Guest blogger Lela Beem, founder of Grateful Yoga and Prenatal and Postnatal Kripalu Yoga Teacher in Evanston and the North Shore, talks about her path and her passion for prenatal yoga and more.
My interest in working with new families started when I was in college studying to be a teacher and social worker. After working as an after-school program director and a wilderness instructor for adjudicated boys, I burned out! I went to S.E. Asia and India in 2003 for 14 months, studied Buddhism and yoga, as well as taught English to Tibetan refugees. When I returned home, I decided to get my yoga teacher training at Kripalu in Western Massachusetts and take a hiatus from public schools and the juvenile corrections system.
My primary reason for teaching prenatal yoga and postnatal yoga is similar to the reason I had when teaching school: I want to support parents and kids. With yoga, I can work on a deeper level with more willing participants. Expectant and new mothers are such wonderful yoga practitioners. They are interested in the changes their bodies are going through, and they want to learn how to breath, relax and build endurance.
Prenatal yoga is a beautiful way for a mother to bond with her baby from the beginning. Yoga is an awareness practice that teaches students to be mindful of their actions and speech, as well as sensitive to the needs of their body. When expectant or new moms practice yoga, they are brought into the present moment through deep breathing and physical sensations. This cultivation of present moment awareness helps moms become more relaxed and less anxious about the future, and enjoy their pregnancy in a new way. Because the mom is able to relax and feel at ease in yoga, that sense of peace radiates into her unborn child, and into her relationships with other family members. I also teach breathing, relaxation and focusing techniques that can help a woman feel more prepared to consider natural childbirth, of which I am a strong advocate.
When I first started teaching prenatal yoga a few years ago, I wanted to encourage the moms to develop more patience and compassion toward themselves. Once the women are able to see the personal benefits of this practice, they can cultivate more patience and compassion toward their other children and partners. I see this work as something that helps the whole family, and it is my favorite type of yoga to teach. What better time to start developing self-awareness than during pregnancy? Through holistic care, I know that women can have more satisfying birth and postpartum experiences. I look forward to building relationships with students that are based on a desire to be calmer, more caring people. Yoga is just one of many modalities that facilitates this type of learning and growth, not just for the individual, but for the entire community.
Please contact me if you have any questions about the group or private classes that I teach, or you just want to say hello and maybe collaborate! I can be reached at 847-644-3623, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.gratefulyoga.com.