In May, yoga instructor Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts joined a growing club: She became the fifth Peloton instructor to announce her pregnancy this year.
“It was a joke at this point, between me and [pregnant companion] Jess [King],” Roberts told SELF. “She was like, ‘Do you know how many DMs I get from people? They ask me what’s in the Peloton water?'”
Even before Roberts joined Peloton, the ex Elementary teachers have already amassed a loyal following of Yogis who appreciate her approachable, creative and compassionate style on the mat. Now, the hip-hop and gospel fan is using the techniques and strategies she’s taught others over decades to find practical principles to help her navigate this new chapter of her pregnancy.
Yoga philosophy has been a guiding light for Roberts since she first stepped on a yoga mat 20 years ago. The Ohio native initially walked into the studio to feel more connected to her body, but when she lost her best friend to gun violence in 2004, the approach took on a whole new dimension. Meaning: It helped her through her grief.
“Yoga supported me as I faced the huge trauma of losing a friend,” Roberts said. “Yoga teaches the importance of being and embracing the integrity of our human experience, while also practicing patience and kindness towards ourselves. In yogic philosophy, the practice of kindness is called ahimsa or non-violence.”
Over the years, Roberts has continued to use yoga for strength, community, resilience and support as difficult times arise. For example, when she experienced a miscarriage in late 2021 — which she shared publicly when she announced her pregnancy — she started rereading the Yoga Sutras as part of her recovery process. Essentially a guideline, the scriptures outline the eight limbs of yoga practice: yamas [restraints], niyamas [observations], asanas [postures], breath control, sensory withdrawal, concentration, meditation, and ecstasy or enlightenment, as Yoga Magazine described it.
“When I read Buddhist scriptures now, they take on a whole new meaning,” Roberts said. “It’s completely different from when I was in my early 20s.”
The principles of yoga, especially the Buddhist scriptures, have been at the heart of Roberts’ growth and evolution, she says, influencing her psychology in the face of adversity and emotional approach. Experiencing loss and disappointment — and learning to thrive on the other side — gave Roberts a new appreciation for everything from self-compassion and community to boundaries and rest. Here are five guiding principles to help her through this new phase of life.
1. Self-care is non-negotiable.
The principle of non-killing is part of the yamas limbs in the Yoga Sutras and is generally considered to be one of the codes of ethics in yoga. As we mentioned, ahimsa includes non-violence and non-harm, but also concepts such as non-stealing, restraint, and non-greed, according to an article published in the Journal of Religion and Spirituality Social Work. Roberts said she now sees the concept of non-killing in a new light as it relates to maintaining her own well-being.