I love pregnancy yoga and its taught me a lot. In this three part series I’m going to share three important things I’ve learnt from pregnancy yoga. These are things that every yoga teacher should know about, whether they ever teach pregnancy yoga or not.
In my experience I get 90% or more women in my yoga classes, I guess it’s similar for other yoga teachers that I know. However there was one class in a studio I taught at which was full of young gay men, and it got me thinking, would that yoga teacher still enjoy some of the aspects of pregnancy yoga? Were they missing out? And yes I think so and here’s why, the first thing pregnancy yoga has really taught me.
Number one, yoga is not about how you look.
We know this, but we forget it all the time. We are bombarded with images of slim, mainly white women, in tight clothes doing difficult poses, on the beach and fair play to them. Pregnancy is a really difficult time for a lot of people, and some of that can come down to our expectation of how our body should feel and look, and especially how it should look.
If you’re living in the 21st century, and you’re a woman, you have lots of ideas and beliefs about how your body should look. These ideas are in the ether. They are being forced upon you whether you agree with them or not, whether you’re conscious of them or not. Just by watching advertising, films, T.V. and being exposed to the media in general. We live in a patriarchal system. You will have been taught on some level certain things about your body, for example being called fat is a terrible thing, the worst. It’s very rude to say someone is fat.
People love motherhood, mothers are revered but there is still all this fear about getting fat and strangers will comment on how huge you are or your neat bump or that your bump is really small.
All of this stuff about the body is around whether you are pregnant or not, but when you are gaining weight every week and feeling your body changing, it can lead to lots of anxiety about this. If you are a yogi and you have gained confidence in your life through your asana practice, what happens when some of those poses aren’t accessible to you anymore? When you don’t look or feel the same? Maybe you don’t look like the other girls on instagram.
Well good news is yoga is not about how you look. It never was. Yoga is about that inner connection, self acceptance and self love. You might not be able to put your head on the floor in child’s pose but who cares. Yoga is about connection, and wholeness. What is child’s pose about for you? For me it’s rest, grounding, bringing the over-thinking head down to the earth. Can you find that connection to being grounded and held by yourself in a modified child’s pose? Can you offer that to your students?
PS. If you are interested in learning more about fat phobia I recommend you check out Danish comedienne Sophie Hagan, clever, funny and gloriously fat.
PPS. If you’d like to understand more about the life for a yogi of colour, check out Monique’s cool insta