Rhythm, Ritual and Relaxation: The Art of Pre-Natal Yoga. by Nicky Poole

A pre-natal yoga class is often the most comprehensive birth preparation a woman will have. She may attend a birthing class with her midwife, doctor or doula. But, often these are heavily focused on educating women to navigate complex medical systems and understand interventions and hospital policies. A great pre-natal yoga class empowers women to remember the ancient feminine wisdom that is encoded in our DNA. Our bodies were designed to give birth. In almost all cases, pregnancy and birth is normal, and should not be treated as a medical event. The rich practice of yoga enhances a woman’s experience of pregnancy on so many levels. As yoga teachers, we have an enormous opportunity to provide support, education and empowerment to these women in our classes.


Yoga gives us practical tools to understand the breath. The yoga practice teaches students the power of the expansive, uplifting force of prana vayu (the inhale) and the release and surrender of apana vayu (the exhale).

Women should be encouraged to walk around, squat, find places of traction, get low, rock, sway, circle, undulate, lean and find rhythmic movement. A thoughtful pre-natal movement practice will fortify their ability to trust their intuition and to move as their ancestors did as they prepared for birth. The beautiful practice of Shakti Namaskars, creative and feminine interpretations of the traditional Sun Salutation, teaches women rhythm, grace and strength. Gentle, flowing asana sequences alleviate common complaints in pregnancy, and provide nourishment to all the systems the body.


Our ancestors honoured the sacredness of birth in a very different way than we approach it now. Even just a hundred years ago, it was highly likely that by the time you were ready to give birth, you had attended and supported countless sisters, cousins and friends through this sacred ritual. In class, we share ritual practices such as empowering visualizations, mantra and breathing practices. The creation of personal altars using sacred art, exploring the mythology of feminine archetypes, journaling, sharing stories and the potency of ceremony are all beautiful enhancements to the ritual of birth.

Wedding of Heather and Michael Grey, July 4th, 2009.


Pre-natal yoga should include dynamic movement and strengthening. Giving birth is hard work and a commitment to exercising throughout pregnancy has scientifically proven physical and mental benefits. Also important is the practice of slowing down and allowing the body to rest. Practicing meditation and simple restorative asanas provide a perfect balance for the pregnant woman and her baby, and teach a woman how to surrender to the natural process.

Teaching Pre-Natal Yoga is a ten hour workshop to teach us how we can best support pregnant women in our regular yoga classes, as well as learn how to teach an accessible pre-natal class. Suitable for all yoga teachers, we will cover:

• Physiology and hormonal changes for each trimester
• Exercise guidelines for normal pregnancy
• High risk pregnancies and contraindications for exercise
• Common complaints in pregnancy and how yoga can help (and hinder)
• Ayurvedic wisdom for pregnancy
• Namaskars for pregnancy
• A balanced sequence that includes modifications and the usage of props to support growing bodies
• Mantra, meditation, visualizations and restorative postures for pregnant women

Teaching Pre-Natal Yoga with Nicky Poole
10Hr Intensive – July 18 & 19

This course may be used as an elective credit towards the Downward Dog RYS 300hr Advanced Teacher Training.

Nicky is an E-RYT500 with the Yoga Alliance and a Registered Pre-Natal yoga teacher. Nicky has also completed DONA doula training and is the mother of two boys. She has been sharing yoga with pregnant women and families for over ten years in Canada and Vietnam. www.nickypoole.com