10 Things Every Teacher Should Know about Prenatal
by Kara Bumpus, New Moon Healing
and Melinda McAuliff
Since completing my first 200 hour yoga teacher training I have considered prenatal yoga as a specialty area best left to the experts. In that period of time, I've had a total of two pregnant students attend my class. The first was very self-sufficient. She was very visibly pregnant and told me ahead of class that she was comfortable doing her own modifications during class. The second came two days ago - and she asked me a question.
As a teacher, I'm accustomed to questions and love answering them as long as I have a knowledge based response to provide. In this instance .... I had nothing. She said she'd heard it was not good to do inversions (in this case Viparita Karani
) while pregnant and asked what I recommended. My response was, "go ahead and take Supta Baddha Konasana
After class I thanked her for asking me the question and told her I had not studied prenatal yoga so I was personally not sure if Viparita Karani was ok or not. But, because of her question I learned a valuable lesson. I need to get the basics on prenatal so I am prepared for those occassions when a pregnant student comes to class.
When I got home I emailed Kara Bumpus, a Rochester area teacher who specializes on this topic with specialty training in Prenatal Yoga for Conscious Birthing. She is also a HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator (HBCE), Birth Doula and owner of New Moon Healing
I asked Kara for ten things evey yoga teacher should know about prenatal yoga. Here is her reply:
Remind Mama of the hormone relaxin flowing through her body now; its effect is to soften the connective tissues. Practicing at her fullest expression of each pose may not be the best choice. Suggest she err on a more conservative side when moving through poses.
Encourage her to honor herself first! If there is something that she doesn’t want to do, let her know that is okay. Pregnancy is a time when a woman should really listen to her innate wisdom and trust that. Yoga during pregnancy is a great way to practice tuning in.
Raising the body temperature should be avoided. Honestly, she is the best evaluator of this one.
Support Mama in staying hydrated. Remind her to continue drinking off the mat.
If a woman is new to yoga, its best to stick with mild inversions such as Downward Facing Dog and Viparita Karani. If a woman had a more advanced practice of asana prior to pregnancy then she can continue practicing the poses she is comfortable doing.
Become familiar with modifications that may better suit her.
Gentle twists are okay to do. Deep twisting is simply not comfortable for a pregnant woman. It is nice to perform these classes of poses to help alleviate tension build up along the spine.
Avoid Plank pose & (obviously) any prone positions, unless supports are in place.
Gentle back bending may be a welcome relief to open the front body. Again, Mama is the best guide.
Enlist supports to ensure her comfort during relaxation, which can be done on her back (only if she is still comfortable there), resting in a side-laying position (left side-laying provides more blood flow to uterus whereas right side-laying is energetically more calming to Mama), in a supported reclined position such as Supta Baddha Konasana or any variation of Viparita Karani when determining how far she is comfortable going in each pose.
Check out the New Moon Healing Facebook page for things every mom-to-be should know
when practicing yoga.