YogaBirth Teacher Training – Pregnancy Yoga – A Journal – Part 1
By Marcela de León Pérez
YogaBirth Teacher Training – May 2021
Back in May this year, we began our latest pregnancy yoga teacher training course with a wonderful group of women including Doulas, midwives and yoga teachers who are now deep into their journey to becoming teachers of our specialised Scaravelli inspired yoga for birth.
One of the students, Marcela de León Pérez, has begun writing a journal to document her experience of the yoga teacher training we offer. You can find her @mamagiveslight on Instagram. Grab a cuppa and whether you’re interested in signing up to our yoga teacher training or just finding out more about how our yoga teachers learn everything they know in order to deliver your favourite yoga classes, settle down and enjoy!
We have only done the intro of this YogaBirth course yesterday and I can already feel that it will have a huge impact on my life. Not only when I teach Yoga, but also when I do my own Yoga practice.
I have been attending some Scaravelli inspired classes with Judy Cameron and Peter Blackaby, and I love the awareness that it is bringing into my own Yoga practice. I continue to have a daily practice of mainly Vinyasa flow classes, and I feel that this Scaravelli inspired way of teaching and learning will enrich my practice so much.
We have now completed the first weekend of the YogaBirth course. I love the fact that we are a small group, there are a variety of professions with many midwives in the group, which is fascinating. The course is so rich in information and the tutors are very experienced.
I am starting to understand better why there is so much focus on Scaravelli style of Yoga in the YogaBirth course. The importance of slowing down, connecting and having the time to truly benefit from the yoga practice.
I’ve been really enjoying having a weekly Scaravelli inspired class added to my week’s practice. I have mainly been attending Judy Cameron’s and Peter Blackaby’s classes, I can’t wait to practice with other teachers too.
I have lately been reflecting on why this work that we do as YogaBirth teachers is so important. When people understand childbirth and are prepared for any eventualities that their journey might bring, they act from a place of knowledge, not from a place of fear.
I keep thinking about all the information on the female pelvis and its anatomy and its importance for pregnancy and childbirth. When I watched Jill Miller’s presentation on the female pelvis, I realised how much attention to detail is passed on to YogaBirth trainee teachers.
I am fascinated by the questions that Jill raised. When teaching a class and any pose, ask yourself: what is her pelvis doing now? How is this asana influencing its position?
This course is really broadening my perspective of teaching pregnancy yoga, and understanding that there is much more in a YogaBirth class apart from the yoga poses.
This weekend I attended the annual YogaBirth CPD. It was the first time that I practised and studied with Anne-Marie Zulkahari and with Gary Carter. Gary’s anatomy session was so interesting and as always, I feel so blown away by how incredibly complex and efficient the human body is. The body is intelligent and if we train it and treat it with compassion, it will respond happily.
Anne-Marie’s yoga session was beautiful and I recognised a lot of the elements that other Scaravelli teachers focus on: The importance of the feet and setting up a good foundation from the ground up, the lengthening of the spine, and the influence of gravity in everything that we do. This is ever so relevant for pregnancy and childbirth and something that I can also recognise in the YogaBirth classes.
I keep reflecting about how long I’ve wanted to do this YogaBirth course. Since 2017 I have been eager and curious to do it, but for various reasons it had not been possible. A silver lining of this Covid pandemic is that it has opened a whole new world of opportunities when it comes to teaching and learning. I find the Zoom format works so well and the dynamism that it brings to a small group of trainees is excellent. We have opportunities to get to know each other even though we are scattered all around the UK. Of course it would be so much nicer to be in the same room and share a chat and a cuppa, but given the global situation, this format works so well. I am very grateful to be able to be part of this cohort of students and I feel that I will learn not only from my tutors, but from each one of the students as well. We all bring our own professional and life experiences and this is making the course so rich and interactive.
By now I have been able to sit in at three YogaBirth classes with different teachers: Judy Cameron, Lolly Stirk and Lauren Irving. It has been so lovely to observe how even though each teacher has her own personal teaching style, professional background and level of yoga practice, they all share the same principles and focus when teaching their classes.
The focus on the feet, the breath, the spine and gravity really reflect why these classes have their roots deeply embedded in Vanda Scaravelli’s style of yoga. This approach makes yoga so much more accessible to pregnant women.
Jill Miller’s YogaBirth class at the past teacher training weekend was beautiful. The more YogaBirth classes I attend, the more I realise that it is about quality rather than quantity of yoga poses. The classes are so carefully designed so that the students can spend sufficient time in each pose, getting familiar with how it feels in their own body, exploring and bringing the attention inwards and into their breath.
The classes focus so deeply on helping women prepare for birth gradually, by weekly drawing in concepts, ideas, facts and resources that they might find useful. But most importantly, women learn to familiarise themselves with this ‘being rather than doing’ state which is so important and fundamental during pregnancy, and particularly late pregnancy, labour and childbirth.
In a fast paced culture and life, it can be challenging for most women to get into this state of being, and by weekly attending these YogaBirth classes they slowly start going into this place of calm where there is not much to do apart from relax, breathe and be in the present moment.
I could listen to Lolly Stirk talk all day! She just gave us a beautiful session about the roots and the history of YogaBirth and the relevance of the work that we do as YogaBirth teachers. YogaBirth as an organisation has its core values deeply embedded in supporting women during the childbearing years through yoga and education, by empowering them to trust their bodies and being familiar with their choices. It has made me reflect so much on why this gentle, softer kind of yoga is so relevant. This work that we do is to encourage strength in a supple way, without forcing but by trusting the body and the incredible physiological processes that occur during pregnancy, childbirth and postnatally. We are teaching a type of yoga that is much more appropriate for the female body, particularly during pregnancy.
Today we had one of our teaching practice sessions. Only two months have passed and I already feel that this course is positively influencing the way in which I teach my yoga classes. I have been teaching prenatal yoga classes for four years and even though I have the confidence and fluidity to teach a class, there is so much more that I am learning and really looking forward to sharing when I can teach my own YogaBirth classes after graduating from the course. The focus on slowing down isn’t only for the students, but for me as a teacher as well. To choose my words carefully and give the students spaces to rest and silences to enjoy.
I feel that I am learning so much from my fellow students and I really enjoy being taught by them in these teaching practices and to get familiar with each of their own personal styles of teaching.