The Joy of Teaching Prenatal Yoga by Heather Brown

Many yoga teachers are inspired to work with pregnant women from their own experiences with the pregnancy and childbirth. They find their own experiences of practicing throughout pregnancy so rewarding (as I did) that they want to teach yoga classes specifically designed for the expectant mom. Others may have never had a child, but are drawn to the energy of the divine feminine or issues of women’s empowerment and have a strong desire to support women. Others may have no desire to teach prenatal yoga per se, but occasionally encounter pregnant women in their beginner, hatha or vinyasa classes. As yoga teachers, it is our responsibility to be able to adapt the practice for all who cross the threshold into our space. Many teachers are reluctant to work with expectant moms, whether from a misperception that pregnant women are fragile and easily injured, a hesitation out of fear of introducing risk to new life or other reservations. It is great to recognize the limits of our knowledge and experience and be truthful about such limits. It is even greater to continue to expand our education and learn to safely and effectively make our teaching accessible to wider audiences, including pregnant women.

As yoga teachers, we aim to hold the space where our students can take refuge from the pressures of life. We create a place where they can retreat to nurture their bodies, to gain insight into the inner workings of their minds and hearts, to cultivate compassion and love. We hope the end result is students who experience greater self-understanding, self-acceptance, compassion, healing and joy. When this transformation happens within a student, the effects of it ripple out into the community and our culture at large. This puts us in a profound position of being able to affect deeply positive and lasting change on a scale larger than we comprehend. It is both a tremendous responsibility and opportunity. When your students are pregnant women, growing new life, the personal and ripple effects of the practice are magnified greatly, as the comfort, healing, strength and peace cultivated within the mother have a profound and direct impact on the developing physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual life of the child . Prenatal Yoga Teacher Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa says “The womb is where another human being, through her compassion and knowingness and her own devotion to living an awakened life, can facilitate or uplift the destiny, of the soul inside of her. This is our gift on the planet as women. This is the way we can change the world and bring peace to the planet.”

Whether a student has been practicing yoga for many years, or comes to yoga for the first time while pregnant thanks to newfound motivation to take greater care of herself, teaching and supporting these students is rewarding and fun. Watching them experience the magic and the mystery of pregnancy and creating a space where they can appreciate, rather than be overwhelmed by, the changes taking place within their bodies, minds and hearts. Pregnancy is a time of great transformation, and the tools of yoga support this journey on every level. Growing a baby is physically demanding and the changes in the body are often accompanied by a range of possible physical discomforts. It is also a time of emotional upheaval, as moms-to-be shed old ways of being and refine themselves to meet the journey of motherhood with an open heart. Practicing yoga during pregnancy carves out sacred time that expectant moms can count on to cultivate introspection, connect with their baby and alleviate the discomforts of a changing body and accept them as the tapas of transformation – the challenging work that must be done to change in deep and lasting ways. One of the greatest compliments I ever received was once when a student told me my class was the only time she was ever present enough to really connect with her baby and enjoy her pregnancy.

Being a guide and inspiration along this journey is an invaluable gift to pregnant women and a deeply satisfying way to put yoga to work in the world. You know that your teaching, your love nurtures the whole being of the mother and the baby, supporting a vibrant pregnancy, a healthy birth and bring ease and empowerment to the transition to motherhood. If you feel called to work with this always-in-demand niche within the global yoga community, this Yoga Alliance approved specialized training is a thorough and inspirational foundation that will give you a depth of understanding of the anatomy, physiology, psychology, energetics and spirituality of pregnancy, birth and mothering. As a recent exclaimed “Do this! It was such a great experience for me, deepened my practice and appreciation for the power of yoga during pregnancy and birth!