Rocio and her husband were my first “real students”. Before that was just me annoying some of my friends to practice my teaching skills on them. I tried to teach them from my own practice and what I could remember about asana alignment from my classes with Kasia. That was the moment when I realized how hard it is to explain to someone else what you experience in your own body and mind. Words would not come out even though in my mind I knew what I should say.
I started teaching Rocio and V. in June 2015 after I got back from my first trip and teacher training in Rishikesh, India. They were coming every Tuesday & Thursday morning for the 9 am class. I was so happy to teach these classes for them! Being complete beginners in yoga, even though they’ve been practicing a bit of Pilates in the past, gave me an even bigger responsibility as a teacher. If they love it or hate might be because of me as well. So of course I wanted them to love the practice 😀
Rocio got hooked on yoga and became a dedicated student. I was happy to see her making progress in her practice and coming to the class even on days when her motivation has not at its highest peak. I was happy to see her doing her best, understanding more about herself and of course seeing her peaceful face at the end of each class. What better reward could a teacher get?
After she got pregnant, Rocio continued to attend the regular Unfold Your Mat classes while of course doing the obvious modifications suitable for pregnancy. She was following her own rhythm, modifying some postures and in my opinion, this was a time in which she did a considerate amount of progress in her practice. The pregnancy increased her awareness and made her get more into the “real yoga”.
As a regular yoga practitioner, you can pretty much follow almost everything in a regular class during a healthy pregnancy. Practicing yoga while pregnant makes your body strong, prepares you for giving birth, balances your hormones and your emotions and prevents possible typical pregnancy pains and aches. On top of that, it helps to accept the continuous changes in your body and get connected with the new life growing inside your womb.
Here is a raw and unedited interview I did with Rocio in the last stage of her pregnancy. Meanwhile baby F. was born. She is super healthy and cute, rocking her yoga baby outfit ♥ ♥ ♥
Rocio had her last yoga class on a Monday, 2 days before giving birth. I am so proud of her and I think she’s an inspiration for many of us! Thousand thanks for your trust Rocio! ♥
The reason why we did this interview is to show you how amazingly beautiful this practice can be in pregnancy and to encourage more and more women out there to keep practicing yoga while pregnant regardless on how moody and difficult some days can be. There is a therapeutic aspect of this practice and it’s a pity not to benefit from it.
Lavinia: Hello Rocio! Happy that you want to share your yoga journey, as well as your pregnancy story with us! Thank you so much for this! Can you please tell us a few things about your yoga journey? When did you start practicing and what made you continue after your first class?
Rocio: Hi! I am happy to tell you my story! 🙂 I heard about yoga maybe some years ago. I´ve got a friend who was always telling me how good it was for her stress and posture. But I didn’t tried it; I thought it was only related to static postures (I’ve always been more attracted to more dynamic exercises like dancing, aerobic, etc.) But after coming to Sweden I wanted to learn to meditate and relax myself while doing some kind of exercise. So I decided to give it a try. I went to the gym near my home and I discovered 2 things: there was an active version of yoga (good because that was what I wanted) and second, you sweat and have stiffness in parts of the body you didn’t know they exist. The problem was that at that time I was learning Swedish and I couldn’t follow the class, neither concentrate. Plus all the people there seemed really crazy about killing themselves of effort while doing exercises; or that it was my sensation.
So 2 years after I tried again when Unfold Your Mat was born. And then, I discovered how a proper posture and a proper breathing while doing the exercise were crucial to get the maximal benefit of yoga. I finished the first class tired and sweaty but stretched, my body felt lighter, my back was straight and I was calm and happy. Because of that sensation of calm, I decided to continue. And then, after four classes I discovered that doing yoga did not only help my mind to be quiet, but also I felt more energy and flexibility.
Lavinia: Have you noticed some changes in your body, mind and /or daily life due to your regular practice? If yes, can you please detail?
Rocio: Yoga helped me from the beginning to disconnect myself from my daily routine, I forgot the work I had to do, the exams or worries. Yoga requires a lot of concentration in yourself, first you start focusing in some body parts to do a proper asana, but then you increase that concentration to the rest of the body. So your focus expands to the whole body, it becomes easier to notice it as a unity, not just individual parts. I learned to appreciate it and how breathing properly helped to follow the rhythm of the series and kept my mind focused on just what I was doing at that moment.
Lavinia: A few months ago you found out that you will be a mom. What made you get on your mat after finding out that you are pregnant?
Rocio: I didn´t want to stop doing exercise, and I read that yoga was one of the exercises recommended in pregnancy (plus swimming and walking). Besides, after taking some days without doing it I really feel the need of practicing yoga again. So I knew I would need to continue with it. It´s so much the benefit that you don´t want to abandon it so easily.
Lavinia: Have you noticed any changes in your practice compared to your practice before the pregnancy? If yes, what do you feel it has changed, not only physically, but mentally, emotionally?
Rocio: That is a difficult question because pregnancy means basically a big change in your body and your mind. The difference is that these changes are surprising, unexpected and continuous while in yoga the changes in your body and mind come fluently.
Thanks to yoga you become even more aware of what is happening in your body, it is working hard to grow another life inside. So yoga helps me to concentrate even more on physical changes, to understand the body complexity better. It also helps me consider how my limits are different now, how there are things I can´t do anymore and accept that. It takes time, but it happens. One day you realize you can not do what you previously expected, not only with the practice you had in yoga, but also with your routines you had in your non-pregnant life. You become different, more sensitive, more forgetful and feel more vulnerable; and you can´t change that even if you want. Yoga helps to lighten those frustrations.
Lavinia: How did you adapt your own practice when you knew you were pregnant?
Rocio: Because you become more conscious about your body, you know better your limitations, so you adapt the practice to what you “feel” it fits you and won´t harm you. Yes, I feel when there are some asanas that are not good for one day but maybe I am fine with them another day. I also feel how my body starts to complain sometimes, so I just stop doing what I was doing. But you need to do everything carefully and listen to what your body is telling you at that moment.
I get tired more easily because pregnancy increases blood circulation, it consumes more oxygen than the usual one. So you have to adapt to what you can do and really focus in the breathing so you don´t loose the breathing rhythm ever! The baby inside is “breathing” from you too! So you have to be aware of your respiration and don´t stop it.
Lavinia: What kind of poses you took out from your practice and why?
Rocio: There are also what I call “safety limitations” with some asanas. Even if I feel I can do a headstand I am not going to risk and fall down. That is something that makes me a bit annoyed (seeing photos of crazy-sporty-pregnant women doing risky asanas). Even if you haven´t fallen in all your life, your body is different now (pregnancy makes you have loose joints) so you can´t control it as easily as before. So all the asanas that imply to make a big effort in balance I avoid them.
I also have always a wall beside me so I have a support just in case. For example, warrior postures wouldn’t imply a big effort before, but now I have to be very careful and I do them really slow so I don´t lose equilibrium. Also with the tree pose that I really enjoy doing it right now.
The same applies for those postures that train my abs (planks, cobra, etc), I am not going to force them more than they are working right now. The teacher also knows which are the ones that imply working those muscles. The ones that reinforces the inner abs and lateral are really good for preparing your pregnancy because they will be strong for sustaining all the weight of the uterus.
Then I have the limits of my belly dimensions. Now I am in the eight month, so my belly is big, I feel big. And I if I have to fold down I have to open my legs so the belly is not pressed. I do my own version of sun salutation with the legs open for example and the knees slightly bend too.
Lavinia: A lot of pregnant women suffer from back pain because of the extra weight and because everything is so front heavy. Have you experienced any of these?
Rocio: I feel super good with yoga, I haven´t had any back pains, I had them before practicing because I was sitting bad in front of the computer or cycling or whatever. But my back is strong now, even with the belly! I´ve learnt to stay on my feet properly and seat properly so no pains! 😀
I sometimes feel the hips expanding and that my pelvis is changing and that aches sometimes. But it´s natural.
Lavinia: How does the practice look like at the moment?
Rocio: I am in the 36 week of pregnancy so right now everyday is different, I focus a lot more now in breathing because I am going to need it for the birth, I get tired very easily now, I don´t have space in the lungs to breath anymore, so my practice is doing basic asanas very slow and controlled.
Lavinia: What is your favorite asana(s) at the moment?
Rocio: My favorite is puppy pose! And after cat-cow, sitting in burmese pose, and backbends! Why? The puppy-pose release all the weight of the belly, it makes space for the baby to move and replace himself in the correct position and it straights all my back so nicely! The same occurs with backbends and cat-cow. The burmese pose I use it to breath.
Lavinia: What is your favorite yoga breathing technique at the moment?
Rocio: While in burmese pose I like to do a few Ujjayi breathing or alternate nostrils at the beginning so I breath with both nostrils properly first (pregnancy makes me have my nostrils bleed, I have more allergy, etc.) and then I just do normal breathing, because that is what I need to do during the future contractions, to relax all the muscles and decrease the pain.
Lavinia: Do you feel that practicing during the pregnancy has made any difference on how you and your baby are feeling?
Rocio: Yes! it´s what I was telling before, I feel more consciousness about my body and how I feel. That improves my wellbeing in general and also the baby likes to move around while I am moving, that is very nice too!
Lavinia: Why did you choose to join the regular Unfold Your Mat classes and not a class especially designed for pregnant women?
Rocio: Well, pregnant women classes are for women who haven´t done yoga before and I’ve seen some videos in Youtube and I just feel they were too slow and basic for what I was doing… Now that I am in the last months I understand that I need to do it slow, but before I could do almost all the exercises and I felt strong and energetic so why not continue with what I was doing until then?
Lavinia: As a woman and your yoga teacher, I think it is very brave of you that you get on your mat even on those days when the energy is not the highest (which is absolutely normal in pregnancy). What motivates you to get on your mat on those days when the pregnancy’s mood swings, hormonal changes or tiredness manifest themselves at their best?
Rocio: Well, there are days in which I am really tired and I feel I need to rest, so just doing breathing exercises is ok. The days that I stay on the mat even if I have low energy is because I know that yoga helps me keep going, gives me energy and I sleep really well after the classes. Even if I just do some asanas or I limit myself to sun-salutation, or standing poses (some days my hips don´t want to stretch) I know I´ll rest much better than those days I don´t do anything at all. And at the end of the pregnancy a good sleep is almost a miracle 😛 I also feel that the belly goes up again, so is less heavy. Usually the belly is higher in the mornings than late in the evenings. So by doing yoga in the evening my belly continues to be high and is easier to carry. I am pretty sure that the baby feels also the difference in the space.
I enjoy the classes because they are always different, Lavinia makes them unique and we learn something new every session. Every new practice is different from the last one! And I really like the people in the group, even if we have different levels of training I don´t feel any kind of competitiveness and I like to see that we are so different and accommodate to our different levels and everything works!
Lavinia: Thank you so much Rocio! Thank you for your trust in guiding your practice and for being an inspiration for everyone out there! Is there anything else you’d like to share with us? 🙂
Rocio: Sometimes is difficult to relax in asana because the baby is kicking, which I think is funny: everybody almost asleep and super relaxed and one little person that mixed up a yoga class with a kick-boxing one.
Read more about pregnancy yoga in the interview with our student Leila.
©Unfold Your Mat 2016