Labor of Love: Teaching Pregnancy Yoga

From hearing detailed stories of labor to touching swollen ankles. To discussing tips for a peaceful delivery to going over to do lists for baby’s arrival. You wouldn’t guess it is a yoga class. Yet, teaching pregnancy yoga means yoga plays a role, but not the only role. I can show you rebozo techniques, offer smoothie recipes for morning sickness and give advice on how to integrate baby into a house with pets. Yet, I don’t have children and only have fur babies that really are not the same thing as the human kind (no really!).

Most perinatal/prenatal yoga (pregnancy yoga) teachers become a perinatal teacher, because they experienced the life changing moment of childbirth and bring this to their mat to share. Quite the opposite, I decided to become a perinatal teacher to focus on the whole journey of life in my yoga teachings. Plus I was stuck in a moment when everyone around me drank some magical water and was pregnant. There was a feeling of need, as not many yoga teachers have any experience with how to teach ladies carrying an important package. In fact, I was shocked some of the advice ladies were getting in relation to what they could do in yoga whilst pregnant.  So I embarked on a journey. A journey to enter the world of everything pregnancy and postnatal.

The work is a labor of love

After completing an amazing training called Birthlight that took 7 months to complete, I realized it would take a lot more. The training itself was more coursework than my masters thesis back in the day. This is completely okay as when dealing with pregnancy you absolutely need this coursework to ensure safe teachings. For my coursework, I had 2 lovely ladies (one for perinatal and one for postnatal) who endured some of my first hours of teaching not only in relation to pregnancy, but also yoga. They were troopers.

Teaching my first group classes was both nerve wracking, but boy (or girl) do I wish some of those mamma’s could see me now. Such a different teaching style and my knowledge has grown. In addition to a crazy amount of pregnancy books on our living room shelf (and a lot of explanation to our guests as to why) and continuous weekly study through online articles and videos. Plus, further workshops completed to add more techniques to my teaching. I also became a partner yoga teacher to help add tools to my partner classes. Basically, I’m ready to deliver that baby…okay maybe we just leave that to the midwife, but you get my drift!

It is a lot of work. You need to stay up to date on the latest pregnancy trends and studies. Not only in relation to yoga, but also health and what the latest pregnancy must haves are. It is amazing to have a mother join a class who is in their second pregnancy and already a few years later, the pregnancy journey is a little different thanks to the world of information out there and 4d echos. Postnatal also plays a role as the information out there on getting back into shape after baby arrives is so mixed.

Birth Plans & Yoga Plans

Just like many have birth plans that they really want to follow. So does a yoga class. You need to stick to your theory of movement and the type of mood you want to set in class. Just like labors don’t always go as planned, so does the class. When you have a group class, everyone may be at different stages of pregnancy or different abilities/energy levels. Therefore, some things need to stay consistent and some things change. A constant adaption where the mood for my classes remain the same; I have never had a baby, so I only come from a positive place as I know nothing else. Further, I like to keep moods light and incorporate laughter in some way. Sure, it isn’t like a boot camp class, but it isn’t sitting and meditating either. We move to create space for baby and to help calm aches & pains plus tips for labor. A zone of relaxation will come at the end after we yoga flow a little.

Sometimes it is difficult as Instagram tells people to do handstands when 38 weeks pregnant or other yoga teachers say you can do a wheel or upward dog throughout pregnancy. It is hard for people to slow down. But it is so important as you want to ensure you keep your body safe and don’t compromise your body for birth and recovery.

9 months is 9 months

You meet some amazing ladies in your classes. Anyone who tries yoga during pregnancy gets an A for effort in my book. Everyone has a different story of how the pregnancy evolves both physically and emotionally. There has been some classes with some heart wrenching stories and others where we can laugh for an hour. There are these ups and downs that you need to be prepared for. You also need to be ready for that day that you get an email with a photo of new baby and a thank you. Whilst rewarding, it also means that they will not be returning to class for now as they no longer need perinatal yoga. Maybe they will join for postnatal or baby yoga or a perinatal class in a few years. So you do have to be prepared for these cycles. Just like their are cycles of baby booms and cycles of not so many babies on the way. That circle of life everyone talks about!

Speaking of amazing ladies. Probably it is from them that I learn the most. During after class cups of tea, you learn what everyone is worrying about these days, funny stories and what yoga poses have helped them and what has not. This is probably where I learn the most. In addition, I am completely still in awe of how women make the time to make it to class no matter what they are feeling or even if they are in week 42 of pregnancy. Not to mention, they have amazing folding blanket skills after savasana.

So here I still am…

Still I wonder, how I survived my first pregnancy yoga classes. In my mind, they were a bit shaky. However, a year later and more than 100 teaching hours later and many  little yogis that have entered the world later.  It is fair to say that my classes are a very different experience. I was a little in shock when the other week we had a full house in class. I had to pinch myself that they didn’t make a mistake and arrived to the wrong class. I’m not your average yoga teacher as I am indeed teaching something that I have never experienced myself. In addition, I am teaching in English in a predominantly Dutch speaking city. However, my ability to stay positive, throw on some tunes and laughs do work for many. Sure, I am not everyone’s cup of tea, but you should always go to a class with a teacher you feel comfortable with and with hugs I recommend students to someone else. Whilst many come for yoga, we venture into other territories of how to eat, sleep and things to do. More importantly, we enjoy the adventure of pregnancy together through yoga.

pregnancy image

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Blogger, Wife, Yoga Teacher, Cat mom, World explorer & Creator of disasters in the kitchen.

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