By Laurel Hicks

Pregnancy is often a time of uncertainty and transformation. Traditionally, pregnancy is a sacred time when a mother is supported by other women, it is a time of intense change, growth, connection which culminates in not only the birth of a new being, but the birth of a mother as well.

I came to teaching prenatal yoga completely by accident. My sister was pregnant with her first child and loved her prenatal yoga classes and I was a relatively new teacher who had no idea what to do if a pregnant woman walked into class (picture deer in the headlights). This led me to register for a weekend training on prenatal yoga, just to keep the few pregnant women who stumble into my yoga classes safe. I soon learned how little I really knew. Upon returning from the prenatal yoga workshop, the owner of the studio encouraged me to add a prenatal yoga class to the schedule. I hesitantly obliged, and it was the best and most satisfying thing I have ever decided to do. The women in the prenatal class, came to yoga not only to stretch and move their body, but to connect with baby, be supported by other women, and to mentally prepare themselves for birth. And although the weekend training was eye opening and wonderful, it only provided the basics and I found I had much, much more to learn in order to serve pregnant women in a truly meaningful way!

This curiosity led to becoming a mom & baby yoga teacher, a doula, prenatal educator, licensed clinical social worker and eventually to a PhD in Social Work and Infant Mental Health (I hope to graduate next year). It has been a long road, but through it all, one thing remains evident, a safe, nurturing, supportive space for women during pregnancy is transformative. Yoga teaches us not only movement but to be still, to sit in discomfort and in ease, and to watch the ever changing landscape of the mind. I believe the ability for a woman to experience this during pregnancy truly has the capacity to affect generations. I imagine a world where parents learn to regulate their emotions and stress with techniques from meditation and yoga and then teach their children these skills. Mindful Mamas works hard to cultivate more and more spaces where pregnant and postpartum women can experience this transformative time.

Join Laurel this fall at Union Yoga when she offers Mindful Mamas Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training (85 hours – Yoga Alliance certified training). Level 1 training dates: 9:30 am – 6 pm October 14 – 17. Level 2 training dates: 9:30 am – 6 pm, November 18-21. Save $200 if you sign up before August 14th. Learn more here.

To learn more about upcoming Mom and Baby or Prenatal yoga classes at Union, click here.

About Laurel: Laurel has vast and rich knowledge of pregnancy and infancy. She is a PhD candidate in Clinical Social Work and Infant Mental Health and researches the effects of yoga and mindfulness in pregnancy and postpartum and has presented her research at national conferences. She offers psychotherapy to families in the perinatal period and also supports them as a certified labour doula. Additionally, Mindful Mamas was the first registered prenatal yoga school in Ontario.