Where I trained…

The Kundalini Global Radically Inclusive Pregnancy Yoga Teacher Training with Carolyn Cowan.

I trained in both my initial 220-hour yoga teacher training, and to teach pregnancy and postnatal classes, with Carolyn Cowan.

I took part in Carolyn’s first ever Kundalini Global teacher training for pregnancy.

This training was a big part of my life for a considerable length of time as, in the year running up to it launching, I also worked with Carolyn as a researcher.

This training subverts the field, moving entirely away from many societal expectations of who pregnancy yoga can reach and how it is delivered.

It is an extremely big-picture training that covers an enormous array of possibilities for what can be experienced in pregnancy, and how we can work with those experiences as yoga teachers with good boundaries.

We, of course, spent a huge amount of our training looking at the physical. We examined the pregnant and postpartum body not only relative to changes everyone experiences in pregnancy and after birth, and how stretching and breathing can be used to relieve unpleasant side effects of those changes, but also in how to use yoga practices for those with specific pregnancy-related conditions such as pubis symphysis dysfunction, sciatica, carpal tunnel, high blood pressure, carrying multiples and with cervical cerclage (to name only a few of the possibilities).

We also spent a lot of the training looking at the mental health and wellbeing of the individual, on the basis of previous loss, bad scans, prejudiced systems, the medicalisation of birth, trauma histories, being pregnant in (and beyond) a pandemic, and much more. We explored how the way we teach, what we teach, and how we frame our classes can be an area to give real consideration to in including more of those who have experienced these challenges in our classes.

Inclusive pregnancy yoga

We were educated in the issues and, from there, looked at how, as teachers, we can open up our classes to a wider demographic: be that on the basis of race, class, the personal journey to and through pregnancy and mental and physical hurdles within that, disability, body image, body size and shape, sexual preference or gender identity.

Carolyn, a trauma therapist who has a specialism in the pre and postnatal periods, having worked in the field for over 30-years, is an inspiring and exciting teacher trainer. As a trainee you are truly put through your paces, with the expectation that, as well as attending 100 hours of live lectures, classes, and group work, you will study outside of the course in completing five research papers, followed by an extremely thorough exam, as well as teaching plenty of pregnancy classes along the way. It’s worth it.

Following the training, I gained Yoga Alliance certification to teach yoga for pregnancy and post-birth, but what I love about having worked so hard to get here is that I feel I hold knowledge and experience beyond what any other pregnancy yoga training could have offered me.

A training that changed me

My experience of pregnancy and postnatal yoga, thus far, has been both humbling and empowering.

I had two traumatic births and a third that, I am certain through the eyes of another, could be deemed traumatic too. My body never once went into natural labour.

The awareness gained on the training meant that I can look back on these stories with new eyes.

I can now see why my body responded to pregnancy the ways that it did. I can feel my body as it was back then: existing in a state of resolute hyper arousal, terrified, contracted, pelvic floor tight, cortisol coursing… and I can know that, with the understanding I have now, things could well have been different.

Me in my role on the training, where as well as researching for Carolyn. I also took part in all live classes with pregnant women, to show the postures and breaths and be ‘the body’ Carolyn could show adjustments on, via Zoom.

“I wish I’d known this when I was pregnant” was like a mantra, from me, throughout the course. Despite this, as I said on my about page, I wouldn’t change any of it. Instead of looking back with ‘what ifs’, I am inspired to use my own experience and acquired knowledge to play a small part in the pregnancy journey of others.

My knowledge base, big picture view, and understanding of the pregnant body relative to posture and breathwork is, I believe, excellent. I am not a perfect pregnancy yoga teacher, but I am a human one.

Why ‘radical inclusivity’?

I believe it is very important to work toward radical inclusivity.

When someone is pregnant, all aspects of their life shift enormously and quickly.

In this, many experience that the reality of pregnancy does not meet the expectation…the variety of less-than-optimal experiences, from the threat of loss to poor pre-natal care, mean that pregnancy is a time where to seek solace is brave.

When it comes to pregnancy yoga, within this, the white-washed, heteronormative, thin, happy, beach-holidaying, legging-and-bra adorning, idealism, that is perpetuated in the way that yoga is most often presented/paraded on social media and in popular culture, and therefore resides in the collective consciousness of the general population, means that for many, yoga does not feel like a place, a practice, a space, where they will feel comfortable and safe. . . 

And yet, 63% of the UK population has a BMI above what is considered ‘overweight’, 22% are living in poverty, over 18 per cent are experiencing a long term illness, impairment or disability, 14% are from a BAME background, and at least 3% (official statistics place at 3% although the real figure may be much higher) identify as LGBTQIA+.

1 in 7 pregnancies come after fertility treatment, 1 in 6 are unplanned, and, in any given year, a quarter of the UK population will be struggling with an aspect of their mental health. This is a snapshot of why ‘yummy-mummy yoga,’ as Carolyn named what is often seen in the field, is not necessarily the only way forward…

If you want to learn more

If you would like to train to teach pregnancy yoga, I cannot recommend Carolyn’s course enough.

It is not an easy training, but it is a thorough, open-minded, fun, challenging, view-expanding and extremely interesting one.

It takes place online, zia Zoom. At the time of writing, the next course is due to start in March 2023. You can find more information here:

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