Ham Sah – Prenatal Yoga

I had the great pleasure of spending last week doing a teacher training to learn about the specific asana (poses) that benefit and alleviate the symptoms of pregnancy. Certainly an art! Imagine 30 new moms staring at you, hanging on your every word.  Some women have taken yoga classes before and some have only recently heard from a physician or friend that it might be good for them.  Humor me. Imagine the energy of 30 loving moms who want to do the right thing for themselves and their new child.  wow. Ham Sah.

That’s how my first prenatal yoga class began.

I took my training with Barrett Reinhorn who is an extraordinary local yogini and prenatal yoga specialist.  (you can check our her website at fivepointsyoga.com)  Barrett’s taught in the region for more than a decade and as such has built  a community for mother’s who need to relax and reset their ever-changing bodies. Likewise she has perfected a sequence and variation of asana that is empowering, functional and restorative for the pregnant woman.  I learned so much!

The first day of training, we student-teachers watched Barrett teach a room filled with mothers in all weeks of pregnancy.  As the training progressed, we each taught sections of the practice.  As a grand culmination of my training, on Sunday I had the honor of subbing Barrett’s weekly class in Somerville. Like I said, 30 women looking to me. Ham Sah.

The class was packed with 30 women who needed to move.  It went well which is not to say that I didn’t learn from the experience; I certainly have several ideas of how I could have sequenced the class better and even incorporated another standing series.  Given that I couldn’t get the music to work and there was a line out the door waiting to register for class, and I felt frazzled, I began class confident enough that I felt (and conclude) that I offered something to the students.

Teaching is about practice and preparation.  You can’t stand in front of a group and fumble through notes if you want to do it well.  You can’t go spontaneously. You have to practice the yoga, practice speaking, practice directing and practice getting feedback.  And once you’ve perfected it you have to go back and refine.  It’s like a music piece with a typo.  At the end of the section you are to repeat, you keep repeating.  But don’t get careless or you’ll have to begin again!  Practicing for teaching is like practicing for a presentation.  You say it before you go to bed, in front of the mirror and while driving.  At least, I do anyway, I review the sequence.

So I practiced, in training, at home, I wrote out my class. I practiced my class and then.  Deer in headlights! Ham Sah!

There’s a bagful of humbleness needed to teach any group.  Like the little child that enjoys bossing people around to always get her way, she doesn’t realize until much later that it is better to led with fewer commands and more from inspiration, compassion and experience, which at best informs that we are not always right.  Like my Violin teacher always said- slower is faster. In yoga sometimes less is more.  As a yoga teacher, I’m not trying to create following like a church bishop or a politician.  Make your own decisions, find your own yoga. I have no absolute doctrine to promote.  I know some stuff. It works for some people.  But you can’t memorize the yoga exactly because the yoga changes. No fundamentalists here.  I’m a knowledgeable, thoughtful teacher and I teach because watching students learn and delight in the postures and their own experience is a way I feel I can give back.  There are of course moments like last night where I stand in front of a crowd and think about the my second form high school public speaking class where there were also senior boys!!  Last nights class began with some butterflies but ended, I hope, as inspiring and renewing for the students as it was for me and my teaching practice. I am certainly eager to teach more prenatal classes (in the works by October- stay tuned).

I have not experienced stage fright, since I first began teaching yoga.  Last night I was reminded that every word matters and that the breath foremost carries and gives us the yoga: Ham Sah.  Breathe in: Ham; Breathe out: SahHam. Sah. I am that. I am here now.

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