How I met Yoga...


At the age of 25 I turned to yoga because I heard yogis did weird breathing stuff. Seriously. I was a smoker who wanted to become a mother and I wanted desperately to quit before trying to become pregnant.  I bought a yoga video on VHS at Whole Foods and committed to doing this tape every day after work for at least a month. It was a slow vinyasa flow that ended with a ten minute savasana. Within the first week I noticed that despite my muscles being sore in places I had never known existed, something in me was changing. My usual anxious, caffeine-addled mind was calmer. My reaction to events at my stressful job were becoming less reactionary and more thoughtful. I slept better and breathed better. By the end of the  month, I had weaned myself considerably from cigarettes. I finally decided to quit cold turkey, and added running to my yoga. The benefits kept coming. I continued to feel better than I had ever known and began to experiment with other parts of my diet and lifestyle. I cut out all caffeine, and later stopped eating meat and processed foods. Within 4 months I was pregnant with our first daughter. I continued doing yoga throughout my pregnancy and after. At the time, there wasn't a plethora of yoga studios to choose from as there are now. The classes that I attended at studios were not very enjoyable for me. I found the instructors to be over-serious and not very encouraging. I had questions but my teachers discouraged talking in class and they seemed annoyed by people who waited for them after class.  I retreated back to my living room to do yoga and to read and re-read the sutras, the Bhagavad Gita and all things yoga on my own.


Fast forward...


Since that first year of yoga I went on to become a doula, and then later a Certified Professional Midwife, providing prenatal and postpartum care and attending out-of-hospital births in southeastern Michigan. Our family grew with the addition of two more children. Despite having a busy midwifery practice and being on-call most days of the year, I continued to practice yoga at home. My yoga practice would ebb and flow with the demands of life and the changes of my body.


After over a decade in birth work, I started to feel very burned-out from the stress of my career and changes in my family that demanded more of me at home. I began to look seriously at yoga teacher training, as yoga has always been the one modality of self-care that I came back to again and again to find my footing when things became too intense in life. If you know nothing of midwifery, let me explain the essence of being a midwife:  One must undoubtedly know how to recognize normal from abnormal, healthy from unhealthy, safe from unsafe. One of the biggest roles a midwife plays is to be a person who is completely and utterly present.  To be a witness to another woman's journey to motherhood, or sometimes, sadly, to loss. Just the same, a midwife is present to encourage, to cheer on, to wipe the brow, to laugh or cry, to remind one that their body and mind will see them through the process. If I were going to leave midwifery, I wanted to brings these skills with me to the mat to share with others.


A Yoga Teacher...


In the Spring of 2012 I took a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training at Yoga 4 Peace, a non-profit, sliding-scale yoga studio in the Detroit area. I slowly ended my midwifery practice, catching my last baby in December 2013. I have steadily built my role as a yoga instructor, and currently teach between 12-18 classes a week. I thoroughly love what I do and I feel like the Midwife on the Mat. My students and I smile, we laugh, we cry, we get silly, we achieve new things, and we accept the days where we just need to stay in child's pose. There is a saying, "There's a midwife for every woman," meaning, not every midwife and mother are a good match. One must seek a good fit. I believe the same is true with yoga instructors. I've been at this now for nearly 20 years. I believe yoga brings so many benefits, whether you go it alone or in a class setting. I believe YOU are your own best teacher. Listen to your own voice first, and then decide who gets to speak with you. Honor your body and mind. Walk in love. Smile inwardly and honor the process. ~





Amanda Topping Yoga

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