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
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?
MamaNurture Article: Can I Teach Downward Dog to Prenatal Yoga Students
Free Images Discussion on TCYT Facebook Group-A special thanks to Lindsey Larson for starting the discussion
Gratitude to our Sponsor Schedulicity
Redefining Stretching with Jules Mitchell
Jules Mitchell is “a student for life”. She is a massage therapist, yoga teacher and educator.
She holds a Master of Science in Exercise Science and Biomechanics from CSU Long Beach and teaches numerous workshops that combine the tradition of yoga (asana and pranayama) with her knowledge of biomechanics to educate teachers in a fun digestible way.
Jules practiced yoga for many years and at a certain point in her life felt the need to teach. The teacher training brought up so many questions for Jules that she says weren’t satisfactorily answered and realized she would have to turn to academics to answer them.
Jules came to realize and accept that there will always be a lot of questions that are unknown and one will always be learning. She tells her students at the beginning of her workshops that if they don’t leave there with more questions then she hasn’t done her job. Jules wants to impress upon yoga teachers the need to question more, the importance of scientific literacy, critical thinking and curiosity.
Shannon and Jules talk about how there are no bad poses, the importance of cueing (talking less and listening more), and questioning how poses are taught. Jules gives us an excellent example by discussing whether you keep your legs straight or bend them when performing a forward fold. Her explanation using scientific research illustrates the importance of science-informed teaching and the benefit of reading studies in a field that is ever-evolving.
Jules wants to help inform you to make your own choices as a yoga teacher, not to overwhelm you. She is working on an upcoming book tentatively titled Yoga Biomechanics: Redefining Stretching which moves far beyond what is generally understood about stretching. She explains the mechanical properties of connective tissue, the material science, the composition and architecture of tissue and emerging ideas and research along with yoga sequences. She hoping to release this information-packed book in 2018.
8:05 Jules' yoga teacher journey
10:15 An example of a question that Jules had that wasn’t answered satisfactorily in yoga teacher training
13:25 How Jules went outside the yoga teacher training for answers, but then brought information back to the yoga world
14:55 Jules' thoughts on stretching, range of motion and flexibility
17:15 Passive stretching, load and strengthening “strengthen to lengthen”
19:05 What does this look like for Jules as a yoga teacher?
“co-contraction” not so much focus on contracting some and relaxing others, how the muscles work together and how we don't need to work so hard to isolate them hopefully introducing adaptation
20:15 Restorative yoga and how it affects the tissues at a cellular level
22:25 How Jules uses research and at the same time works hard to avoid making huge assumptions
27:55 Language and cues that Jules uses now with more information- ask open-ended questions like ”How does it feel when your hand goes there?” How can we help people explore movement instead of making them afraid of it- say less, observe and let your students teach you.
30:20 Forward folds and hamstrings
33:05 Poses cannot be categorized as safe and not safe
36:40 How can we cue to enable students to pose the body as robust
39:10 What Jules feels is missing from yoga teacher training and importance of reading research studies using critical thinking
41:15 Social media and the pull Jules feels to answer questions there
42:50 Jules’ upcoming book: Yoga Biomechanics: Redefining Stretching
47:25 How to contact Jules
49:15 Shannon’s closing thoughts
Book: Yoga Biomechanics: Redefining Stretching by Jules Mitchell in 2018
Article: To Bend or Not to Bend (the Knees in a Forward Fold) by Jules Mitchell
Article: Question Everything by Jules Mitchell
Free Youtube Videos with Jules Mitchell
Gratitude to our Sponsor Schedulicity