Downward Dog in Prenatal Yoga with Kim MacDonald-Heildant and Shannon Crow

Shannon met Kim MacDonald-Heildant at a prenatal yoga teacher training and they bonded over their enthusiasm for this area of expertise. Leaving the training with even more questions, Shannon and Kim decided to join forces. They felt that while every teacher and training brought them valuable experience, they wanted to expand on what they learned to incorporate the research and experience they’ve gained since.

Shannon and Kim co-founded Mama Nurture to provide a 100-hour prenatal yoga teacher training (PYTT) that spends more time on all the wonderful aspects of prenatal that are often only touched on in PYTT (e.g. postnatal and fertility) while expanding on anatomy. Their website also provides great resources such as articles, breath practices and yoga sequences.

Kim was drawn to yoga as a self-care practice and became even more enthusiastic about the practice when she became pregnant. She enjoyed her pregnancies and the way yoga enhanced her experience. This positive relationship led her to enrol in a 200-hour YTT followed by a PYTT and is now a certified children’s and prenatal yoga teacher.  She is also a mother of 2, a teacher, co-owner and director of Gibbons Park Montessori School as well as the founder of Live Laugh Breathe Yoga.

Shannon and Kim found that one of the most common questions from yoga teachers in prenatal training is: “Can I teach downward dog to pregnant yoga students?” There are many opinions about this. Shannon and Kim are going to share their opinions which they emphasize are not meant to be a definitive answer. In fact, through listening to each other they’ve switched positions!

As Shannon and Kim say: “No one yoga pose is good for everyone. No one yoga pose is bad for everyone.” They explore reasons why downward dog is on their caution list and offer alternative poses that can provide some of the same benefits.

[7:20] Kim’s yoga journey

[9:00] What inspired Kim and Shannon to create their own prenatal yoga teacher training

[10:45] Kim’s thoughts on prenatal and downward dog

[12:25] How Shannon and Kim ended up switching their positions on downward dog in prenatal yoga

[13:35] Article written by Kim and Shannon

Can I Teach Downward Dog to Prenatal Yoga Students

[14:10] Reasons Kim and Shannon caution, take out, or only offer downward dog as an option in their classes:

[14:25]  1) Unnecessary strain on the low back

[15:45]  2) Can cause or exacerbate heartburn and nausea

[16:45]  3) Most prenatal students are beginners and downward dog is not a beginner pose

[18:30]  4) Can irritate carpal tunnel which is common in pregnant women

[19:20]  5) It can cause baby to turn

[20:40]  6) Can increase round ligament pain

[21:15]  7) Can affect very low or high blood pressure

[23:35] Kim and Shannon’s favourite pose for prenatal students- Puppy Pose

[25:10] Kim and Shannon’s cueing for downward dog for a prenatal student that wants to attempt the pose

[26:25] To stretch out the calf muscles- Modified Big Toe Pose

[27:55] Bird Dog Pose

[28:45] Legs Up the Wall

[29:20] Half Forward Fold

[30:50] Kim’s words of wisdom when it comes to incorporating Downward Dog- “Try to let go with what’s expected of you.” Observe your class, don’t be afraid to ask how it feels for your students, your students may do it because they feel like they should, not because it works for them

[31:55] Kim and Shannon want to share their information and experience to help others make a more informed opinion about downward dog in prenatal- no absolute answer

[33:15] Shannon’s closing thoughts- ask yourself what benefit do you want to gain from a pose?


Gibbons Park Montessori School

MamaNurture Article: Can I Teach Downward Dog to Prenatal Yoga Students

PDF: 8 Contraindications for pregnant yoga students (to get the list sign up on the homepage)

Mama Nurture Teacher Training (RPYT) – (Training is no longer being offered by Shannon Crow because she has niched down)

TCYT Podcast 033: A New Perspective with Diastasis Recti with Sinead Dufour

Spinning Babies Website

The Connected Teacher Facebook Group

Free Images Discussion on TCYT Facebook Group-A special thanks to Lindsey Larson for starting the discussion

Follow The Connected Teacher on Youtube

Book a Consultation Call with Shannon

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