By Paul Jerard

Lately, Prenatal Yoga classes have been catching on, within some hospitals, clinics, and Yoga studios, but there are a surprising number of Yoga teachers and students, who take risks due to a lack of awareness about potential hazards.

With what we now know about contraindications for postures during each trimester a pregnant Yoga student should not be practicing Yoga, without the guidance of a qualified Prenatal Yoga instructor. How can a Yoga teacher expect to address the needs of each student and then customize the lesson plan for a pregnant student’s particular trimester?

Pregnant students should be in a specialized Prenatal Yoga class, with a competent Prenatal Yoga teacher, and have their doctor’s permission to be in the class. Why should Yoga teachers be so cautious? As a Yoga instructor, your number one priority is student safety and you could set yourself up for a negligence lawsuit, if you do not have Prenatal Yoga teacher training.

Last year, we had a potential Yoga student, who had two previous miscarriages and wanted to practice Yoga. She had become pregnant again and decided to try Vinyasa Yoga during her first trimester. Upon asking her a few questions, it was discovered that both of her two previous miscarriages occurred during the first trimester.

Do you see any “red flags” with this situation? I hope so. Firstly, she should not think about participating in a Vinyasa style Yoga class, with her past medical history, but any jumping movements could possibly dislodge an embryo from her uterus. We did manage to place her in a Prenatal Yoga class, with her doctor’s permission, and later she did have a healthy baby.

Supervised Prenatal Yoga is a very good thing for expectant mothers, but many people are under the mistaken impression that because Hatha Yoga is a “low impact exercise class” in comparison to other forms of fitness; there is no risk.

Currently, there is some open debate as to whether a pregnant mother should be lying on her back during, and after, the second trimester. Compression on the inferior vena cava can slow the flow of blood to the uterus. Therefore, it would be prudent to use props in order to avoid conventional supine Yoga postures.

Am I too cautious? Maybe, but I would like a guarantee that the fetus is getting good blood circulation, if a pregnant Yoga student is lying in a supine asana. A few blankets, pillows, and bolsters will help insure safety in this case.

Lastly, I do not want to sound any false alarms, but it is wise for expectant mothers to seek out certified prenatal Yoga teachers and it is wise for Yoga teachers to know their “boundaries.”

When you are not sure, refer a student to a Yoga teacher who is.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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