5 ways to be a great pregnancy yoga teacher

So you’ve done your pregnancy yoga teacher training. You’ve scheduled your first class and women are starting to sign up. Hooray by the way, that’s one of the hardest parts done! 

You sit down to plan your first class. You’ve got so many ideas but where do you even start? How do you make sure your pregnancy yoga class aren’t just good – they’re great? You want your Mums-to-be to walk away from your classes feeling good in their bodies, but also empowered and connected and calm. 

How do you even do that?

In my experience teaching pregnancy yoga for the last 10 years, there are a number of essentials that I make sure that I do in every class that I teach. The feedback that my students give me are these are the things that make all the difference. 

pregnancy yoga teacher

What makes a great pregnancy yoga teacher?

Facilitate community

One of the best things about going to pregnancy yoga classes is that you get to make Mum friends with women who will have newborns at the same time as you.  Community is so important when you’re a Mum.  Sometimes it gets really lonely and having someone you can call when you’re having a bad day, or the baby won’t sleep, or you’re unsure of something is what will get you through those early days with a newborn. 

As a pregnancy yoga teacher I think it’s really important that you help foster these connections between your students. There are any number of ways you can do this. Here are a few ideas I’ve used in the past:

  • Make the time for group introductions at the start of each new term of classes 
  • Ask students to draw an oracle card at the start of class and give them the option to share about their week if they want
  • Ask for a one word check in at the start of class.
  • Get to know your students well yourself and make introductions. Eg. “Sarah, this is Maddy. She is due with her first in May as well.”
  • Create an online community where students can connect outside of class. A Slack community, Facebook group or messenger work well.
  • Hold a women’s circle at the end of your last class together. 
  • Encourage your students to let you know when their babies arrive and share this information (with permission) with the group. 
  • Organise Mums and bubs meet ups with past students.

Acknowledge the baby

It might seem obvious but in every pregnancy yoga class that you teach you should be acknowledging the babies who are present. You might not be able to see them, but these souls and their energy are definitely there. This mightn’t come naturally to you at first, especially if you have no personal experience with pregnancy, but it’s SO important. 

For many women whose lives are increasingly busy, pregnancy yoga classes are the only time each week where they get to stop and give their full attention to their growing baby. 

Again, there are many different ways you can help your students tune in and connect with their baby. Some of the ways that I include this in my pregnancy yoga classes are:

  • Ask your students to breathe with their baby. Eg. As they breathe in, they imagine that their baby is also breathing in. As they breathe out, their baby breathes out. You can make this visualisation of the baby as detailed or as simple as you like. 
  • Use physical touch. Ask your students to hold their bellies as if they are holding their babies. 
  • Guide visualisations and meditations that focus on mother and baby together. Eg. Yoga nidra where you scan through both bodies, white light meditation where you surround both mother and baby with light and feeling of wellbeing. 
  • Conversation – talk to your students about their baby! 

Teach tools for birth in every class

While yoga for birth is a great stand alone workshop or class that you can run, I also think you should be talking about how yoga tools can be used during birth throughout EVERY pregnancy yoga class. Make birth a part of your everyday conversation. This will help to relieve anxiety for those of your students who may be feeling it. 

Ideas for how to include birth talk in all pregnancy yoga classes

  • When you teach a new pranayama practise, mention where and why you may use it during labour and birth. Give a personal anecdote or story if you have one (when you’re about to give birth – you want to hear about other’s experiences of birth). 
  • When you move students through various poses that double as active birth postures – talk about how and why you might move into these poses during labour and birth. Eg. draw knees in to open the outlet of the pelvis
  • During meditation ask women to visualise their birth and encourage your students to talk about what came up for them after class. 
  • When practising strengthening / challenging postures ask students to practise their tools for birth – breathwork, affirmations, mantras, mindset, etc

Teach them to trust their own intuition

Intuition is so important for motherhood. Throughout labour and birth you will need to connect to your own inner wisdom and strength (which may mean disagreeing with medical policy). In the uncertainty of newborn life you will need to lean on your mama instinct that will know your baby best (despite the potential barrage of external advice). 

Motherhood really is an intuitive sport and the sooner new Mums learn that the better. Get them to start tuning into this throughout your classes by asking them to make choices throughout the class based on what feels good for them. Ask them to listen to their own heart and follow its lead.

Restorative practises are essential 

Don’t get so caught up in the poses and movement that you treat restorative practises like meditation and visualisation as afterthoughts. In a pregnancy yoga class they should be main events. Make sure you leave enough time to really devote to rest at the end of class and try to include practises that help your students leave feeling truly nourished. No one ever left a yoga class mad that someone gave them a foot or head massage during savasana. (Obviously ask for consent first).

Final thoughts

If you’re just starting out teaching pregnancy yoga, don’t put off teaching because you can’t get all of these things perfect on your first class. There really is only one way to learn (and become great) and that’s by doing. I certainly wasn’t amazing during my first class (or even my 10th or 20th class for that matter).

These are things to work towards as you become more confident as a teacher. Start by learning the basics of teaching pregnancy yoga first, and just try to make every class a little bit better than the last. You’ll be a great pregnancy yoga teacher before you know it.

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