Rebecca is a truly unique teacher on the Yoga West team as she is both a pregnancy yoga teacher and a midwife.
Rebecca has always been fascinated by pregnancy. She completed a Midwifery degree and graduated with a First-Class Honours and now works as an Independent Midwife (a midwife who works outside of the NHS in a self-employed capacity to provide continuity of carer). By following her clients throughout their pregnancy, birth and postnatal period, she has seen how beneficial prenatal yoga practice is. Therefore, it was an easy decision to become certified as a Pregnancy and Postnatal yoga teacher with a Yoga Alliance-accredited course.
Rebecca believes whole-heartedly that pregnancy and birth can be a beautiful experience and truly unique to every woman. Rebecca’s motto is “a happy and healthy mum equals a happy and healthy baby”. A happy, and healthy mum-to-be requires her to be a fully informed and principal decision-maker in her pregnancy and birth process and Rebecca is dedicated to empowering women achieve this. Her pregnancy and postnatal yoga classes will focus on promoting a healthy pregnancy, ensure optimal fetal positioning for an easier labour and birth, and enable a smooth postnatal recovery whilst strengthening their bond with their new baby.
Join her every Sunday for pregnancy yoga, 11:45-13:00 and her next Yoga for Birth workshop on 1 September, 13:15-15:15.
We asked Rebecca to share a little about her personal journey into yoga and midwifery:
How did you get into yoga?
I went to my first yoga class whilst at university and found it really enjoyable – I used to practise rhythmic gymnastics when I was younger and so had maintained some level of flexibility. That was 17 years ago and since then I’ve been going to classes all over the world such as Sydney, Dubai, New York to name a few. I have tried various types of yoga, but vinyasa flow is my favourite, although I am keen to try my hand at acroyoga!
Was there a moment when you realised that you wanted to pursue yoga seriously?
I lived in Dubai working for an airline and took my mat with me to all the corners of the globe. However, it wasn’t until I moved to London 7 years ago and became a midwife that I decided to undertake my pregnancy yoga teacher training. Having a midwifery background and my long-standing yoga practice it felt so right to combine my two passions. I could see first-hand the huge benefits it had on women who used yoga techniques to cope with their labour. Furthermore, I want to inspire women to be the best version of themselves and empower them to have a positive journey into motherhood and teaching pregnancy yoga is one of the ways I can achieve this.
How has yoga changed you?
Over the years yoga has seeped itself more into other aspects of my life. It is more about a way of thinking. Last year, I did a 10 day silent Vipassana meditation course. It was hard work – the not talking was easy but the sitting still and meditation for hours on end was difficult. Even though vipassana developed from a Buddhist tradition and yoga has roots in Hinduism, they both arose out of the same spiritual culture and share a common focus: self-transformation through self-observation.
Vipassana has given me the tools to overcome challenges and taught me how to react to difficult situations in a more constructive manner. In my yoga classes, I use the Vipassana philosophy of acceptance, non-attachment and equanimity, as it lends itself well to the ever-changing emotional and physical aspects of being pregnant.
What is your approach to teaching?
My pregnancy yoga classes are inspired by my vinyasa flow practice, with modified poses to suit pregnancy. My approach is to normalise pregnancy. Before becoming a yoga teacher I often heard that women found the usual pregnancy classes too slow and dull, especially if they had been used to a strong practice before pregnancy. So I make my classes more dynamic. You will encounter some delicious stretches, but you will also work on your strength physically and mentally in preparation for birth and motherhood. However, I give plenty of options so that if you want to take it easier you can do so. I remind you to listen to your ever-changing bodies – what felt good last week may not feel good today and that is okay. Observing and accepting how your body feels at present is important during pregnancy.
What advice would you give to people who are considering taking up yoga?
Give it a go! Yoga is for everyone, every gender and age group. In relation to pregnancy yoga, it is a great way to stay mobile throughout your pregnancy, release any tension and teaches you coping methods for labour. Many students come up to me at the end of the class to ask me questions about their pregnancy as they know my background as a midwife, and I’m very happy to help where I can.
Do you have a favourite yoga quote?
This is actually a Vipassana quote but it can also be a yoga quote:“The bird of wisdom needs two wings to fly. They are awareness and equanimity” – by S.N. Goenka
Is there anything outside your yoga that people should know?
Outside yoga I’m an independent midwife providing private midwifery care. I support women throughout their pregnancy and transition into motherhood. My clients come to me because they want to be seen by the same midwife throughout their pregnancy and build a trusting relationship with me – studies have proved that this continuity gives the best outcomes and it gives the client peace of mind.
I also write a pregnancy newsletter for my students and my regular readers will write to me when they have given birth and send me photos of their babies. They tell me how much the yoga techniques I taught them have helped them with their labour and birth. To hear their positive birth stories and know that I have made a positive difference in a small way is truly heart-warming!