Thursday, April 1, 2010

Grace, healing and prenatal yoga

No, I'm not pregnant. I thought it best to get that out of the way first. For some reason though, there's an assumption that because I teach prenatal yoga I must, therefore, be pregnant. The question isn't always asked directly. Usually the person I'm speaking with gets a funny look on their face and does a quick scan of my stomach to see if there's a baby-bump. Trust me there's not. All those plank-poses have kept my tummy in top shape. Anyway, having taught prenatal yoga off and on for 5 years, it would be an awfully long time for me to be pregnant.

Being pregnant isn't necessary to teaching prenatal yoga. Neither is having had children. It's knowledge and expertise that count, not a personal experience. There are plenty of male ob-gyns and obviously they haven't given birth.

But being a woman the question of how many kids I have invariably is asked at the beginning of each new prenatal session. Since I technically don't have any, the next question is of course, "When?"

The answer to this question is much more complicated which is what I usually say and leave it at that. Notice that I said "technically" none. This is where it gets complicated.

Four years ago I had a series of miscarriages. It about did me in. Some women can suffer loss after loss and keep going. I couldn't. Rather than face more potential losses with no explicable reason except a diagnosis of "bad luck," I decided that I'd rather not have children. It was an agonizing decision but it was the only one I felt truly peaceful about.

I don't usually tell my prenatal classes about this fact since they've all heard enough horror stories from other people and don't need to hear mine. My job is to make them feel relaxed about their pregnancies not anxious. Besides I don't want them to feel sorry for me or have my sorrow detract from their joy.

Yet those who know my history wonder how it is I can still teach a yoga class for pregnant women? Some might find it masochistic or just plain weird. The reality is I find it healing. It forces me to face my fears and grief rather than run from them which will only prolong them.

As friend after friend has entered the journey of parenthood, having been around so many pregnant women, I've been able to face all those baby showers with a brave face. Likewise, many of those same friends have taken the class from me which allowed me to be a part of their pregnancies in ways I might not have otherwise been.

Still, the biggest help I've had has been the grace that I've received from the same God I once blamed for taking away my chance to be a mother. I can only say that this grace is miraculous because I don't know where else it could have come from. Despite my anger, sorrow and self-pity, it appeared unbidden. Now, I can honestly say that my prenatal class is one of my favorite classes to teach.

There but for the grace of God go I.

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