Over the last year, being pregnant and having a baby, I have met with many birth professionals. As a new mom, I found myself searching for ways to help soothe the anxiety, the fear,fatigue, and the overwhelming feelings. I also longed for like minded community.
While I was pregnant, I decided to join one of Beth Gibney Boulden’s yoga classes. It was there that I felt I could completely let go and finally have some space to exhale.
There is an energy and warmth in Beth’s class that welcomes you from the moment you walk in. She is calm, confident, strong, and yet so compassionate, wise, gentle, and loving. She delights in our children, feels our pregnant woes, and is present for those struggling in all aspects of having a baby or just being a woman.
Beth holds women’s yoga classes, prenatal, mommy and me, couples yoga, and yoga for fertility. She has an ability to connect us, whether through her Facebook page or during class by fostering talking to one another and meeting others in the community. What I appreciate most about Beth, is that no matter what state I was in upon arriving to class, it was welcome. I believe it’s this energy in her class that has created a following of other yogi moms.
To learn a little bit more about Beth Gibney Boulden, I decided to interview her! I hope you all enjoy. Make sure to check out one of her classes. You can find more information about Beth and her classes here: www.creationyoga.net
-How did you begin working with yoga and trying/pregnant/new moms?
I arrived at Full Circle Family Care in 2008 looking for my own health care. I had been teaching yoga but we had just moved to the area and I didn’t have a job yet. Our owner, Lisa Gussack, heard I taught yoga and instantly said, “Oh! Can you teach Prenatal Yoga?” I heard my mouth say “Sure…” while my mind silently shouted, “Are you KIDDING?!” And then another part of my mind chimed in with reason, “you don’t have a job, and if it doesn’t go well you can stop.” I completed training in Fertility Yoga and Prenatal Yoga, and was completely shocked that women liked what I had to offer! I never expected to start my own business in Women’s Yoga and Yoga for Birth, but I’ve been grateful every day since I walked into Full Circle!
-How does your background or philosophy influence your teaching?
Kripalu Yoga nursed me back to health when I was very sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, candidiasis and hormone imbalance. There was a time when I would painfully crawl out of bed and flop onto my mat, knowing that if I could just press the play button my video yoga teacher would give me the strength to get through the day. Yoga still supports me through the chronic pain of endometriosis, sciatic nerve and pelvic floor dysfunction, and the general challenges of life. My personal practice is a blend of breath work, asana, prayer, gratitude, and using mantra to quiet my mind. I’ve used yoga to heal since 1996, and that’s what comes through in my teaching.
And like every yoga teacher I’m influenced by my education and life experience. I earned my degrees in psychology and counseling, and worked in college student affairs for 12 years. I worked in leadership development for 8 of those years at a women’s college and loved empowering women to reach their goals. Yoga clients benefit from my counseling teaching experience. I’m still helping women reach their goals and find their inner strength…but now I get to wear comfy clothes and don’t have to attend college concerts and weekend events!
–How do you feel your yoga class helps women struggling with trying to get pregnant?
My Fertility Yoga class offers women physical, mental and emotional benefits during their journey to conception. We start the class with introductions and I ask what they come in search of. They share their feelings as well as ask for what they need – which often allows a release of tears or prompts the group to offer empathy and support. We breathe, stretch and move in ways that increase circulation to reproductive organs and reduces tension on all levels. I offer a lot of guided relaxation – so they can listen to my voice instead of the voice in their own head. We stay connected during the week with a private Yahoo group so they can reach out for support day or night. I also offer special workshops to connect current fertility yogis with alumnae and those events are absolutely magical! Fertility alumnae offer so much strength and hope that the yogis talk about them for months afterwards.
-How does yoga helps pregnant and new moms?
Our bodies need movement and balance for good health, and pregnancy typically requires exercise to build strength and release tension. Prenatal Yoga is designed to meet the changing needs of pregnant bodies and help women accept the shifts in body, mind and heart. Children come into the world to teach us, and that education begins right away! Pregnancy always teaches us something, often brings up intense fears, and ultimately prepares us for the enormous challenge of motherhood. Yoga is an ideal practice for accepting our new, fertile, beautiful body and claiming the power that flows through every pregnant woman.
New moms need to connect back to this same flow of strength and release the tensions and worries that come with their new role. Moms get to rebuild their physical strength in class while spending precious time bonding with their baby. Babies love to see other babies in class, which makes all of us smile too! Plus baby laughter is contagious! I’m sure that our classes help alleviate post-partum depression and loneliness that new moms commonly feel – community heals us.
-What do you enjoy most about teaching to women?
I love how easily women connect with each other! If I create a safe and accepting environment, women relax and engage with each other in very supportive ways. I get to witness kindness every day! I also get to laugh and cry with women as they journey through difficulties and blessings. I’m honored to be in your lives.
-Any advice for a pregnant/new mom or woman struggling with infertility that want to start a yoga practice but hasn’t ever tried it?
Yoga aids almost everything, as long as we don’t irritate injuries or move in ways that are inappropriate for us. First, know your body and find a teacher that understands your needs. Speak to your yoga teacher before class begins about your needs – we want to know! During the fertility journey we need to save energy for conception, so avoid hot, strenuous yoga. Instead choose yoga that increases circulation, reduces stress and encourages deep relaxation. Fertility Yoga is ideal for this time, and is slower and safer for women using artificial reproductive technologies. Fertility Yoga instructors have more education about fertility treatments and their effects on a woman’s body.
During the first trimester of pregnancy we don’t take on anything new – growing a baby is new enough! Experienced yogis can continue to practice during their first trimester since they know yoga and their body, but generally we don’t start new yoga until the second trimester. In the 2nd and 3rd trimester Prenatal Yoga focuses on making space for mom and baby, calms the mental and emotional waves, and builds strength for birth and motherhood. IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO START PRENATAL YOGA!
It’s incredibly helpful for women to be with women they can relate to during conception and pregnancy. We can talk all we want about every detail of this intense time period and be with women who listen and support us!
-What are your biggest struggles you see for new mom’s and pregnant women in your yoga class?
ANXIETY! And a little bit of self-judgment too. Our silly minds won’t be quiet unless we take control and train them to calm down and see the positive potential ahead of us. Yoga trains us to use our breath and movement to come back to the present moment. Staying present reduces suffering – we stop imagining what’s ahead and regretting what has already passed. If a life challenges comes up and you can’t keep your mind quiet, then you need more helpful interventions to come back to the present moment.
-If we can do a few stretches a day, what ones MUST we do?
Anyone who has been to my classes will be saying this line in their head right now, “If you do one movement for yourself every day, make it cat and dog curls!” I’m a big believer in getting down into table pose to step out of your busy mind and climb back into your body. Cat and dog curls stretch the spine, wake up the abdominal muscles, and help us to inhale what we need and let go of what no longer serves us. Once you’re down there, you’ll follow your instincts into familiar and intuitive movements. Pregnant women and new moms also need to open up space for breath and relax those tight shoulders! Grab a yoga strap or old necktie, hold with a grip wider than your shoulders and lift the taught strap up and possibly drop it back behind you. Inhale to life the strap, exhale to let it go. You’ll stand taller, breathe easier and possibly even smile!