The Connected Yoga Teacher Podcast

108: Inclusive Language for Prenatal Yoga with Shannon Crow


How can we use inclusive language in a fertility, prenatal or postnatal yoga class so that our students feel heard, seen, accepted and welcome? This episode is a mini-training on how we as yoga teachers can make our classes more accessible and inviting through the words that we use.

Inclusive language is not something a lot of us think about or consider when we are teaching yoga. However, it is an important part of creating welcoming spaces where our students feel accepted and safe. This can be particularly complicated in a prenatal, postnatal, fertility, or baby & me yoga class.

On this episode, Shannon shares more about the different aspects to consider when it comes to inclusive language. Starting with your core values and beliefs, to your promotion and marketing materials (yes, even the images!), to the language you use during the class – Shannon dives headfirst into the kinds of inclusive language you can use in your classes, with tips, examples and templates for you to tap into.

Whether you’re trying to be more mindful of the language that you use to create a safe space for your students, or you’re wondering how to keep up with the times and include different students in their birth journey, this episode will give you plenty to think about.

Key Takeaways:

[3:57] Shannon almost backed away from doing this episode – she shares why it was so difficult for her.

[5:15] This episode is all about inclusive language.

[5:47] Inclusive language begins with your core beliefs and values. Shannon has an exercise – the “I Believe List” – for you to try out.

[9:29] Your core values and beliefs get communicated through all your promotional and marketing materials, not just through language but through your images as well.

[11:08] Getting to know your students helps you use appropriate and inclusive language. Shannon recommends a waiver form and suggests some of the topics to ask about to better understand your students.

[14:51] The next part of using inclusive language for prenatal yoga ties in with the “Welcome and What to Expect” portion of the class. Shannon shares an example that she might use to welcome students in a prenatal yoga class.

[22:15] In class with your students, what is the inclusive language that you can use?

[22:47] The first two categories of inclusive language have to do with acknowledging and including baby, and on the flip side, acknowledging self and space for the pregnant student. Shannon has some examples of how you might cue this in your class.

[25:39] In your prenatal yoga class, choose empowering and encouraging language.

[26:55] It’s important for us as yoga teachers to learn the medical language, and then to choose what you don’t want to use.

[28:14] Get comfortable talking about pelvic anatomy and different conditions that the prenatal yoga student may have.

[28:48] Part of inclusive language in a prenatal yoga class is using gender-neutral language.

[34:20] Another important part of inclusive prenatal yoga classes is being inclusive of all family dynamics, beliefs and choices.

[35:35] Shannon touches on the topic of postnatal and parenthood inclusive language.

[38:38] Birth circles are a time for new parents to share their birth story, with no judgment.

[39:53] Shannon leaves us with some final thoughts about this topic.


Gratitude to our Sponsor Schedulicity

Quotes from this episode:

“Inclusive language starts before you are standing in front of a room full of yoga students. I believe it begins with your core beliefs or values.”

“Be gentle with yourself as we go through this inclusive language and just know that we’re all learning.”

“We get to make a choice around what language we use.”

“As I’m talking about this with you today, if you feel some resistance come up, figure out where is that coming from.”

“I want to keep up with the times on this one, so that my yoga students don’t feel excluded or discriminated against.”

“The more we actually know someone’s story, the less we’re just reacting to what we’re used to, to our “normal” in society.”

“We don’t have to have the same choices, we just need to stay neutral on this, as the person who’s holding space.”

“What is the intention of the inclusive language?”

“If I can make someone feel welcome, heard, seen, accepted in my yoga class, it is totally worth it.”