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Through Fear to Joy and Passion, a Birthlight Story

I had thought of doing a prenatal training since teaching my first class as a yoga instructor, which I had a pregnant lady in a crowded classroom whom I did not know what to do with. We had a brief session in our teacher training programme on how to adjust the asanas for pregnancy, but that was not sufficient for a new teacher. I was surfing the internet for prenatal training courses when I came across the Birthlight's website. There were two back to back courses open in Moscow, prenatal followed by aqua yoga. I had tried aqua yoga and I absolutely loved it, and it was the best opportunity for me to fly all the way from Dubai to Moscow to take both courses. So I did and I met Francoise in June 2008, the first time Birthlight offered training in Russia. Her knowledge and passion as a teacher and a human being bonded me to her forever. I was fascinated by the Birthlight’s approach of spreading joy and a loving care to the women who needed that. I got back to Dubai and started teaching both prenatal and aqua yoga (Birthlight was offering aqua yoga courses at the time, with focus on pregnancy, and I always had some pregnant women in the pool). I could connect with the creativity and joyfulness of aqua yoga, so I had more fun teaching it. However, helping women to have a healthier pregnancy and a better birth experience was so rewarding. Teaching prenatal yoga did not come to me as naturally as teaching regular and aqua yoga at first. The pregnant women could have all sorts of pains and discomfort so it was a challenge to take care of all their needs at the same time. Gradually, it became easier and easier as I gained more experience, and with experience comes the confidence.

I moved back home to Iran in 2009, and with this change came new challenges. People did not know much about prenatal and aqua yoga, if any. There were a few yoga studios offering prenatal classes, but only a few pregnant women attended them. The majority of expectant mothers did not know such classes existed.I did not give up and found myself teaching prenatal classes, on land and in the water, in the only hospital specialized in women’s health in the country, Sarem Hospital.

Another challenge of teaching prenatal classes in Iran was the tendency of the medical system and the society towards cesarean birth. Fortunately, the hospital that I work for is an advocate of natural birth and pregnancy classes, being the first facility to offer exercises classes for pregnancy. Years have passed and I witnessed more women, and more doctors, opting for natural birth. Our c-section rate is still very high though, but we are progressing, one birth at a time.

Making good connection with mothers and gaining their trust, I was asked many times to offer postnatal classes as well. I was reluctant at first, and having no babies myself, I thought I could not connect with them. But new mums insisted and came to me with their babies, and the babies knew my voice already and connected with me immediately. And that was it. I flew back to Moscow for baby and toddler yoga courses, and I took well woman course offered by Francoise as I was already there for the postnatal and baby yoga courses. I enjoyed teaching mothers and baby classes ever since, and joy turned to passion.

I had a similar story with integrating well woman elements into my teaching. Being an Iyengar yoga student for more than 12 years, it was not easy to let go of the foundation of my practice. Well, I always thought prenatal yoga was a completely different system and method, though it included elements of different yoga styles, and it seemed you could add on to it any relevant concept from any physical or mental approach to pregnancy. So I was in peace with that. Though I believed in Francoise’s teaching from the very first time I met her, I still needed some time to digest the new information and change my mindset about yoga. Even though I considered myself flexible in my practice and teaching, I needed to find the courage to question everything I knew and become more acceptant of what I was receiving. I started practicing and teaching the method more often, while I tried to learn more about it theoretically and practically. Time has proved me that Francoise’s method is much easier, and way more fun than any other styles I know of. It has been two months short of 10 years that I took my first Birthlight courses, and I am so eager to learn more, and share what I have learned with others. I also like Birthligh’s flexibility of accepting new ideas and new people, and integrating them to their system. The method is alive, grows and adjusts its techniques, supports and welcomes teachers with different backgrounds and skills. I have been teaching a few prenatal and aqua yoga workshops in Iran, and will be teaching my first prenatal yoga workshop with an exercise ball next month In Moscow. I am also filming some prenatal yoga clips for a motherhood related application and website in Persian.  Francoise has always been supportive of me, and I am thankful of her and the entire Birthlight team, especially Anna who organizes Birthlight training courses in Russia.

Birthlight took me from a place of fear, to a feeling of joy, and from joy, to passion. I feel that teaching to the mothers is my calling; I was borne to help women to go through a very stressful period of their lives and turn it to the most joyous experience of their lifetime. It’s just like life itself, we move from fear to joy and passion if we see the light. And Birthlight just did that for me, it showed me my birthlight, the light I was borne with, to illuminate the path for myself, mothers and other women. I am forever grateful to Francoise, Birthlight and its other teachers, to guide me through this amazing journey.

Nima Keshavazi
Birthlight Perinatal Yoga & Aqua Yoga Teacher