When I first met Kelly and heard her story and inspiration behind Devi Ma I was so intrigued. Devi Ma Yoga is so much more than yoga classes and Kelly brings so much experience and wisdom to each of the classes she teaches. I love the approach and flexibility that expecting and new parents can find at Devi Ma Yoga. Read on to hear more about Kelly’s story and what you will find at Devi Ma.
How long ago did you start Devi Ma Yoga and what inspired you?
Devi Ma Yoga opened in November 2018. It was another step on an amazing journey that began back in 2005 when I first started teaching prenatal yoga and Yoga for Labor and Delivery workshops.
However, I was originally inspired toward this work in the 1990s, as a result of my own experiences during pregnancy while living on the reservation in South Dakota. It was here that I glimpsed the powerful spirituality and traditions of pregnancy and birth which is deeply revered by First Nations people, yet starkly juxtaposed to the lack of services and modern realities of reservation life.
When I began teaching Yoga for Labor and Delivery, I realized just how important it is for women and their partners to know much more about birth, how the body and mind adjusts, options, questions to ask and what to expect. I also realized that a good number of women were not fully receiving this information and feeling “not heard”, dissatisfied with their birth experience, and generally disempowered by the system. I observed many women seeking a more meaningful, informed and even spiritual experience in welcoming their baby. This is when I made it one of my goals to offer classes that not only addressed the physical aspects of birth, but also the profound emotional, mental and spiritual aspects that are often overlooked. In 2006, I was nudged forward in this work yet again as I supported my sister’s birth and caught my niece upon her entry into the world. Since this time, I have supported over 70 births. Most recently, I supported the birth of my daughter-in-law and son, welcoming a new grandson Earth-side. In all of these births, I am always deeply struck by the awesome, innate power of women.
When considering names for my studio I was searching for something that captured this innate and powerful energy. Devi Ma seemed like the perfect name. It is a Sanskrit term meaning “goddess mother” and it represents the inherent abundance, power and creative force of the feminine… at all stages of life.
What types of classes do you offer?
I offer yoga classes that include prenatal and mom & baby yoga. I also offer Yin Goddess yoga which focuses on the deep transformations of peri-meno, menopause and beyond. In addition, a “regular” yoga class called Hatha Elements is on the schedule. This is a traditional yoga and meditation practice for both women and men of all ages. Fertility yoga classes will be on the schedule soon, but privates are available now.
I provide a comprehensive childbirth education series (3 classes) that guide parents-to-be through the last weeks of pregnancy, the entire birth process, and the realities of the first six weeks with baby. One of the unique aspects of my childbirth education series is that you get to choose when you take the classes, how many classes you take, and the order in which you attend. The website has a full description of the classes and my approach/philosophy on birth at: yogadevi.mom
My studio also offers workshops, guest speakers, doula services and doula training as well as yoga teacher trainings at both the basic and graduate levels. The yoga trainings I offer are: 200 hour Basic Yoga Teacher Training, Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training, Yin Yoga Teacher Training, and continuing education workshops for yoga teachers, including a course I developed in 2009 called Adapting Asana for Prenatal Yoga Students.
How are your classes unique to the classes at my local hospital or gym yoga classes? Where do your classes take place?
Classes at Devi Ma encompass a traditional yoga practice that goes beyond just the practice of physical yoga poses. In addition to movement, we practice yogic breath, meditation and relaxation techniques that serve as effective tools for birth and beyond. We sing to babies, work on subtle body alignment (chakras), address pelvic floor integrity, changes in breast tissue, discuss tips and resources, and find time to just chat. Classes are designed to nurture the “whole woman” by addressing the profound physical, emotional, mental and spiritual transformations of pregnancy and motherhood. As a seasoned doula, childbirth educator and prenatal/postnatal yoga teacher, I combine all of my skill bases for a more comprehensive and informative class. Beyond the average yoga class, my goal is to guide women in how to trust their body, release trepidation surrounding birth and breastfeeding, and reconnect with their internal wisdom. In this way they can navigate the rapid shifts of pregnancy and motherhood with greater understanding, ease and calm.
What does your daily schedule look like? How do you divide your time and priorities between your kids, your husband, your home and your business?
Most of my classes are held in the mornings, evenings, or weekends. But, when I am on-call as a doula, I never know when (or how long) I will be at a birth. In this way, my schedule is sometimes a moving target. In between classes, I prepare lesson plans, update and write training curriculums, mentor new doulas and yoga teachers, and run a business.
My children are now grown. But, I am mom to a very gregarious and talkative parrot. As any bird parent will tell you, caring for a parrot is very similar to having a small child in terms of the care, daily routine and attention they require. So this is actually the anchor that keeps me centered in maintaining a routine that also includes time for myself and my husband every week.
Is there one piece of baby gear that you tell a new mom she needs to have for breastfeeding?
The Haakaa breast milk collector is great for catching milk that leaks from the opposite breast as you are nursing baby. My daughter-in-law used one and said it best: “This was a lifesaver the first three months, and I built up a good stash just doing this.”