Ep 135: How to Modify for the Prenatal Student with Rena Wren
When teaching prenatal yoga, or pregnant students, what are the poses you should avoid? Can you teach twists, inversions or front extensions? What are some modifications I can cue, or props I can use to cater to the needs of my pregnant students? All your questions are going to be answered on this episode with Rena Wren.
Rena Wren is one of our MamaNurture lead trainers, and the founder of Empowered Yoga Teaching, where she provides continuing education and support for yoga teachers. Apart from prenatal yoga teacher training through MamaNurture, she offers yin yoga training, and yoga teacher mentoring on a wide range of topics, as well as workshops, retreats, and online courses.
Contraindicated yoga during pregnancy covers eight main areas. Shannon and Rena dive into each of these, as well as modifications and variations that you can cue for your pregnant students and in your prenatal class. Be sure to check out the free PDF Download and Rena’s videos where she shares variations you can use.
If you have ever taught prenatal yoga or had a pregnant student come to your class, this episode is going to be a real treat. It is full of tips and modifications that you can immediately start applying to any of your prenatal classes or to work with pregnant students.
[5:38] Shannon introduces her guest for this episode – Rena Wren.
[8:04] How did Rena get started on her yoga journey?
[12:35] Rena juggles multiple roles and responsibilities. She shares how yoga has helped her find balance in what she does.
“One of the main things I’ve learned from yoga is to know the things that I value, and to make sure that I have enough of those things in my life to help me have balance.” ~ Rena Wren
[15:09] Check out the PDF download for the 8 contraindicated poses during pregnancy.
[16:03] Shannon and Rena discuss the first contraindicated pose – Breath retention and/or strong, forced breathing. What are some of Rena’s favorite modifications for this?
[17:47] Advanced poses that challenge and build heat are second on the list. How can you tell when certain poses are advanced?
[22:31] What are some modifications Rena recommends to avoid poses that engage and/or stretch the rectus abdominis muscles (e.g. boat, crow, leg lifts)?
[27:18] Front extensions can overstretch the abdominal muscles. Rena walks us through a modification of camel pose for the pregnant body.
[30:11] Inversions are contraindicated for pregnancy. How would Rena modify the headstand, handstand, shoulder stand and downward dog poses?
[36:46] What are some of Rena’s favorite variations for prone poses?
[40:05] How can you identify closed twist poses and what are some modifications you can offer?
[44:54] The last one is hot yoga. Shannon and Rena discuss why they would not teach hot yoga to pregnant people.
“Getting people to slow down and feel nurtured in a space really helps them realize that they don’t really care about their idea of yoga was anymore. They care that they feel good when they leave this room.” ~ Rena Wren
[47:15] Check out the live video from September 16 to find out more about caution poses in the grey area.
[47:48] Rena has some final insights on how teachers can approach having a pregnant student in their class.
“One of the first things to do …is [think about] what are the benefits, what are we trying to do?” ~ Rena Wren
[49:39] Rena has a MamaNurture training coming up!
[52:05] Shannon shares some details about upcoming teacher trainings that are available.
[53:12] Shannon has an update about MamaNurture and all the work she is doing with niching down.
- Rena Wren
- 8-hour Online Prenatal Training with Rena Wren
- Empowered Yoga Teaching
- PDF of Contraindicated Yoga During Pregnancy
- The Connected Yoga Teacher Podcast Episode 089: Yoga for Stress Management with Courtney Butler-Robinson
- MamaNurture Facebook Page
- MamamNurture Mondays Videos
- Camel Variations Video with Rena
- Inversions Variations Video – Legs Up the Wall with Rena
- Closed Twists Variation Video
- Online Workshop with Shannon & Rena (replay sign up on homepage) – (Training is no longer being offered by Shannon Crow because she has niched down)
- Work with Shannon 1:1
- MamaNurture Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training in Conway, Arkansas – (Training is no longer being offered by Shannon Crow because she has niched down)
Gratitude to our Sponsors Schedulicity and MamaNurture.
I love the community that you have created for yoga of teachers in order to empower students and teachers alike, through a diverse interesting group of guests that are featured on your podcast. However I am reaching out after being disappointed with this episode on prenatal yoga. Earlier this year, my son was born. As an 800 hr certified Jivamukti Yoga teacher…my practice was a saving grace during my pregnancy. The only part of my day where i felt “normal” as I struggled with details of what a high risk pregnancy entails. I modified my practice…bc i felt surrounded by teachers and yogi friends who knew my practice and skill level and helped me decide what was an appropriate want to slow my practice and make space literally and metaphorically for the baby coming into my life. I was disappointed about some of the information provided on this episode that I would argue is simply inaccurate. The LAST thing a soon to be new mom who is likely scared about everything in their reality that is about to change (even the steady rock of their practice) — needs to hear is “you cant / shouldn’t do….” followed by a list of asanas including down dog with the suggestion that this would put their baby at risk. OT DOESNT EMPOWER THE MOTHER! And adds extra stress that is also unneeded. Not only is DD (for example…mentioned on this podcast) absolutely safe to practice while pregnant…the real question is – what is the students level of practice before pregnancy as that should be the determining factor for how to modify while pregnant. Moreover, if teachers are in the practice of being aware of their students in class – ie. not practicing but rather watching the room (even if its the first time someone has come to their class)…there is no reason a pregnant woman cannot participate in 95% of a class (typically designed for a non pregnant practitioner). In the future i hope you will continue to hold space for a more robust conversations around prenatal — with multiple viewpoints. So we might support pregnant students and teachers teaching to pregnant students alike — thereby facilitating a space that helps us deepen our practice collectively through informed and accurate modifications for safety.
many thanks, dorothy keady
Hi Dorothy! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this episode. It matters that we hear many opinions – that is what makes a strong community, so I am glad that you felt comfortable enough to share feedback when a message doesn’t sit well with you. It helps me to see that we can look at the delivery of this content a little more.
I 100% agree that each yoga practitioner and each yoga teacher are responsible for how they practice and teach and that empowering language is better than fear-based language. I would like to clarify that Rena and I were sharing the yoga poses that we avoid teaching and the ones that are cautioned for certain students. We don’t use language like “you can’t or you shouldn’t” when teaching. Downward dog is in the list of poses that are cautioned and from the start of our MamaNurture school, we educated teachers on the risks involved and the suggestions from a variety of prenatal experts. Kim and I did a whole podcast on this alone and you will hear that we have both taught downward dog in prenatal yoga classes. Click here if you want to have a listen to that. We talk about both sides of why we have and have not taught this over the years.
When we work with yoga teachers in our 85-hour training – we tell them the MamaNurture list of poses that we don’t teach and the reasons why and then we tell them the ones that are on the cautioned list. Our intention is to offer the information, so they can decide what they want to teach. We actually have a 1.5-hour online training to cover all of the cautioned poses, so that all teachers can watch it and decide. Click here to watch that free training.
Again I really appreciate your comment here. It will sit in the back of my mind the next time I share this information and I will make sure to open with — here is our list and our reasons — and include language that empowers teachers to feel like they can choose.
*sorry for typos my son hit my hand as i was proof reading … #yogateacherlife #yogamomlife 🤪