We decided we would like you to get to know our instructors a little better, so we came up with a quick Q&A. We would like to introduce you to our instructor Jen, here is her Q&A…
Tell us how you fell in love with yoga?
At this point I have been practicing for so many years I no longer remember what my life was like without it. I have had an established practice for close to 25 years. I started as a high school student with a locally recorded TV show called Yoga with Joy. I loved that Joy (the teacher) inspired followers to be comfortable with their bodies. This was especially important for me being a teenage girl with body image issues. It was not long before I became immersed in the philosophy behind these postures that Joy had shared. Before I knew it I was hooked and trying to get anyone I knew to try it.
What can clients expect from your Preparing For Birth With Yoga workshops?
First and foremost they can expect to have a positive experience. I like to incorporate so many different modalities in these workshops. Tactile and cognitive options to help women and families create a positive experience throughout pregnancy and through their birthing experience. Couples can expect to learn about themselves, and each other through individual and bonding experiences. Women can work with other women on the very personal experience of being pregnant. Partners who attend on the second day will create and build on their confidence to support mom during her pregnancy, labour and birth.
How do these workshops differ from traditional childbirth classes?
I hear from many parents who have taken other classes in addition to these types of classes. They comment that my workshops are so much fun. Partners sometimes comment that they never expected to learn so much and that what they have learned is so valuable. Students appreciate that nothing is “dumbed” down or taught to the lowest common denominator. My approach is honest and upfront I don’t believe in “sugar coating”. As well my approach is 100% non-biased. Each family will make choices on prenatal care, on childbirth and postpartum choices based on their own past experiences, knowledge and input from their family and peer circles. I don’t believe that it is my place to change their minds for my benefit. I like to offer researched based and information in a fun and useful way. Let’s also not forget the fun stuff! Journaling, art, yoga and massage. I am not sure that anyone else out there is incorporating these modalities in their classes. So many Childbirth Classes have families sitting at a table listening and watching videos. I offer a safe space for families to fully participate and discuss whatever may come up for them in this amazing journey.
What sort of things do you love to do outside of the yoga studio?
I am constantly discovering and re-discovering new things to do and try. My most enjoyable experience which I guess is part of my daily practice are the walks with my dog Stella. I also love to spend time with my 3 children. As they get older my focus with them tends to be more one on one time. Watching them grow and learn as big people is such a joy for me. During the warmer months, I spend as much time as I can on the river paddle boarding, sometimes with Stella on the front. Basically, if I’m outdoors I’m happy! I have always loved to dance and right now I am learning Ballet and am loving it. How do you find your yoga practice changed after having children?
My practice has evolved so much. When I started teaching I was heavy into Ashtanga and Power/Flow yoga. I continued my Ashtanga practice during my first pregnancy and it still felt OK. When I became pregnant for the second time I found I needed a practice that was more gentle and nurturing. This continued into my third pregnancy as well. With this, I explored and began teaching more Hatha, Beginner and Yin type classes. I found that being a mom of three and being an entrepreneur is very yang in nature. My personal practice reflects what I need to do to balance my life. When I had children I stopped seeing my practice as part of my exercise routine. I now enjoy hot sweaty workouts and running and find my asana practice compliments and allows me to balance that, but I get just as much from meditation and self-study now. When my kids were very young they started to learn that when mommy was meditating or practicing they could come and sit and watch or join in. This in itself started to change my practice as I would modify so that my children can join and feel confident in building their own practice if they chose to. I found it important to share something that is such a big part of me and who I am with my children. The most important change for my practice was the reminder to that being a mother is a practice in itself. On those mornings when I had tiny babies and had no sleep, barely any food, and my partner travelling and I was home with toddlers and exhausted, it was important to know that it was OK not to have a long practice or full practice at all. I learned to accept that meditating while breastfeeding was OK, that sometimes my only asana was Sivasana that being present in a child’s emotionally charged experience was still part of the practice. Finding Yoga in my every day, became a concept that I finally understood. Yoga Sutra 1 “Now is the Time for Yoga” does not talk about how this should be experienced through asana or meditation for example. This was huge for me. I’m happy to say that through my evolving practice I am raising one child who loves to meditate, one who loves her asana practice and the other who is into philosophy and living a compassionate life.
Tell us a bit about your experience with birth and parenting.
I sometimes think I could write a book on this but then I guess most of us with families could. My first birth changed my life. I tell my son this all the time. When I was pregnant and taking childbirth classes I had at that time asked our teacher how I could do this. When we hired a doula my husband said, “you should do that”. Giving birth to my first baby solidified this for me. My son’s birth was made for TV. I had a placental abruption at the start of pushing and as I had no pain medications, aside from the fact I was on Pitocin, I was put under a general anaesthetic. I essentially missed the birth of my first child. My partner knew I was breastfeeding so during our 8-hour separation he was not supplemented, this comforted me immensely. I have to thank my doula for helping this experience become a positive one. She pulled out the video camera as soon as my son was with my partner. The video she took captured all of the first moments, my son being held by my dad, my mom, my partner soothing him as our tiny baby held his hand. This birth had a profound effect on me. It not only changed my perception of birth but changed my life. I became a birth advocate and started an ICAN chapter that I kept running for a couple of years. I became an advocate for my own care. Before becoming pregnant I spoke with 3 OB’s and 3 midwives in hopes of gaining insight into any future experience. I did not want that experience for any future children I might have and actually considered not having more children if that was the case. My caesarean left me with emotional scars that I still work with today but also left me with a “special scar” as the incision had torn toward my cervix. I did my research, became a DONA trained doula and Certified Lamaze Educator and kept working on myself. With my second pregnancy, I found amazing midwives willing to support me in my desire for a VBAC. They did so much more. I was supported in that decision and then my subsequent decision to give birth at home. With my second birth I practiced hypnobirthing, I took walks outside, gardened, practiced yoga and cooked. At the end of the day, I gave birth to a second baby boy. This birth was not without complications (we learned that my placenta likes to detach early). My midwives were calm and supportive even when things looked like they were going the other way. My third baby came fast a furious. I think from the time my midwife arrived I was holding our baby girl about two hours later. This experience was so different as my mom had gifted us with a birthing pool that we set up in the living room. I kept thinking – doesn’t get much more hippie than this!!! Of course, once again my placenta started to detach during pushing but my midwives were calm saying to me “this is just what you do, but you gotta push!”
In between giving birth to my own three amazing children I have had the privilege of being at 30 births. My 1st and 30th being from the same family which was amazing for me. I have been so lucky to have witness home birth, hospital birth, medicated and un-medicated as well as having been present for 2 caesarean births. Watching families go through the birthing process has such an impact on me each time. I am in awe of the strength and courage shown by women and the people that love and support her. People often say to me that I must love babies, babies are OK but it is supporting women that gets me fired up! Being there, helping labouring women go through every emotion she has ever experienced all at once is so powerful. When she says at the end “I couldn’t have done it without you”, I smile because I know they could have it just would have been different.
Parenting changed my life and continues to change me every day. Becoming a mother for the first time profoundly affected how I saw things in the world. It made my corporate job where I worked sometimes 50-60 hours a week seem irrelevant and unimportant. I couldn’t wait to be with my family. So I quit. I gave up the power suit and the briefcase so that I could be home and be a mom, so that I wouldn’t miss anything. Now that I no longer have babies at home, I realize I still need to be there for them, but their needs are more emotional. The need to know that I am there if they need me, but their needs are so different now. I love being a witness to each stage my children have gone through and each stage they have yet to navigate.
What is 1 thing that people may not know about you?
Well, now I’m stumped…perhaps that I am scared. Each time I step in front of a group of expectant parents, each time I do a teacher training, each time I send my kids out into the world, every time I try something new, I’m scared. I take deep breaths so no one knows, but inside I’m trembling. I think it’s the unknown but also the known.