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A women sitting in a prenatal yoga center

If you’re considering offering prenatal yoga workout classes in your yoga studio, there are a few things you should keep in mind to create value and a safe experience for your clients.

As a yoga instructor, you need to focus on a mix of specific techniques of asana, breathing, and relaxation exercises to lead your clients to self-awareness, flexibility, mental balance, and physical strength. 

There is a tremendous increase in the number of women who want to stay fit while pregnant. After all, a prenatal yoga workout routine reduces stress, helps bond with the baby, and strengthens pelvic muscles. You’ll need a prenatal yoga certification for conducting classes at your yoga studio. Before you get started, here are a few things you need to know.

Is prenatal yoga safe?

Why is prenatal yoga so popular?

What you need to know

  1. Ensure client’s consultation with a healthcare professional
  2. Certified instructors
  3. Create a comfortable environment
  4. Don’t completely exclude twists
  5. Concentrate on oblique muscles
  6. Avoid inversions and prone poses
  7. Attempt Savasana from a side position
  8. Hip openers should be a focus point
  9. Breathing exercises matter
  10. Remember squats
  11. Incorporate props

Is prenatal yoga safe?

Prenatal yoga is safe, especially when practiced under the guidance of a trained prenatal yoga instructor. Prenatal yoga is designed to address the specific needs and challenges of pregnancy, such as balance, flexibility, strength, and relaxation. However, some regular yoga poses are not comfortable or physically possible when you’re pregnant. Twists, deep backbends, and forward folds are not advised during pregnancy since they put pressure on the belly. 

So, as long as your client is not practicing poses that are visibly uncomfortable or would put pressure on the baby, prenatal yoga is completely safe. As a prenatal yoga instructor, it’s your job to guide them on what’s best for them and what’s not.

Why is prenatal yoga so popular?

Prenatal yoga has surged in popularity for a myriad of compelling reasons. Pregnancy is a transformative journey, both physically and emotionally, and expectant mothers are increasingly turning to prenatal yoga as a means to support their well-being. This practice offers a holistic approach with many benefits:

Improves flexibility, strength, and balance

Prenatal yoga is specifically designed to cater to the changing needs of pregnant women. It helps improve flexibility, strength, and balance while also addressing common discomforts like lower back pain and swollen ankles.

Reduces stress

Pregnancy can be a stressful time, both physically and emotionally. Prenatal yoga includes relaxation and mindfulness techniques that help reduce stress and promote a sense of calm and well-being.

Creates a bond with the baby

Prenatal yoga often emphasizes the connection between the mother and her growing baby. This focus on bonding can be an emotionally enriching aspect of the practice.

Prepares for labor

Many prenatal yoga poses and breathing exercises are designed to prepare the body for labor and delivery. Techniques like controlled breathing and pelvic floor exercises can be beneficial during childbirth.

What you need to know about prenatal yoga classes

A prenatal yoga workout is all about the right poses. As mentioned above, there are certain yoga poses that are not practical during pregnancy. So what should you avoid and what should you focus on? 

1. Ensure client’s consultation with a healthcare professional

Every pregnancy is unique, and what might be safe for one individual might not be for another. A healthcare professional can assess the specific health circumstances of the pregnant person, considering any pre-existing conditions or complications.

If there’s a history of miscarriages, premature labor, or other pregnancy complications, certain poses might need to be approached with more caution. As the pregnancy progresses, the body’s response to exercises can also change. So, make sure your client has taken a go-ahead from their healthcare provider before joining your yoga class. Regular check-ins ensure that the yoga routine remains safe and beneficial. 

2. Certified instructors

Your instructors must have prenatal yoga certification. This not only ensures a safe experience for your clients but it also offers you a level of legal protection. 

Pregnancy introduces physical changes, such as ligament laxity and an altered center of gravity. Certified instructors are trained to adapt yoga poses to ensure the safety of both the mother and the baby. They can provide modifications and alternatives to prevent strain or injury. Emphasis should be on avoiding poses that could strain the abdomen or put undue pressure on the lower back.

3. Create a comfortable environment

Studio spaces should be clean and well-maintained. Props like bolsters, blocks, and blankets can enhance the comfort and support for pregnant participants. Consider dimming the lights and using soothing music to create a calming ambiance.

Include elements of mindfulness and meditation to help expectant mothers relax, manage stress, and connect with their changing bodies. This also means structuring your yoga classes in a way that suits them. Prenatal yoga classes typically include gentle warm-up exercises, modified yoga poses, breathing techniques, and relaxation. The pace should be slower, and transitions between poses should be smooth to accommodate the needs of pregnant women.

4. Don’t completely exclude twists 

Twisting from the waist is a no-go for an expectant mom due to the growing baby and stretching of the pelvic ligaments. 

Rather than deep twists, suggest shoulder-related twists, like a seated twist where the client can be in a forward-facing sitting position while peering over their shoulder.

5. Concentrate on oblique muscles

To reduce the risk of abdominal separation, you should avoid core exercises as the baby grows, taking up more space. Instead, focus on her side core or oblique muscles. Consider side-leg lifts that will work their oblique muscles, eliminating any strain that could affect the deep abdominal muscles.

6. Avoid inversions and prone poses

These poses are executed using your stomach, like the Locust pose or the Cobra pose, and should be steered clear of due to the pressure on the mom’s back as well as the baby.  Alternatively, you can introduce seated forward folds, like the Seated Straddle pose.

Although some expecting moms might press for inversions due to the benefits, they should be avoided as it hinders circulation and lung capacity, which could affect the baby’s growth. Consider incorporating a Bridge pose instead, while using a bolster or a block beneath the client’s spine and hips for support.

7. Attempt Savasana from a side position

a pregnant woman practicing side lying savasana in prenatal yoga classes

In the second trimester (20 weeks), and beyond, the risk of oxygen depreciation increases while lying on the back, which could prevent necessary oxygen from getting to the baby. Resting in the Savasana position on their side is the preferred method during pregnancy, rather than on their back.

8. Hip openers should be a focus point

a pregnant woman practicing butterfly pose in a prenatal yoga class

Expectant moms will eventually start to feel the pressure of their growing baby which also affects changes within their bodies. Unfortunately, the hips, hamstrings, and back tend to suffer the brunt of the baby’s pressure. Concentrating on hip openers can assist in opening and relieving tension in these areas. It also helps the body prepare for labor and delivery.

During pregnancy, the Pigeon pose is great for: 

  • Relieving hip tightness and releasing tension in the lower back.
  • Creating room for the baby by lengthening the spine.
  • Allows for a moment of pause so that the mom can connect with her body and the baby.

Other hip-opening poses such as butterfly pose, garland pose, and seated straddle help you relax and better prepare you for childbirth.

9. Breathing exercises matter

This is something that prenatal yoga instructors should pay extra attention to. Taking the time to breathe can help release anxiety and tension. Taking in a lot of oxygen will help the baby grow healthy and strong. The same is the case with the mother who can benefit from oxygen and energy leading to a peaceful pregnancy. Breathing exercises will also help your client during labor. Consider introducing Candlelight Breath.

Candlelight Breath is implemented either at a slow, calming pace or a fast, revitalizing pace. Here’s how it’s practiced:

  1. Get in a comfy, seated position.
  2. Breathe deeply through the nose.
  3. Exhale via pursed lips, like blowing out a candle.
  4. Repeat as many times as you like.

10. Remember squats

a pregnant women doing squats in a prenatal yoga class

Squatting is an excellent exercise for pregnant women. Did you know that squats help to open up the hips and the pelvic floor? This movement improves flexibility throughout the mom’s pregnancy and allows for an easier delivery. Luckily, there are many squatting poses in yoga, which range from seated to standing squats, either held or flowing.

11. Incorporate props

woman using bolster in a prenatal yoga class

Blocks are especially useful in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Some uses of blocks can be:

  • As comfortable furniture for extended sitting or kneeling
  • Rest under the elbows and head in the Pigeon pose
  • Placed between the knees while practicing the side-lying Savasana, blocks give you stability and help build hip adductor strength

Bolsters allow for comfortable support throughout the pregnancy for resting your client’s back in Savasana or while bending during Child’s pose. So keep the best ones around at your prenatal yoga studio. 

In Summary

Pregnancy is an important time in a woman’s life, and teaching prenatal yoga classes allows you to use your gift to provide the gift of comfort to pregnant women. While the very first step is to get prenatal yoga certification for teaching prenatal yoga, the tips covered in this article will help you provide a nurturing and safe atmosphere for the baby and mom at your prenatal yoga studio.

Here’s a recap of everything we’ve covered in this article:

  • A prenatal yoga workout is safe as long as you’re mindful and understand your body’s limitations.
  • Ensure that all your instructors have prenatal yoga certification. 
  • Provide a comfortable environment that not only guarantees a clean space but also offers emotional support. 
  • Don’t let your client practice deep twists. However, shoulder-related twists are safe.
  • Concentrate on oblique muscles and practice side-leg lifts.
  • Avoid inversions and prone poses as they put pressure on the mom’s back and the baby.
  • Attempt Savasana from a side position as there’s a risk of oxygen depreciation for the baby while lying on the back.
  • Hip openers should be a focal point.
  • Breathing exercises help the baby be healthier. 
  • Squats improve flexibility and strengthen the pelvic floor.

Your prenatal yoga center’s success depends on how well-equipped and trained you are at employing specific techniques of asana, pranayama, and breathing and relaxation exercises. An amazing prenatal yoga instructor should also know how to build a relaxing and calming environment in their prenatal yoga studio so that future moms can better connect with themselves.

It’s always a good idea to brush up on these skills and take some prenatal yoga teacher training classes for new insights. You can check some of them out here