I have a story to share about the first time I found out that a pregnant woman would be attending one of my yoga classes. I had been teaching yoga for four years, but had never worked one-on-one with a prenatal student.
I had also never been pregnant, and so having no idea how to relate, I thought pregnant women were like creatures from another universe! When the news got to me that a woman who was more than 8 months pregnant would be coming to my yoga class in a few hours, I was freaked!
Why was I afraid to serve this woman? Well, first of all, I felt totally uneducated about what happens to the female body during pregnancy. Sure, I had probably learned some things in yoga teacher training about it, but none of it was coming to me now! Essentially, I felt unprepared. The only safety precaution that I could think of was, ‘Don’t squish the baby!’
Fortunately, I had worked with many different body types and capabilities over the years, but no one who was about to give birth! The good news was that the class I was about to teach was a restorative class. I knew restorative yoga well and had given many successful classes to students with several physical limitations. There are also fewer cautions and contraindications for the postures compared to Hatha Yoga, and fewer guidelines.
My three rules for restorative have always been simple:
- Check for safety and proper alignment.
- Make sure all the major joints are supported by props.
- Make sure the student is completely comfortable and relaxed.
So when the time finally came for me to meet this very pregnant woman, she surprised me by her calmness, confidence, and willingness to practice yoga. She was actually very easy to work with because she knew her body better than I did. We were able to combine my knowledge of the asanas with her understanding of what she knew would be right for her body. We both used our creativity to get her comfortable in each pose.
When we practiced Child’s Pose, for example, she naturally made space for her growing belly, then she wiggled her weight onto the remaining blankets and got comfortable just like that! I was amazed how she continued to move with confidence and body awareness from one pose to the next. I made a few suggestions here and there, but she pretty much did the work. She knew how to get into the poses safely, and once she was there, she melted her weight easily onto the props.
Fortunately, there were only two other students at this class, which gave me the space to give this woman a bit more attention. I learned a lot that night just from observing her! I was lucky to have such a positive experience with my first prenatal student! She gave me the confidence to work with many other expectant mothers down the road.
And of course, once I had the experience of pregnancy myself I learned a lot more through the gradual 9-month process. I got the time to slowly adapt to the physical changes. By the time my belly looked like a basketball, I still felt like myself…just very ready to give birth! There wasn’t a huge disconnect from me and my baby like I had imagined there would be. We were connected by one body!
Do you have a similar story to share? Post in the comments field below.
Are you ready to accept and support a prenatal student if she shows up in your regular yoga class? If not, get prepared with our Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training offered Oct 4-9,2016 at The Expanding Light Retreat for RYT’s. Click here for details.