I recently sat down with Kelsey Oviedo a true wanderluster, ocean lover, and adventure seeker. We chatted about how she incorporates yoga into her daily life and how her practice has evolved over the course of her pregnancy. She also shared about her and her hubby’s RV-ing adventure/babymoon across New Zealand, and her thoughts on motherhood. Kelsey is currently 34 weeks pregnant with her first child, a baby girl named Kyla.
Grab a cup of tea or coffee, snuggle under your favorite blanket, and read my interview with Kelsey. I know you will absolutely adore her and her radiant spirit.
A: How did you begin practicing yoga?
K: It was quite unexpected actually. I grew up doing swim, water polo, running, track and field, and more active type sports. I thought yoga would be boring actually. I didn’t want to sit and just breathe quietly. But a friend in college had a Groupon deal and she wanted someone to go with her, so I decided to go. I went to a few classes and actually got a really great workout in and left feeling very calm and relaxed. I had never had a workout that was equally physically challenging and mentally relaxing. I got more into yoga after nursing school when I began experiencing lower back pain from moving patients around and standing on my feet all day. I decided to try yoga for a month straight and afterward I noticed my back pain was completely gone. I gained a lot of core strength during that time. For those who are not working out you may be lacking core strength, which yoga really focuses on in conjunction with breathing techniques. After that month I was completely sold. I felt like a nicer person at work because I was able to calm myself better and I had learned to take a step back during stressful situations. That’s when I knew I wanted to become a yoga instructor. In 2013, while my husband was deployed I took the chance. It was a 200 hour, 4 days a week yoga teacher training that I attended over the summer.
A: How does yoga play a part in your daily life?
K: I currently teach at a cross fit gym, so yoga perfectly pairs with the strength based training. With getting stronger your also become more tight. Yoga helps to counteract that. I really like the cross fit workouts so I switch it up by doing 2-3 crossfit workouts a week and yoga 3-4 times a week.
A: What is your favorite part about teaching yoga?
K: For me, my favorite part has been watching yoga students have these lightbulb moments. This usually doesn’t happen during their first class though. Which is fine. I always tell people when they are new to my class that they are so welcome here. Take it one pose at a time and have fun. It’s not about being on the cover of Yoga Journal magazine and being that rockstar. Those people have had years of practice in those poses, which takes a lot of work to get there. And what we don’t see is their daily practice and the work behind it all. I like to encourage students not to compare themselves to others. After weeks of coming to class you will hear students exclaim that they couldn’t touch their toes two months ago, but now they can! You’ll see them have big victories with their body and within their yoga practice.
A: If a woman is looking to begin yoga, where would you tell her to start?
K: The great thing about the internet is that there are some great postures and poses that you can look up. There are also some great YouTube yoga instructors. If you’re at home, busy with children, or don’t have the accessibility to attend a class, one of my favorite YouTube yoga instructors is Yoga with Adriene. She has a few different options, like morning yoga which is just a 5-10 minute class or yoga before bedtime. These are usually easy more gentle poses. If you’re a go-getter and really want to jump in there are options for that too. There’s something for everyone.
Even before you get out of the bed in the morning, just taking a few intentional breaths with big open mouthed exhales to let the stress go from the day or week before can be great. Also try doing a few supine twists in bed and a whole body stretch when you wake up in the morning. Wake up your whole body by wiggling your hands, your wrists, your ankles and get into body awareness. This can start your day off right.
A: How has your practice changed and evolved throughout your pregnancy?
K: Listening to my body has been very important.
So, one thing I’m thankful for is something I witnessed while I was going through yoga teacher training in San Diego. There was a woman in yoga class on her due date. She was doing yoga! I was like, “What is this girl doing? Is this safe? Is she going to go into labor during class?” But she rocked it! She was having fun, glowing, and so happy to be there. And you could tell that she was just strong, healthy, and thriving as a pregnant woman.
Being able to practice throughout this pregnancy has been great. I got approval from my doctor and have had to do some variations as my belly has gotten bigger, which has been interesting. Something I’ve had to work with is being out of my comfort zone– having this little one growing and having my balance thrown off. There are certain poses that aren’t contraindicated with pregnancy but make me feel a bit uncomfortable or doesn’t feel right, so I skip them and find one that is better for me. That’s actually been very empowering as I step into motherhood and has taught me to listen to those instincts I already have.
A: What has been the most fascinating thing in regards to your pregnancy?
K: Wow! I think every day I’m kind of just blown away at the fact that you can grow a little baby human and how it changes so much over time. My husband and I were just looking back at my baby bump photos from two months ago and I look completely different now than I did back then. And feel completely different. I’ve just been trying to soak up every day of this journey and go with the flow.
A: What is your husband feeling about your pregnancy and becoming a father?
K: That’s a good question. Lol! I don’t even know if he knows! I think there have been little moments when things start to settle in a little more. Like the first time that he felt the baby kick, he was like, “This is real”. Around 12 weeks when we got the ultrasound picture and were able to take it home, we were both like, “There’s a real. live. baby coming!” Especially because during the first couple months he couldn’t see the physical changes on my body. I’ve been telling him recently that I wish he could just feel what it’s like to be pregnant for ONE day. He’s quickly says, “No thanks.” lol! He’s slowly but surely grasping it as time goes along though. He went to a daddy boot camp class and someone gave us a book for new dads to read that he found pretty interesting. We’re getting there.
A: Do you have any goals for yourself as a mother?
K: That’s a great question. Initially, going into this pregnancy with all of our family back in California there was a little fear with not having our community here with us. One of my prayers was to find women and moms specifically who inspired me in the way that they cared for their children, motivated them, and disciplined them– which is so very important. And I’ve been lucky enough to find that here. Going along with those goals, it would be to inspire her to know that she can make a difference. I’ve seen that out here on this little island. That one person can impact a community and empower women and families around her. One person can be a game changer. So during my pregnancy I’ve just been saying, “You can do so much little one”. I hope that we can continue to foster that idea; that there’s so much possibility and she can dream, even if they aren’t like mine, but we can empower them and help her chase them.
A: If you could give your little girl one piece of advice what would it be?
K: Chase your dreams. It seems so cliche, but it’s so true. It’s easy to let fear get in the way. I want her to know that she needs to just focus on what is possible and let go of what can hold you back. It’s a daily continual practice to say that you won’t let fear hold you back.
A: If you could describe yourself in three words, what words would you use?
K: Oh man, that’s a tough question! One word a friend called me a few years ago was an Earth Mama. Not because I was pregnant then but because I love nature and enjoy the ocean, that’s my happy place. Being outside in nature is where I feel the most grounded and most thankful. Second would be Optimistic, which some would say to a fault. I believe there’s always a silver lining though, even in difficult situations. There’s always something to be thankful for and something to look forward to. Third, I would say Active. I’ve been active my whole life and I’m thankful for my parents who forced my to do soccer, and softball, and volleyball, and all the things I complained about back then but has set me up for a life where I eat healthier and drink more water and has all accumulated into a thriving and healthy life.
Travel & Trekking
A: So, I saw you posted a few pictures of your trip to New Zealand on Instagram. Please, tell us about your trip. I’m so jealous!
K: We went originally as a fun little getaway. We wanted to take advantage of our life here on Guam and living closer to certain places than we would be in the states. It ended up being a baby moon, which was perfect. We went in December over Christmas and New Years. My husband and I rented a camper van which we slept in most of the nights and it was FREEDOM. We drove all over the north and south part of the island. New Zealand is a beautiful country. I would totally recommend going there. It’s nice because they do speak English. If getting out of your comfort zone and traveling to a country with a foreign language sounds intimidating New Zealand is a great place to start. The people were incredible and friendly. If you like nature the south part of the island is like one large national park. There are glaciers, beaches, giant lakes, and something for everyone.
A: What was the food like?
K: It seemed very American. They had some awesome burgers. They’re big on lamb there. There were sheep everywhere. They have a lot of fresh organic food as well. Everyone has a garden, which was AMAZING. Lots of greens, fruits, vegetarian, and vegan options, with great fresh flavors.
A: What do you love most about traveling?
K: I love meeting new people. My husband is very introverted and I’m very extraverted so he knows that while traveling we must go out into a park or coffee shop. While in New Zealand we went kayaking and hiking and got to meet new people there. So that’s my favorite part. I love meeting people from different cultures and different backgrounds. New Zealand is awesome in that there are so many different people there. We met travelers from China, Australia, and France. There are a plethora of people you will meet that you wouldn’t expect to interact with.
A: Do you envision traveling with your daughter?
K: Oh gosh, that’s a great question. That’s actually something we’ve talked about. My husband and I love traveling. We are new to this parenting thing and as we step into it we’ve heard a lot of parents say, “It’s a good thing you’ve gotten all of your traveling out of the way, because now that you have kids you’re stuck at home”. Lol! In the time that we’ve been traveling here, I’ve taken the opportunity to study families and see how they travel. Some with 3 or 4 kids. I’m just amazed. I know now that we don’t have to be shackled to our house or a routine. That’s been very encouraging. We’ve heard that Japan is very family friendly and so we may take a trip out there with our little one once she’s here.
Preparing for Baby
A: What books are you reading right now?
K: I’m reading a book by Ina May. Her book on childbirth, called Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. It was recommended by a blog I read and a few other mothers. And, oh, man, it’s eye opening! I initially had a lot of excitement about having a baby and then instantly fear about labor. So this book has been such a blessing to read. I usually read a birth story or two each night just to remind myself of all of the positive things related to labor, especially by looking at it from a different perspective like, “Our bodies were made for this and you’re capable and strong”.
I’ve also been recommended the book, Bringing Up Bebe. It’s about how the French raise their kids. One thing I like about parenting is that there are so many differences between cultures. There are a lot of different options out there, so just exposing yourself as a parent to those options, not saying there’s one right way or one wrong way but choosing the way that helps your family to thrive.
I absolutely loved hearing Kelsey share about how she’s navigating her pregnancy as a healthy active mama. Her passion for the outdoors and travel is super inspiring and I hope it will encourage other mothers to take the leap and visit some place they’ve been dreaming about. I hope you enjoyed hearing from Kelsey as well. She’s such a vibrant woman and I’m so excited to see how she navigates motherhood. If you happen to have questions for Kelsey or about this interview be sure to leave a comment below. I always answer. You can find Kelsey on Instagram @hello.kelsey.o. There you’ll find her sharing gorgeous bump and yoga pose photos as well as her adventures on Guam and abroad.