Hi, my name is Rebecca Brunette, and I’m thrilled to be guest writing for Toronto Yoga Mamas today! As a recent graduate of the Blooma Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training (PYTT), I’ll be sharing some of this amazing journey. My decision to participate came from a place of curiosity — I was pregnant for the very first time, with no idea how to modify my practice to my body’s changing needs. Like many mamas-to- be, I was eager to stay active, and looking for guidance on how to do so safely. Ultimately, I wanted to help other pregnant woman do the same, and was ready to use myself as a guinea pig throughout the training! I expected to walk out the studio doors feeling confident in my ability to share yoga with expectant mamas (and I certainly did), but what I gained from the training was far richer than I could have imagined.
Here are the 5 things I didn’t expect to gain along the way:
1. A Tribe
Forget the typical team-building circle, where parties reluctantly share their name and favourite food in order to get to know one another; our PYTT began with a thoughtfully guided ‘Welcome Ceremony’ complete with dimmed lighting and gentle music. Women of different ages and from all over the world were joined together in this sacred space! With a nod to our female ancestors, we honoured each woman’s reason for being present. I could tell we were already embarking on a special journey as a tribe, rather than individuals. Over the course of the training we ladies developed a real kinship. We shared a lot of laughs and, in true teacher training fashion, the occasional tear. But, what really blew me away was that this tribe of fiercely supportive women stuck together after the training was done. A year later and we’re still reaching out for advice on class themes and music resources, while providing each other with tons of encouragement. Practicing teacher or not, everyone is keeping in touch, and this support has meant the world to me!
2. A Gateway
A common thread among the women in our training, other than a love of yoga, was an interest in health. Woman’s health, nutrition, fitness, phycology, postnatal care; everyone had some background in or curiosity for human wellbeing. It was incredible to experience prenatal yoga alongside women with expertise in so many different areas! Not only did their expertise add a lot of depth to the content I was learning, but it’s also continued to be an incredible resource for me. Since yoga is considered a wellness offering, students often ask their teachers for recommendations for alternative caregivers and specialists. It’s great to have a trusted community at your fingertips that you can refer your students to, especially one that shares an understanding of yoga. Massage therapists, Chiropractors, and Pelvic Floor Specialists all compliment a healthy yoga practice. I for one have been seeing my massage therapist on a more regular basis, which keeps me in-tune with my muscular health, not to mention extremely relaxed!
Who really sits around contemplating the miracle that is birth? Certainly not me, and I was pregnant at the time! Up until the training, delivery seemed miles away. I had an over-simplified concept that delivering a baby would just sort of happen to me. Toss me in a yoga training that was all-things-pregnancy and boy was I surprised to find out how varied and unique the birth experience is to every woman. Some women want to deliver in the comfort of home, others wouldn’t dream of being anywhere but a trusted hospital. There are women who choose to give birth vaginally, those who prefer to book a C-Section, and those who medically have no choice. These choices are laced with emotional and psychological effects, which linger long after the ‘push’ is over; I soon developed a massive appreciation for each woman’s desire (and right) to choose her own birth experience.
4. How To "Hold Space"
The poster girl of pregnancy glows from head to toe, a well of fertility, beaming with life. But, like the varied ways in which mamas choose to give birth, the pregnancy journey is just as diverse — Simply put, not every mama is glowing. Some days morning sickness sucks, toddlers are relentless, and the in-laws are jerks. I’ve learnt that as a teacher, you have to be conscious of your biases, as well as the tone you set in your class. ‘Holding space’ for mamas means maintaining a safe environment in the studio. Every student should feel free to come as they are, without any pressure to be something they aren’t on any given day. True, this means a mama may need to cry, or do nothing but lay in child’s pose throughout your class, but your job as a teacher is to create a space where this is OK.
One of the amazing things about practicing empathy for others is that it’s difficult to do without also extending oneself the same courtesy. The Blooma PYTT taught me to support, encourage, listen to, and appreciate other women, and I realized that I deserved this kind of radical love from myself! Over time — and with continued practice — I’ve learned to be kinder to myself; more patient and nurturing. To focus on positive internal speech, and to witness the wisdom of my body with wonder and awe. Most importantly I’m learning to measure my successes by way of personal growth, rather than comparing myself to any other mama. Admittedly, a competitive spirit can serve you well in other aspects of life and work, but as a prenatal yoga teacher in training, you’d best leave it at the studio door.
Beyond learning which poses are appropriate during pregnancy, and how to teach them, the Blooma PYTT opened my mind to ‘the season’ of pregnancy in a way I never imagined possible. I graduated as more than just a capable prenatal teacher; I also grew personally one hundred fold! Whether you’re a yoga teacher looking to expand your expertise, a pregnant woman in search of ways to adapt your practice, or simply curious about the pregnancy + yoga journey, I hope Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training will be as life changing for you as it was for me!