Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Yoga and The Belly

Apparently, more than any other topic, the most popular questions on Yoga Journal's newsletter for teachers ("My Yoga Mentor") is how to deal with pregnant students in yoga class. So, my next series of articles for them will discuss how to make class as safe and useful as possible for pregnant yoginis. This is not to be a replacement for specific study of prenatal yoga, but more an introduction into key concerns and essential modifications.

On the one hand, it seems pretty basic--one article per trimester, describe useful poses, warn about contraindicated poses--but it also is kind of overwhelming. Where to start? Having just finished my second pregnancy (and having taught the whole way through), I feel pretty in tune to the limitations of the pregnant body. But, I have no idea what it feels like to wander into your first yoga class, 7 months pregnant, where everyone else is regulars and not pregnant. I feel like these are the students that the article should address, but--man--it seems like there are a lot of issues to cover. Any thoughts?

It is interesting how the practice shifts from asana to pranayama and meditation--at least it did for me. I'm going to interview the obstetric nurse who helped deliver both my sons and is now, coincidentally, one of my students. I'm really interested to hear what a professional thinks are the most useful elements of yoga for labor and delivery. Obviously breath and focus are important, but I suspect there is more.

So, I'm headed into the research part of the process and thought I would post my initial ideas to see what y'all think. So many of you are teachers and/or mothers with yoga experience, I'm sure you can give me some suggestions of what to consider (remember, I only have 750 words per article). I look forward to hearing from you!

(Boy, looking back at that picture from June...I gotta say, I do not miss those maternity fashions, that's for sure!)


jensmith98 said...

Sounds great - I'm looking forward to it.

On a slightly different slant, I'd love to read an article about teaching yoga while pregnant to the non-pregnant. I'm planning to teach all the way through my pregnancy and am realizing that I need to reinvigorate the language and adjustments I use.

Yoga Mama said...

I'd love to see your posts on prenatal yoga. I'm 22 weeks pregnant, teach yoga at a local YMCA myself and am trying to learn as much as I can about yoga and pregnancy.

Great blog.

yogamom (Chris O'Brien) said...

Hmmm, I love pondering stuff like this . . . I'm a medical writer and yoga teacher. The pregnancy yoga class has no non-pregnant students, so it's a different situation from that of a pregnant student entering a regular class.

You might consider approaching the articles from the persepctive of Maslowe's Hierarchy of Need, everybody has to learn this in some psycholgy course along the way, right? Anyway, it states that you (the teacher in this case) attend to basic needs first, things like safety and comfort, then you move up the ladder to other needs like spiritual and emotional comfort for example. It's just a thought . . .

I think the psychosocial aspects of pregnancy (attitudes, emotions, relationship changes, etc.) are as important as the physical aspects, which generally get more press. They've come up in my classes and it's interesting to see how helpful other students can be to one another. The teacher has to foster this by not trying to have all of the answers of course!

The community building that can begin in a pregnancy yoga class is also powerful and can help moms to begin to connect with the vast network of wisdom that's available. It helps them to connect lots of things actually: body and mind, mom and baby, mom and community. There's probably even more!

Sounds like it will be a fun article to write. Can't wait to read it!

Brenda Plakans said...

What great comments, y'all. I really appreciate the thought you've given my project. It's starting to get really interesting...and I think I'm glad to be on the other side of the pregnancy, so there's a little perspective, but it's still quite fresh.