11/09/2011 09:26 EST | Updated 01/09/2012 05:12 EST

Yoga Mama


When I found out we were expecting our first baby, I was excited yet calm. I had heard all the stories about morning sickness and other such discomforts, but I felt confident that my pregnancy would be different. I was convinced that I would be one of the happily glowing mommies-to-be with the adorable belly bumps and the slightly flushed cheeks, grinning with excitement and anticipation.

And then the nausea hit.

And it hit hard, and not only in the morning, but also in the afternoon, evening and most intensely at night. And on top of the nausea came the exhaustion so severe that I needed to nap after simple activities such as making breakfast and answering emails, with the naps knocking me out for hours at a time!

My mostly vegan diet suddenly repulsed me. An avid juicer, I was unable to stomach my green goddess creations, barely able to look a carrot in the eye. In fact, food in general turned my stomach and I spent the next couple of weeks nibbling on bread and crackers sipping on water as if I had been struck with the flu.

Except it wasn't the flu; I was pregnant and I had no idea what I was in for!

Largely due to my over-consumption of starches, I was starting to feel puffy and bloated. Partly due to my overwhelming lack of energy and mostly due to fear and misinformation, I stopped teaching my yoga classes. I was miserable and stayed miserable for the next week or so. My doctor told me told me to enjoy every moment of my pregnancy and I wondered silently how I was supposed to enjoy the lingering nausea and epic exhaustion.

But self-indulgent misery can only be tolerated for so long and I woke up one morning determined to return to my former energetic and happy self, determined to enjoy every moment of my pregnancy!

The first thing I did was to begin teaching my classes again and keep up with my own yoga practice. After about a week of teaching and practising, I noticed a huge difference. I felt fit, I felt strong, and I felt happy.

The physical activity helped increase my appetite and I started eating a little more, enjoying soups and pastas with warm, tasty sauces. As I reminded my students to stay hydrated, I also reminded myself; I refilled my water bottle throughout the day. Slowly, I was nurturing myself back to health and I realized that at the same time, and most importantly, I was nurturing my baby.

I was already taking a good prenatal vitamin, but I began to really understand that over the next several months I was directly responsible for the health and development of my baby. I embraced the challenge and began thinking of ways to eat around the nausea.

My doctor told me not to worry about my sudden aversion to all things veggie; he told me instead to focus on fruits that I could enjoy. Letting go of the stress of trying to consume the perfect pregnancy diet allowed me to relax. I went to the grocery store and perused the produce isles in search of something that wouldn't turn my stomach. Strawberries and bananas seemed to do the trick, although I would come to realize that my tastes and food preferences would change almost weekly!

I began eating, teaching and practicing yoga with increased awareness. On the mat, I gave myself permission to move slowly if I needed to, to take breaks if and when I felt like it.

Being around my students and the amazing healing power of yoga inspired me to move to the next step; I signed up to become a certified prenatal yoga instructor. Little did I know I was about to change the course of my pregnancy for the better!