How I have adapted and can reach a wider audience from home
By Claire Whitman
Adapting to pregnancy yoga online
What an extraordinary year it has been, we have all had to adapt and change the way we do things and in many ways it has been good for us to really think about how we live our lives, especially in relation to work.
For me personally, if you had asked me a year and a half ago if it was possible to teach yoga remotely I would have been very doubtful. The thing I enjoy most about being a yoga teacher is getting to know my students, and have a personal connection with them. I prefer teaching smaller, longer classes which allow time for talk, and gives people time and space to really open up and share. However, I have been amazed at how well I have been able to adapt my teaching online, in fact for pregnancy and postnatal classes there are huge benefits.
My first Pregnancy Yoga online class!
My first Zoom class, back in mid March 2020 was just pre-lockdown with a women called Jo, who was actually in early labour at home. She was one of my regular pregnancy students, who had come back to my classes at Triyoga Ealing for her second child and was having a home birth. She contacted me and asked if we could do a private class, as her baby was due and she was feeling apprehensive about the birth. I knew that I had to be able to carry on teaching the many women who attended my pregnancy classes particularly, as they were all understandably feeling very anxious about COVID and going to hospital to have antenatal appointments, not to mention giving birth, many for the first time. Everything was so unknown. I therefore set up a Zoom account and offered Jo a free class, as she was my Zoom ‘guinea-pig ‘and I had never taught like that before.
We spent 2 hours together, and it was a revelation, I really felt like I was in Jo’s kitchen with her and soon forgot that we were online. She had time to discuss her fears, which we resolved and then did a lovely, nourishing pregnancy yoga practice, very much tailored to help her body and mind relax before giving birth. I was pretty sure that Jo was in early labour, she looked rather glazed when I put her into relaxation at the end! I did suggest that she called her mother who was on standby. The next morning I received a text saying that she had given birth, very positively, later that night and she was Adapting to online pregnancy yoga over the moon with joy.
Adapting my classes
That first Zoom class was a wonderful beginning to a new way of teaching for me, and meant I could quickly adapt to being able to continue to teach online.
My online pregnancy classes are still a place where women can share and connect, not only with me but with each other. Depending on the size of the class I adapt to what works best. When the class is 12 women or less, I give each woman a chance to introduce herself and update the class on how she is feeling week to week. For larger classes this is not possible, so I will talk about different pregnancy or birth related issues.
Sometimes a new mother comes back with her baby, to tell her birth story which is wonderful for the other women to hear and ask her questions. I always talk to anyone new to the class, as even joining a class online can feel intimidating for some. I try to create an intimate, safe space, where everyone feels comfortable, and included.
I feel very strongly that there is too much unnecessary fear around birth, and want women to feel well prepared and relaxed when they go into labour. The more they understand about the birth process, and what to expect the less fearful they will be; for women to feel safe and secure.
Postnatal yoga online classes
For postnatal yoga classes, teaching online has been a huge bonus, for as any woman with a newborn knows, getting ready and out of the house can be really difficult. Being able to do yoga from home is perfect, with or without your baby present. The added bonus is that the babies can be muted, so if they are crying, or you need to stop and feed them or change a nappy no one else will hear, and you can turn your camera off but still be able to watch, learn and listen to the class. Some women have told me that these postnatal classes have been a lifeline in the early, often lonely days of parenting, when lockdown has made it very difficult to meet other new mums.
I am now back teaching some classes in person, which is lovely but feel the online classes are here to stay and are bigger in numbers than any studio classes I have taught before. I have women who can now join my classes from anywhere, and that has been so positive as we can reach a wider audience, all over the world! I too enjoy teaching from my own home, and not having to travel so much…..and the most wonderful thing is how I can still create that important sense of connection and support, through the airwaves.