Let us make pregnancy an occasion when we appreciate our female bodies. – Merete Leonhardt-Lupa
My name is Karine. I am a 27-year-old yoga and Stand Up Paddle board yoga instructor, also known as, SUPyoga, living in Canada. I am currently pregnant with my first child and I couldn’t be more excited for the new adventure that lies ahead. But let’s be honest, my journey through pregnancy thus far has not been all rosy and easy, and I’m not only referring to the dreaded first trimester nausea. This blog is merely an open reflection on my experience, so far, as an expecting mama, yoga instructor, and yogi. (Disclaimer: I am not a certified medical professional and I do not have the capacity to provide medical advice pertaining to you and your child’s health). My wish is that you may find comfort in knowing that you are not alone in this journey whether you are currently expecting, thinking of conceiving, or already the parent of little ones.
“I think it is not safe for you to teach anymore. You need to practice only at this point. We will see if we can find a sub for tonight but next week your class is off the schedule. Take care of you.”
I was 14-weeks pregnant when I received the above quoted email from a studio owner notifying me that I could no longer teach yoga classes because they deemed it to be “unsafe.” I had been teaching room temperature flow classes at this studio for nearly two years and I was in the midst of co-leading a YTT program at the time. I sadly had to abandon the YTT students as well as my partner mid-training as I could not for the life of me be associated to a studio that made such discriminatory and unjust comments regarding their instructors, let alone a pregnant woman. For obvious reasons, I was quite distraught and saddened by these events. I was angered and disappointed. This ultimately led to a whole lot of self-blame. Voices of doubt and fear overwhelmed me with negative thoughts.
“Having a baby will ruin your big dreams.”
“Your yoga career is over.”
“Forget all of your future plans to travel the world.”
“Your body will never be the same.”
You get the picture.
With time and support from loved ones, I healed from this event and found it in my heart to forgive this person for the hurt they caused. I also finally understood all of the typical clichés one hears regarding one door closing and another one opening, working hard on your dreams even if others don’t believe in it, and everything happening for a reason.
The biggest lesson, however, was that my pregnancy journey is no one else’s, but mine. As an expecting mama, right when your pregnancy test turns positive, your mind automatically fills with 10,000 worries you previously never had. You must learn to adapt to your rapidly changing body and growing belly, not to mention fluctuating hormones that can make you go a little nuts. Breast pain, backaches, headaches, nosebleeds, gum swelling, nausea, cramps, anxiety, vivid dreams, insomnia, you name it. On top of that, sooner than later, you will start to hear comments from colleagues, friends, family members, strangers at the grocery store, or even the barista at your local coffee shop.
“Are you finding out the sex the baby?”
“Why don’t you want to find out the sex of the baby?”
“Make sure you control your emotions, the baby can feel everything you feel.”
“Are you sure you should still be working out at the gym?”
The list goes on.
People will always have unsolicited advice regarding your pregnancy but, truth be told, this is your, and your baby’s, journey. You are blossoming life inside you and it is a beautiful thing. We should not fear losing ourselves along the way in this new adventure. When it comes to your yoga practice or your health and fitness regime, it has been proven time and time again that physical activity is beneficial to you and baby. Keep in mind that engaging in a strenuous exercise program or starting a brand new fitness regime may not be the greatest idea, but maintaining your usual movement practice is generally safe and encouraged.
You are so beautifully designed that childbearing does not automatically incapacitate you from enjoying pleasures like, spending time on your yoga mat, unless medically necessary. There is a magnitude of programs at the disposal of pregnant mamas looking to stay active. Practicing yoga through pregnancy can help reduce backaches, increase your energy, encourage better sleep, help with laboring, and aid in digestion–which is slowed by the Relaxin hormone causing bloating, excess gas, and constipation. In addition, yoga can help calm the anxious mind, as well as, help in developing good breathing techniques. Omstars offers a wonderful 40-week yoga series called, Prenatal Week-By-Week: Fertility Goddess by Sonia Ribas, specifically created for mamas-to-be. As for my personal practice, I still teach yoga classes on average 3-times per week on top of my full-time, regular work, attend the gym 3-to-4 days a week, and walk a minimum of 4-kilometers per day. I feel happier, healthier, and stronger than ever. Doors have continued to open since leaving the yoga studio and new adventures continue to brew in the horizon.
To the wonderful mamas to be, I encourage you to listen to your body and your medical professional’s advice, not someone else’s opinion or judgement. Although every woman’s pregnancy journey is different, it’s important to remember that your emotional and physical well-being is a priority.
You are strong.
You are beautiful.
You were made for this.
After all, this is your body and who knows you better than you?
Karine is a yoga instructor & SUP yoga instructor from Ottawa, Canada. She trained and coached competitively in gymnastics and dance for years and after having suffered sports related injuries, she realized the importance of safe practice and healthy movement. She enjoys the beauty of rhythm and flow by linking breath with movement. Karine makes it her goal to always remain a student – continuing to deepen her knowledge, her practice, and forever learning from her students. Learn to fall in love with taking care of yourself body, mind, and Spirit.