The first few months, before the bump started showing, were easy. I even enjoyed the sense of extra flexibility that came from the hormone relaxin flooding my body. I knew I had to take care with certain things, such as deep, closed abdominal twists and strong core work such as planks and navasana (boat pose) but not having told my students yet and leading high-energy classes, I couldn't just suddenly stop and instruct verbally. I did all my cobras and upward dogs, my yogic crunches and chaturangas, my twisting lunges and wide legged postures, hoping all the while that people would think that I was just a bit belly-heavy. All this before the first scan.
Because after that, everything changed. First and foremost, I told my students, who are my closest people after family and friends, about my pregnancy. That meant that I could openly and with a valid reason change my teaching style without anyone wondering why. My students were happy for me and their reaction was really touching when they asked me to not be gone for too long, as they would miss my classes! I felt so chuffed! I thought then that pregnancy certainly isn't an obstacle to my building up my yoga classes.
And indeed, January, just as I was moving from the 4th to the 5th month of my pregnancy, was busy, busier than expected in fact: new students, new enquiries, full classes - New Year’s resolutions ran high and strong at that time! “I will have to think about a cover”, I told myself. “I can’t let such successful classes fall apart!”
I started modifying more and more for me but kept the classes strong and appropriate for my students and their goals. I didn't do as much but still did quite a lot, not totally honouring my pregnant body. And then, February appeared and with it, expected and unexpected changes. Suddenly, numbers and enquiries equally dropped and from where I had become quickly used to teaching full classes, now I had to content myself with the thought that life does get in the way of even the most dedicated of yogis. I cherished and honoured the students who were in class, but for hours after, self-doubt and worry would creep in. Why such a change from one month to the next?
As I started growing bigger, I also started teaching without a lesson plan. Going instead with intuition and according to people’s needs, based on what they had brought in the class on the day. However, as I wasn't able to do what they could do, I didn't have a real feel for what their bodies wanted or needed or were able to do. So, for a couple of classes I ended up teaching them pregnancy yoga!
In the meantime, although I had introduced modifications for myself and adapted my teaching style to mostly verbal instructions and adjustments rather than “doing with the students”, teaching four classes a week and cruelly opening my hips in postures that were in the grey area of suitability, started taking its toll on my pelvis. New, unpleasant sensations that I never thought I would experience started showing up not gradually, but suddenly and most positively! My left hip felt painful deep within and soon after, my pelvis felt as it had been split in left and right side, not a balanced whole but a wonky, unstable half and half! Unpleasant and uncomfortable as it was, it was also the thing that liberated me.
Going into March with student numbers remaining smaller than anticipated and desired, I started embracing more and more the idea of taking a break not as a necessary evil but as necessary and good business practice. Whereas I had embarked upon teaching-while-pregnant with ideas of teaching until the baby popped out, now I wholeheartedly entertained the idea of stopping a bit sooner, giving myself and my students a bit of time off and using this time to enjoy and acknowledge the changes that the pregnancy brought. I sensed that my priorities had shifted and maybe my students had sensed that too. Additionally, with the curse of being plugged in 24/7 I couldn't ignore all the other teachers, new and old, that were popping up in my news-feed with their fancy new classes and projects, leaving me with a feeling of being left behind. After all, with a more sizeable bump at 6+ months, I couldn't run as fast as they!
So, here I am now, having made peace. Maybe not entirely, but for the biggest part. Just the other Sunday I made a list of things I can do to become a better yogi even as I take a break from teaching; reading the Bhagavad Gita was one of them and this is what I'm doing these days.
On chapter 2, verse 47-48, Krishna says to Arjuna: “Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward. Work not for a reward; but never cease to do thy work. Do thy work in the peace of Yoga and, free from selfish desires, be not moved in success or in failure. Yoga is evenness of mind – a peace that is ever the same.”
So, for these last few weeks, before my maternity leave, taking Krishna’s timeless advice, I don’t look any more at the numbers that come through the door, but I look at the people. I connect and I make sure that I keep nurturing them as I have always done through yoga. I am aware that my priority now is the little person growing inside me and I'm ok with that. And, so, I have found peace. Peace and equanimity in the knowledge that everything is as it should be.