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Tools for Teaching Postnatal Yoga

Now that her baby is here, a new mother faces a host of physical and emotional challenges. Help her use yoga to pace herself in healing and finding rejuvenation.

By Brenda K. Plakans

Baby the Mother

Some points to consider when teaching a postnatal student:

Encourage patience. It took nine months and one birth to get to this place, so a new mother should give herself another nine months to get back to "normal." If she tries to rush the healing process, she could actually prolong it by aggravating any strained muscles, tears, or incisions. Encourage her to listen to what her body is ready to do. Focus on the center. A postpartum student's torso is the area that needs the most attention. Help her work on her abdominals and lower back by starting with gentle stretches and gradually moving into strength-building poses. Offer lots of chest and shoulder openers to ease soreness in the upper body.

Turn the focus on her. The early months of a baby's life are its most helpless. Your student will be spending so much time caring for and worrying about this little person that she will neglect her own health and needs. Encourage her to relax and focus on herself while practicing, so she will be refreshed and ready to parent again after class.

Harris says, "My practice has changed, because I incorporate more of a yogic attitude in my life and in my parenting. My asana practice doesn't get as much attention, but I feel like I have a full experience.

"I think that, as a parent, I have needed to make choices about how I spend my time, and it makes me much more aware of how important the things I choose to do are to me. Yoga has taken a step up in my mind, because it's one of the things that I am willing to make a priority."

Brenda K. Plakans, mother of three-year-old Eamonn and six-month-old Alec, lives and teaches yoga in Beloit, Wisconsin. She also maintains the blog Grounding Thru the Sit Bones.

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Reader Comments

Morgan Gregory

As for the above blog for postnatal, I too use sphinz instead of cobra in my teaching. The use of an epidural can have lasting effects on our bodies. This is not explained to women who receive this medical intervention suring labour. Back pain can last for the rest of their life. Yoga will help, but it is a long process.

Interference with breastfeeding, I would not think so, but the maman knows best what feels right for her and what does not. Breasts are more sensitive after birth and especially when breatfeeding. I found these poses to help with breastfeeding because they massaged my breasts and it helped with my production. But each body is different and it was wise for her to withdraw if that is how her body was reacting to yoga. When she is more comfortable with being a Mom (past 6 months) she could think about coming back.

Morgan Gregory


I have a lot of obesse clients in my beginner class of yoga but they have a lot of difficulty doing many of the moves because of thier size. Are there any books or references that I can use to help my students? Props would be a great help, but I teach at a community centre in a defaourized area of Quebec, Canada and such ressources are not availible. The clientel is very willing and open to yoga, so I really would like to help them.

As well, in regards to your site and class planning tool, it would be helpful to have a prenatal selection as well. Most poses are self explanatory and well known, but some that can be added and modified for pregnant women or even avoided because of pregnancy related problems (high blood pressure, diabetes etc) would be helpful.

Best regards,

Morgan Gregory


are postnatal yoga classes typically only the mother (meaning no baby)? and do they tend to last 75 minutes as prenatal classes do? thanks!

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