Q&A: Do I Need to Make Changes for Prenatal Teaching?

Gurmukh answers how pregnant yoga teachers can modify their methods.

Q: I am a hatha yoga teacher and 11 weeks pregnant. I feel comfortable in my own practice. However, what changes do I need to make when teaching classes? When I demonstrate Cobra, for example, I notice abdomen pressure. I find myself out of breath more when I’’m teaching and have not been able to practice intense pranayama lately. Should I be teaching less, or demonstrating fewer poses? When should a pregnant yoga teacher stop teaching class? Is it ethical or safe to teach a class when I am eight or nine months pregnant and can barely move around?<I>—Lynn</i>

Read Gurmukh’s reply:

Dear Lynn,

It comes with the territory of pregnancy that your breath will continue to get shorter as you grow. You can continue with Pranayama—in fact, it’s good for you—as long as you don’t feel uncomfortable.

At 11 weeks, you’re still very early in your pregnancy and you can still do everything that feels good. As your body changes, just change your practice to align with how you feel. Later in pregnancy, you may choose a trusted student to demonstrate the postures you no longer feel comfortable doing. After 18 weeks, your breath will become stronger.

Whether you continue to teach really depends upon how quickly your body grows and how comfortable you are with your new form. Many women teach throughout their pregnancy, setting a great example for their students.

There are plenty of modifications you can make in your practice that will not diminish your ability to provide fulfilling classes to your students. You can sit in a chair if necessary. You can choose another student to demonstrate postures, or you can do modified versions of the postures while instructing the students how to do the full versions. Of course, certain aspects of your practice may not have to change at all, such as your ability to lead a meditation.

If teaching continues to be a joy in your life, great. If not, take a break or teach less. You may not want to teach the last month or so and that is fine. Perhaps you want to nest or spend more inward time. But if it feels good to keep teaching, keep going! Know that for the health of your baby, and your own health, it’s fine to teach until you deliver. Follow your heart—every pregnancy is different.