Welcome to Chime's YogaView series! Each month, I interview yoga teachers and practitioners to learn how their yoga practice is an empowering force in their lives. This month, Lisa Young talks about her prenatal yoga business and how she finds balance in the labor of love of motherhood.
1. Tell us about your business. What inspired you to focus on prenatal and postnatal yoga?
I am the founder and owner of Austin Prenatal Yoga, which I started 5 years ago. I specialize in teaching prenatal and postnatal public and private classes. I also give a monthly couples yoga workshop for childbirth that I designed. I was inspired to go down this path after my first pregnancy and childbirth, both of which were smooth and easy. I believe that a regular yoga practice helped to keep my body comfortable, strong, and stable, and my mind open, confident, and relaxed for childbirth. Also, I wanted to offer a prenatal yoga class that was challenging for practitioners.
I like sharing the gifts of yoga with moms-to-be and to help them be at ease with the beauty of their changing bodies. For many women, prenatal yoga is their first encounter with yoga. I have found that, because so many women hold special memories from their prenatal yoga classes, they want to continue to practice after the baby is born. That is very exciting to me, because I feel I've done my job if I turn women onto yoga. My ultimate goal is to plant the seed for moms-to-be to think about their self-care, honor their limitations, and slow down a bit. Learning this before childbirth can only help moms adjust to their new life with a baby.
2. What are the goals and format of the couples’ yoga class for childbirth that you designed?
This is my favorite and most rewarding class to teach. The main goal is to assuage the tremendous fear around childbirth by being positive and realistic about the intensity of birth. We tend to think that the pain of labor is bad and that women are powerless to do anything about it. However, the pain of labor is purposeful and helps guide the laboring woman's movements, which in turn aids in making good progress. Also, there are many natural coping measures women can do to help themselves in labor andfeel in control.
I teach both parents birthing positions on and off the birth ball and simple massage and breathing techniques. At the end of the class, we do a birth rehearsal visualization where the women imagine their ideal birth in their mind and feel it in their bodies. I love getting the partners involved, too, because they often feel helpless. My goal is to have the partners feel a little more informed, useful, and at ease. We also do partner yoga and a connecting-with-baby meditation. Each couple goes home with many valuable handouts about birth.
3. What are the biggest challenges and rewards of owning a business?
I started my business shortly after I moved to Austin. The biggest challenge was going from teaching a room full of students in a yoga studio that does the marketing, to having to attract students in a whole new state and city saturated with yoga teachers (a blow to my ego). Also, going out on my own with no studio to fall back on was scary but also liberating. The biggest reward is that I get to do the meaningful work I love, be my own boss (no rules, no politics), and have a very flexible schedule that allows me to be at home a lot with my children. Also, knowing that I built something from scratch that is now thriving is very satisfying and fills me with gratitude.
4. What advice do you have for individuals in the early stages of starting a business?
Ignore the inner voice that says, “You're crazy.” Trust the inner voice that tells you to “keep going.” Be patient, have faith, and be consistent. Show up week after week, month after month, year after to year to teach your classes. This communicates to students that you are always there, reliable, and steady, which creates trust.
5. You have shared with me that, in your experience, motherhood is a “marathon and spiritual journey.” Please share what this means to you.
Mothering takes tremendous stamina, endurance, and patience, just like running a marathon. But, it also requires surrender and softening, because my children’s needs are always changing. Parenting is a spiritual journey because there are many rich opportunities for self-awareness, reflection, and discipline. My children show me my full humanness (the good, the bad, and the ugly). In embracing my humanity, first with love and awareness, I can lead a spiritual life as a mom, working to be more sane, balanced, present, relaxed, and content. My inner journey and healing not only affects me, but also my children’s lives and futures. It starts with “MA,” the universal sound for mother. If you chant MA, you will feel the vibration in your heart chakra. Prenatal yoga and all yoga help us to increase our awareness, which is a beautiful gift we give children and ourselves.
6. How do you create space for self-care?
Instead of trying to carve out big chunks of time for myself, I sprinkle small doses of self-care rituals throughout my day. When I am doing these small acts, I acknowledge that they are nourishment for my well being and I am worthy of care. Some of my favorite self-care rituals are using essential oils, taking herbs, using the neti pot, lighting candles, saying affirmations to myself, keeping the house quiet, eating clean, and drink tons of water—all with intention and attention, making the ordinary into the extraordinary. I practice yoga at home when my son is napping or no one is home. I've learned to adapt to “getting my yoga in” when I can. It is important for me to stay connected to my yoga life and teaching. I also created a shrine and carved out a small place in my home to meditate and do breath work daily.
7. What is your favorite yoga pose or sequence of poses to do when you want to feel grounded?
Downward facing dog is a grounding, comforting, and neutralizing asana. My favorite arm balance is eka pada galavasana (flying pigeon), because it's scary to fly, yet I feel so strong, light, and free when I am in this pose! Plus, I get a killer outer hip stretch.