Prenatal Yoga Classes and Teacher Training
Have you ever heard the saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”? Imagine the possibilities…If an expectant mother
practiced Yoga during pregnancy…what lasting impact could that have on her future children. Could a child be born without ever knowing that taking care of yourself and your health needs wasn’t the norm? And how would that knowing impact their future and all those that they came into contact with…to include their children?
PRENATAL YOGA – Ancient Tradition Answers Modern Call
By Martha Bond E-RYT500hr, RPYT, YACEP
Our Modern world presents unique challenges for today’s expectant mothers. Imagine for a moment in addition to the demands of your daily responsibilities you take on life’s most virtuous endeavor…nurturing a new life. Along with the physical and hormonal changes taking place, many woman experience added stress and anxiety during this time. Pregnancy in itself causes stress on the body. Growing babies takes a lot of energy. It’s unrealistic to expect a woman to add this to an already full life without some tools to make it work. Prenatal Yoga is the answer to how you can incorporate balance, fitness and confidence into your changing life. Maximizing your experience while minimizing stress.
Getting yourself to a Prenatal Yoga class may take some dedication and motivation, but the benefits are huge. Consistent Yoga practice during pregnancy can minimize edema (swelling in extremities), fatigue and constipation; relieve backache and tension; help you sleep better; and lower your risk of gestational diabetes and depression. Women who exercise during pregnancy may end up having a shorter, less complicated labor. Establishing a regular Yoga practice during pregnancy will help you get your body back faster after delivery too. Establishing healthy living practices now is the best influence you can have on your growing family. Imagine growing up only knowing how to be active and healthy. Start now and your baby will always know how to live a conscious life. This is the greatest gift next to life itself you can give your new child.
CAUTION! Get clearance from your doctor before you begin any activity, especially if you are adding something new like yoga. TALK to your teacher about their credentials and check them out. Do they belong to a professional organization i.e. Yoga Alliance? Did they complete a comprehensive Prenatal Yoga training course, or are they only modifying poses for pregnant women? Unfortunately you don’t always have to hold any certification to offer classes in the community, so it’s up to you to make an informed decision. You and your baby deserve the best!
During pregnancy the emphasis is to lengthen and strengthen all the muscles in the body, to increase range of motion and to stabilize the joints, to improve posture and alignment, and enhance structural integrity. The expectant mother gains a better self-image and experiences less fatigue and strain on the body. In Prenatal Yoga we focus on those areas specific to the needs of pregnancy and childbirth Not only preparing women for the demands of pregnancy, labor and delivery, but also the challenges of having a newborn. The growing fetus puts considerable strain on alignment of the back and pelvis. The added weight can cause an anterior tilt in the pelvis, which may result in lower back pain. A well-designed class will address this by offering effective asanas (poses) to strengthen and stabilize the lower back the pelvis.
Something simple to try at home is Utkatasana (Chair Pose). Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) standing with hip joints, knee joints and ankle joints aligned with your arms at your sides. Standing with intention not at attention. Reach your arms forward and up in line with your ears. Slide your shoulder blades down your back and lengthen your spine without hyper extending. Bend your knees as if you were going to sit in a chair. Pay close attention to the relation of your knees to your ankles. The knees should track right over the center of the ankles without going beyond the toes. Move between these poses in time with your breath. Inhale as you enter Utkatasana and exhale when you return to Tadasana.
Your quality of your life is a direct result of the quality of your breath. You only have to know someone with Asthma or COPD to understand the gravity of this statement. Unless you have a respiratory issue, you generally take every breath for granted. They come and go without effort and we assume they are effective as long as that process isn’t interrupted. Unconscious breathing is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. However, the breath is subject to conscious control and may become a link between our conscious mind, our bodies and even our emotional and deepest spiritual states.
Cultivating this conscious control of the breath serves the expectant mother in many ways. As the baby grows the added weight compresses the abdomen making it more difficult to breath. Pranayama (Yoga breathing techniques) helps to narrows focus and improve lung capacity. Conscious breathing enhances effects of asanas (yoga poses). All movement in asana is initiated through the action of the breath and is guided by the breath. Proper breathing increases oxygen levels in the blood, which increases oxygen to the baby and minimizes fatigue. Slow controlled breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system cultivating a sense of calm and control and enhances digestion, nutrient absorption and stimulates elimination.
Developing conscious breathing can begin by simply bringing awareness to the process of your breath. Begin seated in a comfortable position with the spine erect and shoulders relaxed. Close your eyes softly and begin to take notice of your breath. Feel it as it passes through the nostrils, moves down the esophagus and enters the bronchial tubes moving into the lungs. Begin to inhale fully and exhale completely. Filling every corner of the lungs. Progressively start to lengthen your inhale and extend your exhale without producing any feelings of eagerness for breath. Now direct your breath into the upper chest at the onset of your inhale, expanding the ribs then extending the belly as the lungs reach capacity. Focus your effort in the opposite direction on the exhale. After pausing at the top of your inhale, contract your abdominals just below the navel to initiate your exhale. Allow the ribs to contract and then the chest to return to neutral. Continue for 2-3 minutes building up to 5, 10 or 15 minutes.
With the physiological effects of meditations such as stress reduction, lower heart rate and blood pressure comes its true purpose, the experience of inner peace where we are whole and happy within ourselves. There is a sense of oneness with life as a whole. Sometimes women loose a sense of themselves. They begin to identify only as a vessel for the new life inside them, loosing touch with their own authenticity. Meditation reestablishes the connection of you to your true self.
We cannot ignore the perceived effects of a pregnant woman’s stress on her unborn child. Researchers aren’t exactly sure which stress responses play the largest role, but it’s clear that when a pregnant woman experiences anxiety, her body produces chemicals that affect the baby, too. Her nervous system, for instance, responds with a release of epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormones that constrict blood vessels and may reduce oxygen to the uterus.
Meditation is as simple as sitting in stillness, or as complicated as sitting in stillness. The challenge comes from trying to quiet your thoughts and listen in stillness to your being within. Turn off the TV, radio and your phone. Sit in a comfortable supportive position. Move your awareness from your outer world to your inner world. Without expectation simply bare witness to what surfaces without judgment good or bad. Begin to acknowledge the space between thoughts. You may become distracted time and time again, but each time you’ll find it easier to return to the sanctuary of that quiet uncluttered space.
By the time you reach the labor and delivery room your Prenatal Yoga practice will have prepared you mentally, physically and emotionally. Many women take notes during class. Putting together a Yoga toolbox by jotting down their favorite poses they came to depend on for support and relief. I recommend you take the list with you. When labor becomes intense your coach can refer to it and offer suggestions. “How about trying Balansa”? The familiarity of your favorite asana will bring you back into focus and return you to your breath and to the natural process before you.
Prenatal Yoga teaches you to trust in the wisdom of your body and rest in that knowledge. You’ll have a reference point and the comfort of a quieter place inside you that is yours alone. Confident that you have prepared yourself the best way possible for what ever challenges your birthing situation brings.
In the weeks following the birth, many of the techniques you learned in your Prenatal Yoga practice will continue to serve you. By the time you have been cleared by your doctor to resume normal activity, you’ll be anxious to get back into pre-pregnancy shape. The good news is that Yoga is a low impact, muscle building, and calorie burning activity! Your teacher can advise you on where you can find a class to meet your needs. With the foundation you laid in Prenatal Yoga, you’ll be ready to continue your journey into optimal health and wellness.
Become a Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher!
A rewarding path into your future
- YogaBond® Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training is a complete Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training recognized by Yoga Alliance.
- This 85 hour course will prepare you for the the rewarding path of teaching Prenatal Yoga.
- If you are a 200hr RYT or above, upon successful completion of this course you may register the designation of RPYT with Yoga Alliance. It also exceeds the Yoga Alliance required continuing education standards. BONUS!
Martha began teaching Prenatal Yoga in 2005. She was inspired by her experience with her own pregnancies and childbirth. She prepared for childbirth by reading all the right books and taking all of the right childbirth courses. Early on in her own labor and birthing experience, she was surprised when she found herself practicing Yoga breathing. It not only intuitively felt right and more natural, it served her far better than everything else she had learned.
In addition to being a Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher (RPYT) through Yoga Alliance, She earned her Diploma as a Pre-Postnatal Yoga Teacher through Aura Yoga and completed The Pre-Postnatal Fitness Course through the American Council on Exercise (ACE).