teaching prenatal yogaBy Jenny Park 

Many prospective students are pregnant. Some of them read about the benefits of prenatal yoga or they hear about it from their friends. However, students who are pregnant and new to yoga training should have their doctor’s approval. Additionally, pregnant students should attend classes taught by an instructor who is a graduate of a prenatal yoga teacher training course.

When a woman finds out she is pregnant, the last thing she may be thinking about is exercise. Many don’t realize that practicing yoga during pregnancy can help with labor, and help them recover and get back into shape faster. Of course, there are limits for pregnant women as well, and safety always comes first. 

Benefits to Pregnancy and Labor 

Yoga helps anyone calm their mind, and learn special breathing techniques that could be beneficial during labor. It will definitely help them handle stress and prepare their body for what it is about to go through. Pregnant women should practice a smooth moving and relaxing type yoga, such as Hatha. They should be focusing on staying relaxed, and meditating. After baby is born, yoga can help mother ease back into a workout routine and get back her pre-pregnancy body.


It is extra crucial that pregnant women don’t practice any asanas that strain their back. If an instructor suspects that a student may be pregnant, they should ask before beginning if anyone is expecting. This way there is no danger of singling anyone out. Not only is the back subject to enough strain due to the changes taking place in her body, but pressure on the back can cut off blood flow to the uterus. They should also avoid Hot Yoga as the heat has been proven to possibly do harm to the unborn child. A the pregnant yoga student moves into the second three months of the pregnancy, she should use a chair or wall for support as her growing tummy is bound to throw off her balance. The following are excellent poses for pregnant women.

• Triangle Pose

• Butterfly

• Cat and Cow Stretch

• Squatting Pose

• Standing Forward Fold

• Pigeon

• Warrior II

• Sun Salutation

Avoid overdoing it; during pregnancy the body produces a hormone called Relaxin that softens joints to accommodate for baby. Relaxin can cause one to overstretch joints. Deep twists are also no good, mainly because of the discomfort they can cause. Again, use the wall and chairs as much as needed to avoid injury. Make sure the student’s OBGYN knows they are practicing yoga so they can advise throughout the entire pregnancy on positions to avoid as well.

Side Notes for Instructors

Generally speaking, the typical certified prenatal instructor has a foundational 200-hour yoga teacher certification and a specialist prenatal certification, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 to 100 hours of additional training. When you consider teaching students, the safety of each student, and potential liability, you should only teach students what you are qualified to teach or refer them to a specialist. There are three trimesters to consider, contraindications related to each trimester, and most prenatal yoga instructor courses include some postnatal training.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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