Yoga teaching & motherhood: how does it work?

Yoga teaching & motherhood: how does it work?

We asked Nadine Watton, one of our Senior Teachers, to tell us how she manages being a yoga teacher, a yoga teacher trainer and a mum.

Nadine is part of our 200hr Teacher Training Team in 2018 alongside Ame Wren and Karen Kirkness.  You can find out more about all of our training programmes, including the 200hr, by clicking here or contacting

by Nadine Watton

I feel truly blessed to have teaching yoga as a job.

What could be better: I get to share something that I wholeheartedly love with a group of people who are there, ready and willing to learn and to enjoy the same thing I do. What’s more is I get to wear clothes that basically resemble pyjamas!

Life before motherhood

I did my training many years ago before I had my kids – there were Mums on my course though (hats off to them doing all that work with a busy family life and jobs too, but it is possible!) and we also had a couple of course babies.

Before I got pregnant with Noah (who is now six years old) I had about 20 classes per week where we lived in London. I slowly cut that down as my pregnancy progressed and passed on a lot of my work just keeping a small selection of classes to return to.

Motherhood & teaching yoga

It was really important for my husband Nick and I to not put our children into any form of daycare until they were at least three years old. It was just a personal choice for us and my job gave us the scope to do that.

We managed to get through financially on Nick’s wage and I returned to a couple of evening classes and a Sunday morning class. This felt enough for the start – I picked up these classes when Noah was just six months old, giving him a huge feed just before dashing out the door.

I felt happy with this as I felt as though I was keeping up my teaching practice and keeping a small glimmer of my “old life”. As happy as you are to be a mother it is always nice to keep a little bit your old life alive, just for your own sanity and wellbeing.

We moved to Edinburgh for two reasons:

1. to be closer to my Dad who is living with cancer and,

2. to build a better life for our kids.

I was expecting our daughter, Hunter, by now and this is when I saw the beauty of the mobility of yoga in action.

I was very nervous leaving my yoga community in London and was pretty scared about not finding any or enough work. Fortunately, through an introduction with the lovely Susan Reynolds I started teaching at the Bristo Yoga School (old skool Meadowlark). From there things have grown and evolved!

Managing my teaching schedule

As Noah and Hunter have gotten older I have managed to get into a rhythm that works for us a family. Now, Noah does full days at school and Hunter is just four years old, so she does mornings at her pre-school.

Having the mornings free means I have now managed to add on morning classes 3 days per week.

Of course, evening work is very abundant and things have gotten quite intense: there was a while last year I was out every evening Monday to Friday and then Saturday mornings with sometimes workshops on Saturday afternoons.

This was too much.

I have had to reduce my evenings to just three per week and I still have pretty full Saturdays and that’s cool – the kids have a Daddy-day and we keep our Sundays as very sacred family time.

This year I have been running the Yin and Restorative Teacher Trainings which gave me very full weekends – it was completely awesome but I had to be sure to “make up” the family time with taking time off elsewhere in my schedule.

One of my aims is to reduce my evening work to just two evenings a week so I can be at home a bit more for bedtimes and to have more quality time with Nick (I must remember that I am a partner and wife too!).

I guess one of the things I love about this job is its flexibility. Another thing I love is the fact that teaching a class can be just like a practice in itself. Sometimes I can be driving to the studio in the evenings and thinking “wow – I’m so tired after running around with the kids all day… how am I going to do this?!” But as soon as I walk into the Shala I feel energised seeing and feeling the buzz of the place and then I can settle into teaching a class. I feel energised afterwards too.

Managing parenthood

As a lot of you know, raising children can have it’s very challenging moments!

The good times are just awesomely mind blowing but the tricky days can leave you feeling…well, wrung out and fragmented, possibly ready for a glass of wine. Sometimes I get to a class, I just need to sit in the car and centre myself so I don’t take any of the spiky or upset energy in with me.

I took a parenting course last year that has really helped me soften the energy – I try to embrace Judith Lassater’s quote: “rest in every moment“.

As a parent you need to keep your cup full so you can give out to these little people in your life. The same goes with teaching – you can’t give your best to your students if you are stressed and harassed. Nourish yourself, even with very simple things – five minutes having a cup of tea whilst watching the birds or a cheeky little Savasana for 10 minutes.

One thing I never thought about was kids illnesses.

It is good to have a network of emergency cover in case you need to cover classes at the last minute. I have found myself calling in cover at four hours notice as I’ve watched my hands break out in spots and realising that I’ve caught my kids highly contagious hand, foot and mouth disease!

What I tend to do now is, if my kids are vomiting or have something that tends to be contagious is just get cover, even if I’m not sick myself, just to cover myself and lower the risk of taking nasty germs into the studio. Also, when your babes are really ill, they just want their Mum – and I want to be at home cuddling them.

Managing my yoga practice

Practice on the other hand is quite a different thing. I tend to be so selfish over my practice and can’t bring myself to the Earth Motherly status of just doing my practice as my kids potter around. It’s fine when they are not crawling/walking/talking etc… They just lie there looking cute though may need a quick feed or nappy change break.

I’ve had everything from having Lego balanced on my toes in headstand, being leapt on in child’s pose by two small people, to being shoved over out of headstand “because it’s funny” to having my kids go “wowwwwwwww” whilst I’ve tackled handstands (cool mum alert) and to “Mummy why are you just sitting there holding your nose” whilst practicing Nadi Shodhana.

I have resorted to Cbeebies, DVDs, iPads with headphones JUST so I can get some practice done with a hefty helping of guilt thrown in.

Only now, after six years have I returned to the Mysore room, for a couple of days a week – this requires a 4.30am wake up, into the Shala, home for 8am for school run.

If I’m teaching in the evening or up in the night with sick/awake kids then the early doors session is off the menu. If I’m not in the Mysore room, then the alarm is set for. 5.30am with a little 30 -60 minute practice of my choice.

My incentive? I am a much nicer parent/person if I practice.

I feel so blessed doing this job and I feel so blessed being a parent. Some of the key things to teaching Yoga and to being a parent are patience, acceptance, mental and emotional flexibility, thinking on your feet (or you could just call that making everything up as you go along) and being grounded. That way you can really give the best of yourself.

And don’t forget to give yourself the best too…. Avoid running on empty, fill your cup and nourish yourself.

by Nadine Watton

Meadowlark Yoga

Visit our studio on the edge of the Meadows, open 7 days a week offering Ashtanga Vinyasa and other styles of 43 Argyle Place, Edinburgh, EH9 1JT 0131 2287581