Updated: Feb 19
What an extraordinary year 2020 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 ago if it was possible to teach yoga remotely I would have been been very doubtful; the thing I enjoy most about being a yoga teacher is getting to know my students, and having a personal connection with them. I prefer teaching smaller, longer classes which allow time for talk, and give 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 Zoom class, back in mid March was just pre-lockdown with a women called Jo, who was one of my regular pregnancy students. 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 anxious about COVID and going to hospital for antenatal appointments, not to mention giving birth, many for the first time. Everything was so unknown.
So I decided to 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.
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 but I will talk about a different pregnancy or birth related issue each week and try and get some of the women to ask questions. I always talk to anyone new to the class, as even joining a class online can feel intimidating for some. I try and 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 postnatal yoga classes, teaching online has been a huge bonus; 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 to feed or change a nappy, no one else will hear and you can turn your camera off but still be able to watch 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 made it very difficult to meet other new mums.
Although I miss teaching in person hugely, I have adapted the way I teach and I think the option of teaching online is here to stay. I, too, enjoy teaching form my own home and not having to travel so much. But the most wonderful thing for me is how I can still create that important sense of connection and support, even over the airwaves .