I happen to believe every yoga teacher should take a prenatal training – and maybe even ever person. It’s true, not everyone wants to teach prenatal yoga. Still, most of us will know someone we care about who gets pregnant, and most yoga teachers will find themselves teaching with a pregnant woman in the room. Knowing how we can best support them – and not pass along more anxiety and fear – is the greatest gift we can give a mom-to-be.
Here are 10 reasons why I love the idea of prenatal trainings for all people:
1. Use Birth as Your Guru
I see birth as my Guru. By looking at the physical, mental, emotional, energetic, and spiritual aspects of the journey to motherhood, I gain insights into how life creates life – and how I can participate fully in it. Whatever’s gestating with you – whether it’s a baby, a project, or a new way of being in the world – the co-creative principles remain the same.
2. Learn the Keys to Manifesting
We are all pregnant with something, whether it’s a baby, a project, or a vision of who we’re becoming. The practices and principles we learn and teach in prenatal yoga apply to birthing whatever is wanting to come into the world through us.
3. Get Past the Do’s and Don’ts
Most of us have seen the do’s and don’ts list – twists, strong abdominals, holding the breath. While these rules important, they often have exceptions. And when we’re trying to remember rules, we’re creating tension and even anxiety. When we really understand the principles behind prenatal yoga – how to safely make space for baby in all the right places, while stabilizing mama’s vulnerable areas – we can be creative and enjoy the moment.
4. Deepen Your Self-Care
The off-the-mat aspects of prenatal training uplevel our daily routines. Pregnancy is an opportunity to incorporate all those self-care, daily rhythms, and food-as-medicine routines because they’ll be incredibly important during our postpartum recovery. But these same “Anchor Practices” support vital wellness for all of us – who couldn’t use some time to slow down and incorporate some new healthy habits?
5. Unleash the Power of “Ma”
In just about every language, “Ma” means mother: moeder (Dutch), mamma (Italian), mãe (Portuguese), mæ (Thai), amma (Sinhala), ammi (Urdu) and emak (Malay).
In Sanskrit, the ancient language of yoga, “Ma” also means the highest, most powerful, and wise aspect.
Having witnessed pregnant yogis transform into self-actualized mama bears for 20 years, I’ve come to believe that it’s learning to mother ourselves that opens the door to our power and wisdom.
6. Create Connection
Often as a new yoga teacher I felt isolated. There’s something of a “fourth wall” that separates us from our students – and that’s as it should be.
And yet with the pregnant mamas, I found we could break the fourth wall and really connect. Moms-to-be love to share about what they’re going through, and we really get to know each other. Even just talking about pregnancy helps us connect to the wonderment of life itself, and remember we are part of something bigger.
7. Take Advantage of Modern-Day Gifts
Online teaching has been a love of mine since 2009. It connects people from around the world, allowing us to grow and learn together while integrating yoga into our daily lives. It eliminates the need for travel or intensive retreats, providing flexibility and expanding possibilities for both teachers and students. It also allows us to take trainings over a longer period of time, since not everyone has prenatal trainings in their area. And it gives the information in shorter chunks, so you’re not overwhelmed.
8. Find Your Feminine Side
In yoga we have Siva/Shakti, in Chinese Medicine we have Yin and Yang. Understanding the two complimentary sides of ourselves – sometimes called the Masculine and Feminine – can help us access our inner resources. The more logical, achievement-oriented, “I got this” part of us is the Masculine side, and this is what society rewards most often. The intuitive, process-orientede, “I need you” part of us is the Feminine side, and this is what we can tap into when we decide to slow down, listen in, and honor what we hear. Pregnancy – even learning about it – offers us an opportunity to rediscover our feminine wisdom and power.
9. Adapt Yoga for Real-Life Challenges
The traditional ideas of lengthy meditation sessions may not be feasible for new, overwhelmed, exhausted moms. Prenatal isn’t about avoiding potentially harmful poses. It’s about re-visioning yoga so it works for our bodies and lives as they are right now. We all have gone through intense transitions – let’s practice redefining yoga so it’s there for us even during the most challenging times.
10. Oh and… They Really Need You
We have an epidemic in the US of depression and anxiety around birth. It doesn’t take a peer-reviewed study to know that there is intense isolation and lack of support for women, especially women in underserved communities. In traditional cultures, the whole village makes meals and takes care of the new mom. In ours, there’s just this intense pressure to get “back on the horse.”
They say each of us affects 1000 people. If you can awaken one mom-to-be to the idea that she needs and deserves help after baby’s born, that it’s ok to be in the “I need you” part of ourselves, that yoga and nurturing community are here for her in whatever way she can access them, and that by learning to truly nurture herself she can tap into all the power and wisdom she needs to have a beautiful, meaningful, authentic experience – then not only will you change her life – she might turn around and change another 1000. And so on…