Practicing & Teaching Pre-Natal Yoga
March 16-19, 2017
Every public yoga teacher is prenatal yoga teacher. If you teach public yoga classes, you will have pregnant students in your classes. This workshop is designed to give you a basic foundation for safely practicing and teaching both pre- and post-natal yoga.
Yoga can be a wonderful practice when pregnant, a source of continued health, balanced energy and more subtle bodily awareness as body and baby change day-to-day. It's also great preparation for giving birth and reintegrating the body when in the glowing presence a newborn baby. Whether you're pregnant or a teacher with either pregnant students or new moms, it's essential to practice or teach in a way that is informed by knowing what to do and not do during each trimester, after one’s baby is born, when lactating and under a variety of maternal conditions.
Specific topics include:
• Basic maternal anatomy and physiology for yoga teachers and pregnant students.
• Asana guidelines for each trimester of pregnancy, labor, post-natal reintegration, and various special pre-natal conditions.
• Adaptations and contraindications for a variety of asana and pranayama (breathing) techniques.
• What to expect and how to support emotional changes.
• Creative use of yoga props and hands-on adjustments to ensure safety and support.
• Pelvic floor exercises designed to ease delivery and recovery;
• Breathing and relaxation techniques designed to create more comfort during pregnancy, labor and early mothering.
Maternal Anatomy & Physiology
How is the female pelvis structured to accommodate reproduction? What are the essential features of the pelvis? How do they vary in different women, and how does this matter in pregnancy and delivery? How do the muscles in the pelvis function before, during and after pregnancy? What is the special condition of the perineum in pregnancy, when is it at risk and how can that risk be reduced? How are the lower pelvic organs related and how does their interrelation affect pregnancy and delivery? What about the role of the abdominal muscles and diaphragm?
Guidelines for Asanas
What yoga poses - and other forms of exercise - are beneficial or possibly risky during pregnancy and in the early postpartum period (and during extended periods of lactation)? What overall practice would you recommend to your pregnant students, and how might this vary depending on their conditions and experience in yoga? What poses are indicated and contra-indicated in each trimester? How do these prescriptions vary depending on the unique woman and specific conditions such as age, number of pregnancies and other factors?
Adaptive Yoga Practice
Just as every body is different, so is every woman's experience of pregnancy. While there are a lot of common experiences, it's important to acknowledge and support the unique ways that women feel when pregnant and with their new baby. While some women remain very physically active all the way until their due date, others might be on bed rest. In each trimester as well as with different physical conditions, it's important to offer modifications that make the asana practice safer and more accessible, creatively adapting poses and breathing techniques to each woman's needs. Here we will look closely at these modifications, including a variety of creative uses of props.
Pregnancy and childbirth can be among the most emotionally intense times in one's life. It's important to be attentive to shifts in feeling and to honoring those feelings as part of the larger process of change that is happening. Learn how as a yoga teacher you can create a supportive space for pregnant and postpartum students in your classes, that making it easier for them to relax and find the most joy along their path.
Here we will explore a variety of meditation, visualization, breathing and postural practices for cultivating emotional balance amidst the dramatic experience of pregnancy, delivery and post-partum life.
Skillful, sensitive, appropriate touch and verbal cues can guide and support your pregnant students to a more conscious awareness and self-refinement in their pre/post-natal yoga practice. But before we touch and speak we must first see and understand the unique qualities present in an individual student's practice. This requires keen observation skills and an understanding of hands-on cues that address common risks and encourage deeper inner guidance in a variety of poses.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
In traditional Hatha yoga, we have a practice called "mula bandha" that tones the lower pelvic muscles and stimulates the awakening of uplifting energy at the root the spine. We can usefully build on mula bandha techniques to explore a variety of other pelvic floor exercises that have many benefits, including a stronger and more flexible set of perineal muscles, more subtle awareness of the lower pelvic organs and their surrounding support structure, much greater ease in the delivery process and reduction of a variety of physical risks that often naturally arise in pregnancy.
Breathing, Relaxation & Delivery
Conscious breathing - pranayama - is at the heart of yoga. The ancient methods of pranayama offer many benefits during and after pregnancy, including more balanced energy (higher or lower as the need arises), deeper relaxation, less anxiety and more nuanced awareness of what's happening in the body throughout pregnancy, delivery and and beyond. Yet many pranayama techniques can be problematic during and after pregnancy. Learn when and how to guide your pregnant students in their breathing practices, and how to apply pranayama for easier delivery.
What to Expect:
Thursday, March 16th
The first day is foundational and practical. We will begin with a general overview of pre/post-natal yoga, looking briefly at the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual benefits of practicing yoga when pregnant or a new mother.
Then we will focus on maternal anatomy and physiology, looking at the physical structure and musculature of the pelvis, the deep hip muscles and ligaments, the abdomen and lower pelvic organs, including how all these change throughout pregnancy and postpartum.
Based on this foundation, we will explore a variety of hip, pelvic floor and abdominal exercises designed to support the lower pelvic organs and ease the experience of pregnancy and delivery.
Friday, March 17th
The second day focuses on the practice of yoga postures and breathing techniques. We will consider practices for women exploring yoga for the first time in contrast to practices for regular or experienced students. We will look at how to modify asanas to best accommodate and support changing conditions across the period of gestation, delivery and lactation, including honoring and supporting pregnant students' needs in regular classes versus designing classes specifically for pre/post-natal students.
Saturday, March 18th
The third day focuses on designing complete and integrated yoga classes in six different configurations: 1) New to Yoga 1st Trimester, 2) New to Yoga 2nd & 3rd Trimesters, 3) New to Yoga Labor and Post-partum Reintegration, 4) Experienced with Yoga 1st Trimester, 2) Experienced with Yoga 2nd & 3rd Trimesters, 3) Experienced with Labor and Post-partum Reintegration.
Sunday, March 19th
The fourth day focuses on teaching components of complete and integrated classes for pregnant students, including breathing practices, adaptive asanas, meditation, visualization, and hands-on adjustments.
10 Benefits of Pre/Post-Natal Yoga
1. Increases overall strength, flexibility and wellbeing.
2. Reduces low back pain and sciatica.
3. Reduces ache and fatigue along the spine.
4. Reduces risk of perineal tears, urinary incontinence and the possible need to an episiotomy.
5. Helps digestion as your abdominal organs get pushed around.
6. Stimulates circulation and reduces swelling & inflammation around your joints.
7. Eases the delivery of your baby through more awareness of pelvic floor muscles and use of yogic breathing.
8. Enhances emotional, mental and spiritual well being by creating the space for clearer self-reflection and a more abiding sense of wholeness and interconnection.
9. Improves your overall physical comfort and helps you ease into life with a new baby.
10. A great way to stay connected with your friend and community!
“When someone mentions the gracefulness of the night sky, climb up on the roof and dance and say, like this?”