Teaching yoga to pregnant students

We need to start taking responsibility.

As yoga teachers, we can not the responsibility for our students’ bodies. But we can take responsibility for what we share, what we encourage and how we deliver in our yoga classes.

We can give modifications, props and alternatives when we have students who would benefit from that. We can’t make them do it. But we can encourage. We can also refuse to teach them if we feel their practice is unsafe. We can give a polite no when we feel we don’t have enough knowledge, experience or training in what they are going through. We can refer to a different class when ours is inappropriate for what they need at this time.

Is it OK to continue your practice whilst pregnant?

A common question on yoga teachers’ Facebook groups is what not to do/or to do when a pregnant woman wants to join the class (and they are not a qualified/trained prenatal yoga teacher). The answers differ: don’t lie on the front, don’t lie on the back, don’t twist… to the “I did hot power yoga and drop-backs through my 4 pregnancies and I’m fine”.

That’s not education. It’s not an answer because we need to know the whys:

 Why shouldn’t a pregnant person twist? Or can we modify and it’s ok? Why is it fine for some to do strong vinyasa flow yoga practices through their pregnancies but may not be appropriate for others?

Many of the don’ts are myths and scaremongering. But many also hold some truths. If we invite a pregnant yogini into our yoga class we need to know the difference. That is our responsibility.

What should yoga teachers know about teaching pregnant yoga students?

It is our responsibility to know the red flags and when to refer to a specialist class, if they should get checked by their gp, midwife or physiotherapist. When some yoga practises might aggravate certain conditions, aches, pains, instabilities and how our yoga may affect the baby’s positioning, the woman’s pelvic floor, pelvic girdle, cervix and her joints.

If we hold that yoga space for a pregnant woman we have a certain responsibility.

Remember most people have very little knowledge about anatomy and physiology – let alone in pregnancy and in yoga.

Although we may wish we all took responsibility for our own bodies we simply don’t. We take it for granted. Our pregnant yoga friends may feel changes or have a pregnancy app or book – but they are not yoga teachers and they are not pregnancy yoga teachers (most aren’t anyway!). So if they come into our yoga space we need to get educated.

Our training and continuous education in prenatal yoga

Before I delved into the world of pregnancy and perinatal yoga education, pelvic floor and doula training I knew very little. I needed and wanted to get educated so I could be confident and comfortable teaching pregnant women. Whether in my regular flow class, one-to-ones or specialist pregnancy yoga classes. And I do not regret it. The female anatomy and physiology are incredible and there is so much to learn and explore. Everybody, every pregnancy and every postnatal period are different.

As yoga teachers, I urge you to get educated before accepting pregnant yoginis into your class.

Pregnant people are not ill, it’s not a disease but their body, hormones, blood volume, ligaments and joints change. They are growing a new baby/babies and a new organ – the placenta. And their yoga practice needs to support these changes.

On that note, I am delighted to once again offer a Pregnancy Yoga Teacher Training for yoga teachers. I am sharing my knowledge from all the pregnancy-related yoga trainings, doula, massage, pelvic floor educations and Ayurveda I have learned over the years. From having already co-created, taught and been the course leader for several years on Pregnancy & Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training courses. Teaching pregnancy yoga with too-many-to-count pregnant and postpartum students.

This course will take place over two weekends and you will learn how to teach pregnant yoginis yoga, you will understand why we modify and have variations and alternatives. Explore different practices specifically supporting the pregnant body, mind and emotions. We’ll embrace the yogic and ayurvedic philosophy. You can join regardless of your “yoga style” and feel ready to teach pregnancy yoga classes.

I am looking forward to welcoming you to the course which is accredited by Yoga professionals. I currently have one scheduled and if you want a training near you, have a group of teachers who want to learn or interested in other dates please let me know. You can see the current course details here.