As published in Elephant Journal
”Of course I can do this. I’m pregnant, not brain-damaged. My condition doesn’t change my personality.” ~ Christine Feehan
Oh, how stoked I was to join a yoga class labeled "Dynamic Vinyasa Flow" in a town full of slow Hatha and stringent Ashtanga!
Concerned that the Saturday 9 a.m.’er would book solid, I arrived to the studio early and was checked in by the yogi’est of yogis. On a chain long enough to perfectly meet her solar plexus, her amethyst sparkled—a stone renowned for its potent metaphysical properties of spiritual growth and acceptance.
I rolled out my mat and exchanged yoga stories with the other early bird. Three more students trickled in, followed then by the teacher—a glowing, youthful yogini who smiled and asked if I had any injuries of which she should be aware.
Smiling back, I happily replied, “I’m pregnant, but I know how to modify!”
As distress replaced her smile, front desk lady—who’d overheard the exchange—bolted in, crystal swinging, and demanded, “How far along? You should have told me. The teacher always has the right to say she’s uncomfortable!”
“I’m so sorry. I… I…”
…just taught a 200 hour yoga teacher training two weeks ago. …and an inversions workshop last weekend. …added 10 pounds to my snatch and 20 to my deadlift yesterday. …am so ashamed at being scolded (and nearly poked in the eye with your pointy amethyst) that I wish my mat was a deep hole. (Please mat, swallow me!) …am never coming back here again—ever. …am a responsible human being. …am a gentle yogini who shall take into account that not everyone does any of the above whilst pregnant.
“…will be sure to alert you next time.”
I was allowed to stay, and I wish I could claim that I instantly blew it off, but it took half the class for my face to cool from the first-chakra red I could feel radiating profusely. For the duration of the 90 minutes, the teacher continuously instructed (to all five of us), “If you’re pregnant, don’t do this/skip that/take it easy…”
By the time we savasana’d and om’d, I was grateful, and both the teacher and bejeweled manager kindly complimented my practice and preggo physique. I will return to that studio. But I confess, I spent the entire sunshiny walk home realizing that I’m in a new position—a different kind of balancing posture, one that others can now see at a glance, a glance laden in preconceived notions based on personal experience and stories and studies and crystals—pregnancy.
There are endless prenatal yoga classes available at studios and online. Gyms schedule training sessions for expectant mothers. There are workout programs and exercise gatherings exclusively for the round-bellied. And most of these beautiful offerings, led by sensitive souls, are catered to those mommas-to-be who’ve come to the practice for the first time whilst pregnant.
What about those of us who have a well-established practice? Who are fortunate to feel incredible and are blessedly second trimester’ing like Wonder Woman? Who aren’t yet (and may never be) in the sit-still-and-wait phase of pregnancy?
Each pregnancy is unique and should be respected with exquisite care. Many feel ill, tired, or achy, and they need to nest. Others need to move and groove! To be embraced by the scrumptious familiarity of the practice during this fabulously unfamiliar time of life! To hip-hop with our babies, in addition to slow dancing!
Gratefully, I am a yoga teacher and am able to practice as I love at home—un-judged by the appropriately fearful; to a teacher who does not know my practice, my belly and I are a liability. My heart goes out to those who don’t have a self-practice or are discouraged by prenatal prejudices, and to others like me—who crave the energy of a flowing room full of sweaty yogis united by breath, even when some are breathing for two.
May we all invoke the metaphysical properties of the amethyst—to accept the spiritual (and uterine) growth of ourselves and others, and may the patience of those with advanced practices grow proportionately to our bellies. Namaste.