February 24, 2011

The Pregnant Teacher

I promised myself that as I progressed further along in my pregnancy, I would try to strike a balance in my blogs between sharing my personal insight and continuing the educational intention of this blog. Today, you get a commentary from me!

I am frequently asked if my teaching has changed now that I am pregnant. Well, it has and it hasn’t. The asana practice has not really changed for me. I have been fortunate that over the last 9 years of teaching the pregnant community, I have had an abundance of students. I have been able to watch the pregnant body (many of them!) through all stages of pregnancy and at different levels of ability, move through yoga asana. So far, the students (combined with an anatomical and physiological knowledge given to me by amazing teachers and physical therapists) have really taught me how to adapt the poses so that the practice feels fluid and graceful and safe! for my own pregnant body.

One of my biggest changes in teaching has been providing students with a bit more quiet space to reflect upon the ever changing experience of the pregnant body. Some weeks there are huge changes, while other weeks the shifts are more subtle. I take more time to invite the students to look and listen with their inner eyes and ears to the presence and sensations of their baby in their body. This has been one of my favorite parts of being pregnant- I love the feeling of my baby moving in my body. Of course, I’m saying this at twenty one weeks where the sensations are gentle nudges, not soccer kicks to the ribs or tap dancing on my bladder. I’ll get back to you in about ten weeks if I feel the same way about this phenomenon.

Before being pregnant, I was a leader and educator for the community at the Prenatal Yoga Center. I organized the classes and workshops and set the curriculum, as well as headed the educational aspect of the studio. Now I feel that I am more a member of the community, sharing the excitement along with the fears and concerns that crop up during pregnancy, the impending labor and birth, and the journey to motherhood.

I remember not wanting to share that I was pregnant for the first trimester because of my fear of miscarriage. So for 12 weeks, I conducted class, listened to the comments and issues of the students while trying to hide my overwhelming fatigue, nausea, nervousness, excitement and fear.

Last Friday, my husband and I went for the 20 week anatomy scan. I had decided earlier that week that it was a great time to write a blog about the 20 week scan. Writing and blogging was going well until I started to dive deeper into the research of what the ultrasound technician is actually looking for. Thinking about all the things that could go wrong with my pregnancy paralyzed me with fear. I decided to discontinue that blog until after the ultrasound was done and the results were given to me. (All is well with my little one!!)

I have also woken up in the middle of the night, practically flat on my belly, thinking, “Oh my god, did I crush my baby!” and then having to remind myself that the body and my baby are smart and strong. The baby is only the size of a long carrot right now, it is still very cartilaginous, and it is floating in a protective bag of fluid, keeping it buoyant and safe. Most importantly, I do believe my body will awaken me if there was a problem.

Although my asana teaching hasn’t changed too much as of now, a different level of relating to the students has emerged. My empathy for the fears, concerns and general confusion of pregnancy is greater then it was before.

This is not to say that those that have not been pregnant or given birth cannot be wonderful prenatal yoga teachers or childbirth educator. After all, many of our highly respected members in the field, Dr. Lamaze, Dr. Bradley, Dr. Michel Odent and countless OB/GYNS and midwives have not given birth themselves. For me, this experience is adding another layer from which I can learn, which then serves my teaching. I am excited for all the discoveries I will have on along my path, and the ways in which my pregnancy can deepen my love for practicing yoga and my passion for teaching it.



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