In this interview, get to know our pre- and post-natal yoga instructor Jai Fuller. Jai teaches Prenatal Yoga Sundays 10-11:30am, and Parent & Baby Yoga on Tuesdays, 10:45am-12:00pm. (Be sure to double-check the schedule for holiday cancellations!)
Yoga Center Amherst: Who are you?
Jai Fuller: I’m a Sikh, and I was born and raised in an Ashram lifestyle. So I’ve had an existence that isn’t what most Americans go through – the communal living experience, which really influenced my childhood. It really does take a village; that’s not just a funny saying for raising kids! It’s so nice for parents, as well as the kids, to just be able to walk to another part of the home and have other adults to interface with. I’m also a mother of two, and we are still living in a community setting, which is awesome for me. I encourage my prenatal yoga students to plan ahead, and call on their friends and family to create a solid network of support they can count on after the baby is born, because we really need this as new mothers, and most of us do not live in close community in this culture.
YCA: What style of pre- and post-natal yoga do you teach?
JF: I did the Khalsa Way prenatal training, which is the Kundalini-style prenatal training, founded by Gurmukh. And I assisted Corinne in the first year of her Birthing Mama Prenatal Training, and now I’m assisting her in the second year. I love being around trainings, they bring me so much inspiration and juice for the work.
YCA: What makes Khalsa Way unique?
JF: The main things that come to mind are, we use a lot of mantra, Kundalini pranayam techniques, and meditation – I weave music and mantra into all my classes, and we often finish class with meditation. The Khalsa Way style also has some set sequences I love, that I incorporate into every class. We do these beautiful squat salutations for strengthening, toning and opening through the pelvic floor and hips. I also include something we call Keep-Up Exercises, which help moms prepare for dealing with the mental aspects of birthing and contractions. These exercises help to strengthen the mind’s ability to allow the strong sensation and even move into it, rather than trying to move away in fear. By practicing these weekly, expecting mothers become empowered and feel prepared, in a way, for the strong sensations of birthing. We also have a sharing circle at the beginning of class, where moms can talk – and not just be heard, but other moms can chime in. So it’s definitely a community-building time.
YCA: What makes you passionate about teaching pre- and post-natal yoga?
JF: My passion about this work is really strong, and I think it’s because I’ve worked with children literally my whole life. Coming to prenatal yoga, for me, was this completion in getting to start at the very beginning. In my lineage, we really believe that, as parents, we have the most influence on our children when they’re in the womb, as well as those first days, months, years of their life. They’re like sponges, right? And so when they’re inside of you, that’s when you can really influence your child. So this, for me, is such powerful work in the world – helping bring kids in with even a little bit more consciousness, a little more connection to ourselves and this process of growing babies and birthing. Just a little can make such a big difference for our children at this critical and formative time in their development. It’s magical. Doing this work brings me back into that aspect of life, the magical miracle of it all. I feel it’s a total blessing to be around pregnant women, and the new life of a baby and new mothers. So that’s where my passion comes in. For me, it’s an opportunity to have a profound effect on our next generation, by working with pregnant mothers and postnatal parents and their babies. You know, we just had three moms emerge with their babies – these tiny little three-week-old babies! And it’s like a reunion, a welcoming to the other side, where we get to meet the babies and connect about the whole journey. It’s such a transformation to go through, birthing a baby, and to walk women through and support them, and then be there on the other side, is really special.