As a yoga teacher, you are going to accept many students, who are all going to be of different weights, heights, body frames, levels of flexibility, and more. Typically, you don’t have to worry too much about the average student you teach because most can practice the techniques, but when dealing with pregnant women, you should consider changing up your class.
In most cases, doctors recommend pregnant women to take prenatal yoga classes. For student safety reasons, pregnant students should only be in a prenatal class with a certified prenatal yoga instructor. Here are tips that you can use to make the prenatal class enjoyable for everyone. Feel free to use the following tips for students in your prenatal classes.
The first thing to do is to make sure you provide space for the baby. Depending on how far along the pregnancy is, the baby is going to be larger and accommodations need to be made for the baby and the space it takes up. This is why you should avoid teaching any yoga poses to your pregnant students that compress the belly. If you can’t avoid them, modify them. You should not have your pregnant students on their bellies, especially in the second and third trimester. Compressing twists should also be avoided.
Another thing to make sure your pregnant students don’t do is overstretching. While the hormone relaxin increases flexibility, helping prepare the body for birth, that doesn’t mean that pregnant women should try and stretch to the limit. Ligaments are more relaxed, but by over-stretching, women can cause lifelong joint and pelvic problems, or even pulled ligaments. Have your pregnant students focus more on increasing their strength and stability, rather than trying to stretch as far as they can. Avoid deepening assists with your pregnant students.
If your student is at the end of her first trimester, and the beginning of her second trimester, the placenta is beginning to attach to the uterine wall. As a result, you want to avoid any inverted or jumping movements at this point. If your experienced students do want to do any inverting, they should practice mild variations, such as Downward Facing Dog and only for 30 seconds or less. Some women will resist any advice that they consider to be pampering, but pregnancy is the first time in our lives, when we have to consider every risk we take. Some women will always put their children at risk, but a wise mother will be mindful of her baby well before birth.
The center of gravity shifts for a woman who is pregnant, down to the lower back. As a result, pain in that area can be a common problem for women who are pregnant. As a teacher, you can help with that by ensuring that their lower back is where you are focusing on. Tailbone-centric exercises are an excellent way to strengthen that area and help a student relieve the pain. Encourage your pregnant students to practice exercises that strengthen the tailbone, and that should help them relive the problem of back pain.
Some yoga teachers use kumbhaka, which is breath retention when doing yoga, but this should be avoided if you are teaching pregnant students. Pregnant students should breathe slowly and evenly. Alternate nostril breathing can be a substitute for women who are pregnant.
For some people, lying on the back is not going to be comfortable. For pregnant women, you should avoid having them on their backs altogether. Some women find it to be welcome relief to learn modified postures instead of lying in Shavasana. Yoga can be a great way to keep the body healthy during pregnancy, but it is important that your students never push themselves too far with their poses.
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