student might find a forward bend completely out of the question.
Teachers should skip the “closed” twist asanas and instead offer their pregnant students “open” twists. A closed twist is basically an asymmetrical twist, while an open twist means they’re twisting their body in the same direction as the rest of their body. Belly compression poses should be avoided completely. The instructor should offer alternatives to poses like locust and cobra with poses like cow pose or opposite arm/leg extensions.
Don’t Insist There Is One Way to Do Shavasana
Most students insist they come to class for the final pose: corpse pose, or Shavasana. However, there’s conflicting information about how safe a supine Shavasana is for a pregnant woman. Many woman are told to avoid lying flat on their back, both in and out of their yoga class. Doctors and experienced yoga instructors agree that in regards to being in a yoga class, a supine Shavasana is completely dependent on the student. Some pregnant woman are fine lying on their backs; others may find this pose unbearable.
At the end of class, the instructor should offer variations of corpse pose. Like any other asana, there are plenty of variations that still allow them the benefits of the pose. Laying on her left side is a viable alternative, as is a seated meditation with a cushion or block for lower back support. An inclined corpse can be quite comfortable, too, where the student will elevate the end of her bolster with a block and then lie on top of the bolster with her bottom on the floor, placing her head above her heart. A rolled blanket or another bolster under her knees can give her extra lower back support.
Teaching prenatal yoga helps pregnant women support their new bodies and prepares them for the arduous ordeal of delivering their new babies. With nine months of peaceful and strengthening yoga classes, the pregnant woman becomes strong and empowered thanks to the guidance of her yoga instructor.