Spotlight Series-September Edition
Our September Spotlight features Lily Dwyer Begg, owner of Lily Dwyer Begg Yoga.
1. How did you get started with your business/career?
Like most yoga practitioners, I was drawn to this practice to ease pain and suffering. Ultimately, I believe that students are drawn to this practice because of its potency to help us befriend, move through, or when possible, ease pain and suffering in all its forms. After an adolescence spent in a back brace due to severe scoliosis, I sought yoga practice to relieve the physical pain of my aching back. Living with a chronic background noise of structural discomfort has led me all my life to stay moving, flexible, and continually on the hunt for mind-body approaches to maximize physical spaciousness, grounding, and ease so that I can thrive in this body. I committed to the yoga practice as a central component of my life once I realized firsthand how dramatically it not only decreased my pain but attuned me to the center of my body as a physical power source, a meditative abode, and the central barometer of honoring my truest life. It is a joy to now share these techniques with others to help ease pain and open to the fullness of life.
I have trained since early childhood in ballet and modern dance and worked throughout my twenties as a professional modern dancer in San Francisco and Berlin, Germany. A lifelong mover, after healing from two knee surgeries, I knew the time had come to transition out of my career in dance and focus on the regenerative benefits of yoga to heal and repair rather than slowly deteriorate my body if I wanted to continue to be an athletic mover in my body through old age. Though I no longer dance on stage, I will always have a Dancer’s discipline and sensibility that is felt in my classes.
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood awakened me. I got to know the strength of my own resolve and my heart opened unstoppably, perpetually, and exponentially. Childbirth offered a sense of Oneness and connection beyond my personal fears, needs, and limits. I felt connected at once to my own deepest innermost strength and resolve and fully surrendered to a flow of life moving through me that I had no ability to control - only to trust, love, align with, and release myself into. To this day, birth and motherhood imprint into everything I know and share about our capacity as humans, in body and heart. This has led me to teach prenatal yoga but beyond the confines of that niche it also offers an affirming philosophy that ripples into all my teachings, the capacity I see in all beings, and a pedagogical approach of both loyally nurturing and fiercely pushing students to their edge of growth.
I have practiced for over two decades and taught yoga full time since 2006. I have taught in yoga studios internationally, worked with an NBA basketball team, an NCAA diving team, professional dance companies, and therapeutically with private clients across the globe.
2. What are you specialties?
I specialize in prenatal, postnatal, and Vinyasa yoga.
3. What are you passionate about when it comes to working with your clients?
I teach an active style of prenatal yoga because I believe that empowered birth and motherhood require great strength and stamina in body, mind, and heart! Pregnant people are not injured or sick, they are training and conditioning for a major life event. My classes focus on physical stability, emotional integration, fostering community among students, easing common pregnancy discomforts, and holding space for you to open to more of your experience.
Pregnant people innately understand in body, mind, and heart the concept of Oneness that the ancient yogis spoke of. Practicing prenatal yoga is a sacred opportunity for you and your baby to connect with one another through movement, meditation, and chanting (baby loves your singing voice!) to deepen your partnership and loving bond as parent and child and to start modeling to your family from the beginning the importance of health, self care, and self respect.
My goals as a prenatal yoga teacher are threefold:
to help you feel as strong, integrated, comfortable, and capable as you can in your shifting and changing body each day during pregnancy
to support your nervous system and protect your grounding so that you are capable of meeting your child’s birthing day with calm, deep trust in your experience, and a feeling of empowerment - no matter what kind of a birth you envision.
to practice prenatal yoga wisely thinking forward to best support the most efficient recovery postpartum.
If prenatal yoga is a practice of opening and creating space in the mind/body, then postnatal yoga is a practice of knitting together and nourishing the mother. In terms of Ayurveda, India's sister science to yoga, when we are pregnant we are in a Kapha (earth/water element) state - voluptuous, warm, and watery. After we deliver, however, we are in a Vata (air/space element) state - suddenly there is the empty space of the womb and the flesh of the belly where once we housed our baby, and in some cases anxiety or postpartum depression can surface in the mind. We are often so busy with the new responsibilities of motherhood that we forget to take care of ourselves. However, the postpartum period is an important time to care for ourselves as women. According to Ayurveda, the way that we care for our bodies after giving birth determines our future health in older age. So crash dieting or self neglect are very unwise options for women. Postnatal yoga offers a chance for a mother to focus on herself, reconnect to the spark of her spirit, and heal generational wounds by modeling self care and good health as a priority for her family.
I always say that for my athletic students especially, who are so used to the endorphin high of high impact exercise or an advanced yoga practice postpartum exercise is a classic case of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race! If you can press pause and step away from crunches, sit ups, deep back bends, arm balances, jogging, and high impact exercises that create intra-abdominal pressure, and be patient enough to learn to activate the deep core and heal your center - you will be able to dive back into a lifetime of your usual exercise free of chronic lower back and pelvic pain, urinary incontinence, or sexual dysfunction. This program is a gateway to deep core embodiment and integration that starts with healing but the journey from there is limitless. Even after decades of yoga practice, it was not until I learned to activate these deep core muscles after the birth of my first son that I learned how to support handstand off the wall.
Students can begin the practice at home once they have been cleared for exercise around 6 weeks postpartum with my online Reclaim Your Center program. In 20 minutes a day, this program is a deep dive to re-discover the vitality and strength of activating the core canister (pelvic floor, diaphragm, tranvsverse abdominis, and multifidus), to support knitting the core muscles back together. Students looking to return to a regular practice but not sure what is best for healing their center will be educated in the unique needs of their postpartum bodies and learn what postures to avoid and what to encourage. The Reclaim Your Center program is completed in three weeks and offers the foundation of a stable, integrated center necessary for a lifetime of dynamic movement and exercise possibilities.
4. How does your work provide relief/insight or other benefits to your clientele?
The benefits of Prenatal Yoga are limitless! From reduced aches and pains, to a feeling of community and connection, to the ultimate mind-body preparation for childbirth and motherhood yoga is a gift that keeps on giving, even after you roll up your mat and move on with your day.
5. Anything else you would like to share (programs, classes, special info in times of Covid, etc)
Currently during this pandemic there are several virtual ways that students can connect with me:
I have a Prenatal Practice Group I organized and lead virtual class on Sundays, as well as facilitating a private group for Q + A, and offering one short form on demand class each week. (more info on that at the end of this interview)
I teach 3 Independent Livestreamed Vinyasa Yoga Classes a week. You can find my Zoom schedule on my website www.lilydwyerbeggyoga.com or via Instagram @LilyDwyerBegg
I work with private clients - prenatal, postnatal, vinyasa, inversions, scoliosis. Feel free to reach out firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
I lead the Yoga Alliance Registeredn YogaWorks Baltimore Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training
I lead international yoga retreats. Visit www.lilydwyerbeggyoga.com for more information on upcoming retreats to Mexico, Greece, and Spain. Travel Insurance REQUIRED.
Now more than ever during this global pandemic, pregnant people need to protect their grounding, connect to spirit, cultivate strength and calm in the face of challenge, and feel themselves in community.
I am offering a Virtual Prenatal Practice Group. Contact us for details and registration information.