Claudiaexpat has interviewed Colleen, an amazing lady that teaches pre and postnatal yoga in Singapore.
Tell us a bit about your life – how comes you were born in Zimbabwe, when and why did you move to Singapore, where do you feel “home” is…
I was born in a government hospital in a very small farming town called Rusape, 40 miles east of what is now known as Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. My father was Scottish, my mother was born in Johannesburg, and they had both come to Southern Rhodesia when they were children.
I spent the first eight years of my life on a farm in the area before moving to Harare where I lived, schooled and worked until my husband, a pilot, and I left in 1981 to complete a contract in Brunei with the Brunei Air Wing.
We spent five wonderful carefree years in Brunei before joining Air Mauritius where we spent the next magical 9 years. By this time we had three kids who grew up free and happy in the wonderful healthy lifestyle of Mauritius.
In 1997, my husband accepted a contract with Singapore Airlines and we have been in this great place ever since. We are all very grateful to have been given the opportunity to know so many wonderful people from very diverse cultures.
Tell us about your approach to yoga, and how and when you decided to make it a profession by giving courses of pre and postnatal yoga.
Originally I trained in classic ballet and this created in me a love of the body and its ability to move. It was during our time in Brunei that Jane Fonda’s Workout routine was at its height and I learned the routine and taught it to the Malay Officers Wives and the Expat Wives Club.
I continued to teach aerobics and stretch in Mauritius but it was only when we moved to Singapore and I bought a yoga stretch and relax video tape that I fall in love with the depth and beauty of this amazing discipline.
When I met a group of like minded ladies who asked me to teach them yoga postures, I realised I could actually make this passion a career. I undertook a Teacher’s Training Diploma in Yoga and Health in 2000 and have been teaching yoga all over Singapore ever since. My favourite style of yoga is Hatha Yoga but also enjoy all Vinyasa, Pranayama (breathing) and Meditation.
Tell us about pre and postnatal yoga…
I have always loved moving my body around and teaching others to enjoy their bodies through exercise, so in the beginning, I was a little reluctant to teach pregnant women yoga or exercise, as I felt their movement and ability to perform postures would be so limited.
However, to my surprise, once I started teaching pre and postnatal yoga, I quickly realised that women become a lot stronger and more flexible when they are pregnant, especially if the do some form of exercise on a regular basis. Yoga is perfect for pregnant women with its focus on the pelvic floor to create good posture and strong back muscles.
So I went with the need, agreed to teach prenatal yoga more or less full time and further my knowledge of pregnancy by attending doula and ante-natal courses and extra certificates in Prenatal Yoga.
And what about postnatal yoga?
After more than four years teaching prenatal yoga I have come to realise that although pregnancy is a huge time in any woman’s life, once the birth is over, and lets face it, even the most traumatic births don’t last for very long (!) not only do you now have a very depended little creature to care for but you are deprived of many of the characteristics you had when you decided you could become a parent.
I mean where is your strong reliable character – who is this sobbing emotional disaster? And where is that great, tight body that looked amazing in jeans? And what are these huge, hot tender milk producing orbs that used to look divine in tight little T-shirts? Who prepares you for the feelings of incompetence and the overwhelming need for your mother?
The list can be endless and living far away from the support of family and friends in a foreign land certainly doesn’t help.
As a result, I personally think that postnatal yoga is an essential part of the recovery period. Unfortunately, it is difficult for new moms to get away from the house and times of postnatal yoga classes are often difficult, so I try to talk a little about these problems during the prenatal classes so my ladies can use the pregnancy time to prepare for the post delivery period.
However, I do strongly urge moms to find the time, even if they only attend one or two postnatal classes. It is so good to get out and meet other moms in the same situation! Just focusing on their bodies and doing postures for a hour instead of worrying about the next feed, can be so healing and strengthening. Some ladies manage to bring their maids with their baby to the classes and this is wonderful. If babies sleep, maids can do a few postures too! Great for them, after all, they get stressed too!