It was another eventful weekend in our teacher training, as we explored two topics mostly brand new to all of us: pre-natal and post-natal yoga with Jane Austin, and the business of yoga with Darren. I found both topics not only exciting to think about, but actually pretty crucial for us all to know about at yoga teachers to be.
We began by learning about what Darren called the business of yoga, in other words, how to get jobs as yoga teachers, and how to make being a yoga teacher financially sustainable and generative. I’ve been a little daunted by this subject from the get-go, as I know that the yoga market is overly saturated right now, especially in San Francisco. Much to my surprise, Darren mollified my anxiety by explaining that even if the market is saturated, that any of us in this teacher training who commit to teaching can, and will, have full yoga teaching schedules within a year or so, if we put our intention and energy into it. I was skeptical at first, but he presented us with an array of tools and resources to begin applying, and he explained how much getting our certification through Yoga Tree would help us, as it is a well respected studio, and as it is connected to a vast network, which we will be hooked into upon graduation. He also explained that teaching yoga was advantageous in that we, as yoga teachers, don’t have to create the need or desire for yoga in our students. Unlike with so many products and services, the need is already there; we just need fill that need. This was really helpful for me to think about. Yesterday of my classmates wrote “I was just thinking how lovely it will be when we can drop in on each others yoga classes” on our shared Facebook page. It will be lovely.
Then, over the next two days, we all took a crash course on pre-natal and post-natal yoga with Jane Austin. It was really quite amazing, in part because Jane is so knowledgable. Not only is she a trained doula, midwife, and yoga instructor, but she integrates all three into her teaching seamlessly. She is also a mother of two, and we were lucky enough to get to learn from her on Mothers Day. Since I’ve been taking yoga classes, I’ve always heard yoga teachers talk about modifications for pregnancy. Sometimes, it’s seemed like modifications that I’ve heard have contradicted each other. Other times, it’s seemed like yoga instructors have been fearful of those pregnant in the room. Even other times, it’s seemed as if those pregnant get almost infantilized, if not objectified. I think that observing all of these trends has made me a little nervous about teaching pregnant yogis. This past weekend helped ameliorate some of my fears, as it provided me with a wealth of information and knowledge about the anatomy of pregnancy, and about how to responsibly integrate such knowledge into teaching yoga.
I was struck by how, in the beginning of class, Jane asked us to go around and talk about things that we had heard in other yoga classes about yoga and pregnancy. Not surprisingly, the majority of what we recounted were negative. It’s true – so often in yoga classes we hear about what to not do when pregnant. So rarely do we hear what to do, and so rarely do we hear those pregnant get asked about what feels right for them. I think that a lot of this reflects how much pregnancy is pathologized in Western culture, reflective of an entrenched sexism and over medicalization that, one could argue, actually abetted in Western projects of colonization and global domination. I’ve actually been thinking a lot about this lately, helped by thinkers such as Franz Fanon, Michel Foucault, Elizabeth Povinelli, Ann Stoller, and others. But anyway, the last thing that I think any of us our training want is to perpetuate such cycles of oppression, and now, thanks to the training, I don’t think that we will. We spent a lot of time learning about the anatomy of pregnancy, and about the benefits of certain poses, and about other poses that could create discomfort or risk during different stages of pregnancy. We learned about the benefits of strengthening certain muscles, and of opening others. We also learned about poses that were helpful to do after pregnancy. I’m really grateful for all of this knowledge, and look forward now to being able to apply it in the future.