Welcome! This is Part 5 in a six part series. Start at Part 1 to get caught up!
We are reaching the end of yoga teacher training, which has been a bittersweet realization. While I am exciting to be able to return to my old practice and routine (undoubtedly enhanced with the knowledge I have gained through this training), I still feel like we have only peeled back the first layer of pregnancy. How am I supposed to be able to teach and support these women when I have just only begun to learn myself? The old adage is true that a teacher only becomes good at her art by teaching. This was the case when I got my 200 hour certification, and remains so now.
While we have been slowly moving away from it over the past day or so, we fully transitioned today from learning the basic practices and sequences of prenatal yoga to discussing the more technical elements. This morning was all about how to set up a class… Like the birthing room it is important to pay attention to the elements and the woman’s surrouindings: lighting, temperature, what props are available, noise level, even the time of day. We also talked about the various components that make up the class and how much time should be allotted to each: check-in (~10-15 minutes), warm up and sun salutations (~15 minutes), standing and balance poses (15 minutes), floor work (~10 minutes), and relaxation (~15-20 minutes).
On my lunch break I visited the main branch of the Allen County Public Library and was just blown over by the place. The building was vast and airy: there was a coffee shop, plenty of spaces to sit, and a quiet hushed feel to the place. It felt almost like I was walking through an airport or mall, but with books. Browsing through the children’s section made me wish that I had Anne with me, I can just imagine the delight on her face when she saw the reading fort or fish tanks.
Lunch ended too quickly and it was back to the studio where we spent the afternoon really digging into modifications and using props to help make a pose accessible to all women. Parts were confusing because PranaYoga uses a lot of Sanskrit names in their classes, which is not the case in the studios that I have studied in before. Not being familiar with the Sanskrit it was sometimes hard keeping up with the poses we should be workshopping, but my fellow student and I managed through alright.
To end the class we went outside where the weather was beautiful and practiced a Pratyahara meditation, or the practice of sense withdrawal. This link has a beautiful meditation if you would like to try it but essentially rather than trying to mentally push experiences away, we embraced the sensations surrounding us (the sounds of traffic, the feel of the breeze, the grass beneath our seats), riding the waves as they came and went.
This practice is especially beneficial for women because in the throes of labor you cannot necessarily put yourself into a serene bubble. Contractions happen, people come in and out, surprises crop up, and the mother needs to learn how to cope with all of that. Pratyahara is learning how to be present and draw the mind inward even in the midst of chaos.
I think the timing was perfect for the lesson on a personal level, as we are poised to exit our little cocoon of learning and enter the world once more. For me this week has been a glorious retreat, that it is hard to think that tomorrow I will be driving home once more where responsibilities and commitments lie. People are not called to be separate from the world: rather we are part of the world. And what a glorious thing that is.
In Part 6 we turn our focus to the postnatal woman and her unique needs as I wrap up the series. Thank you so much for following along! As always, feel free to reach out with any questions or comments you might have.