New Mom & Peloton Yoga Instructor Chelsea Jackson Roberts Talks Self-Care & Self Discovery

ParentingPublished Jan 5, 2024
By Shayne Rodriguez Thompson
chelsea jackson roberts

In CafeMom's monthly series, Work It, Mama, powerful moms detail how they navigate their professions and home life.

There's a certain aura about Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts that took a hold of me from the first Peloton yoga class I took with her more than a year ago. Her soothing, joyful voice, genuine smile, and message of self-acceptance and self-love, are like a salve to the soul. It might sound a bit cliché to say that about a yoga instructor, but Chelsea is actually different. She makes it clear in every class that yoga is for everybody and uses her classes to celebrate her culture and lived experience through her musical choices, which makes for a unique and quite beautiful experience every time I'm on the mat with her.

Maybe it's because the first of her classes I ever took were filmed during her pregnancy, and more recently her postpartum stage, and of course, as a mom, I can relate. But I think it's more than that.

The former classroom teacher — now in her 40s — became a mom for the first time in fall 2022, when she gave birth to her son Noble. Per her own admission, motherhood has changed her deeply, but her commitment to helping others live intentional, gentle, centered lives through yoga, was already burning bright, which led her to Peloton in 2019, when she initially went through the casting process, eventually becoming an instructor for the popular platform in 2020.

As a new mom, Chelsea has had to revisit nearly everything she's learned through yoga, and even recently, used her own experiences to help her launch Peloton's first-ever yoga series, The Chelsea Set, a sequence of 30-minute classes intended to help yogis of all levels build strength and practice mindfulness, with a goal of self-discovery and growing confidence.

CafeMom had the opportunity to chat with Chelsea about yoga, her career journey, and new motherhood, and we were so inspired, not just to kick butt as working moms, but also to prioritize our own well-being as caregivers.

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When you found out you were pregnant, what was your initial reaction to the idea of being a working mom?

"I was excited because I knew that … Shane and I … we both knew that we wanted to set the foundation for exactly where I am today," Chelsea explains.

"Shane and I have been colleagues as well as husband and wife. We did workshops together as certified yoga teachers before I came to Peloton, and we knew that we wanted to do that work first before starting or continuing our family. So when we found out that we were pregnant, it was the best news in the world because we had waited so long for it to happen."

So, you're son is a year old now. Almost mobile! How has that been as a working mom?

"It's exciting. I'm actually enjoying every stage. Like, I often say that this is what yoga was all for, for this moment, so that I could experience the joy even during the challenging moment, you know?" Chelsea tells us.

Do you feel like you were prepared at that moment in time?

"I mean, I don't know if I could ever — if we — can ever be prepared because it's such an unknown experience depending upon the parents, the child, the experience, the condition, what's going on in the world," Chelsea says.

"Noble was born in 2022, and so going into knowing that I was pregnant, we were experiencing a whole global pandemic. So it really started to shift and I had to think about, how do I show up as a parent? And so I just remember being really excited because we were so intentional about everything. We had the time to go inward. We had the time to really say, is this what we want for our family?" she explains.

"Like, no … I will never be prepared. I think it's all a moment-by-moment thing, but [establishing her career first] supported me to be with the resources that I need to meet each challenge as it comes."

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Chelsea Jackson Roberts

What about the aspect of being a public figure while you're pregnant and entering into the life stage of parenthood? How has that been for you?

"The way that I show up — specifically on social media — is I know that I have a choice each and every time," Chelsea says. "I never want to feel like it's something that I have to do, you know? It's definitely a way to make my presence be known in the world of Peloton and even outside of that, but because I always move with knowing that I have this choice in how and how much I share with the world about my journey as a mother, that's always important to me," she continues, explaining that her yoga practice is actually a reminder that we always have a choice, and noting that she tries to teach that in her classes.

In light of that she says, "I feel … actually OK. I felt really okay moving through it. Being in fitness and being on a live platform daily, it was certainly a vulnerable space to be in because I'm teaching yoga and people are seeing my body change as I'm experiencing my body change. And so while that could be overwhelming, again … I come back to my practice of patience and kindness to myself. And so, yeah, it was certainly a journey. I enjoyed it though. I actually enjoyed it. Even the hard part."

That touches on you creating boundaries as a woman and as a parent. How do you approach setting boundaries for yourself professionally and personally?

"Again, my yoga practice has certainly been a support. And I say a lot of times in class, you may feel like yoga is a waste of time because it moves so slowly, or you may not feel like it's the workout that you needed to get the sweat, but what it does teach us when we're on the mat, how to be focused and anchored and to make decisions in the heat of the moment. How to practice patience and kindness, and also how to create boundaries for our own safety and in order for us to thrive," Chelsea explains.

"And so for me, parenthood was the ultimate definition of having those healthy boundaries. And so, I practiced it. I practiced it with how I dealt with postpartum, and how I introduced the world to my beloved little baby boy, Noble. So I used it as a way to continue that practice of yoga, and that includes healthy boundaries."

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Chelsea Jackson Roberts

How was your transition back to work after your maternity leave?

"It's funny because in yoga, if you go to a yoga retreat — and typically a yoga retreat is either on the weekend hours or even sometimes for a whole week — and we have this thing where we have to focus on the reentry into the world, because our nervous systems have been so supported by this cocoon of yoga, and everybody is there for that sake of oneness and being aware. But then you go back into the world, and you're like, not everybody experienced what I just experienced at this yoga retreat," Chelsea explains.

"And I feel like my postpartum journey has been that as well. It's this negotiation of who I was before, who I am now, and who I will be as I moved through motherhood. And so reentry has been a process. Like I said, postpartum wasn't easy for me," she continues, explaining that she believes she even dealt with some postpartum mental health issues.

"I was in therapy before the baby, during, and after. And that's important. I think it's important for us to have spaces and resources for us to explain and to unpack what it is that this miraculous body just experienced," she says. "And even though Shane, my husband, was there every step of the way, I can't even articulate it to him … who I was, who I've become," she continues.

"And so coming back to a space like Peloton that is just already exciting and a really collaborative place — and I say collaborative because the members really make us who we are, how we show up — and so just getting back into my body and wanting to be there and show up for the members, it was beautiful because I was able to be honest with what yoga is for me."

What did that mean to you?

"Everything that I had taught before becoming a mom, I was showing folks in real time," Chelsea explains. "My body was not able to do the same postures that it did before I left for maternity leave, and so I talked through that in my classes," she continues.

"And the moms who wrote back, even folks who are not parents, they expressed that they appreciated my approach to yoga because it let them know that they were welcome exactly how their bodies were showing up, too," she says. "So I actually enjoyed the challenges that came in that postpartum journey because it made me dig deeper into yoga."

Would you say that you experienced postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression? Or was it just the physical aspect that was challenging?

"It was everything. Anything you can think of. You name it, I was going through it," Chelsea shares. "Yeah, so I would say all of the above."

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What are some of the challenges that you've had in finding balance since becoming a mom?

"I think the balance of who I was before Noble, who I was as I experienced the process of pregnancy, and now who I am after, that's the biggest thing," Chelsea shares, explaining that she always thought she'd be the kind of mother who everything that she would do would be for her child.

"That's very true," she says. "But also, pouring into myself is for my child. And so I think that that is the part of me that has been stretched the most … has been challenged the most. Maintaining who I was before. Being OK that I'm different now, and evolving into someone who is both this mother, but also this individual who is also Chelsea in this world alone."

Is there one thing that you hope to achieve as a working mom specifically? Whether that has to do with your family or your career.

"I just want to achieve freedom. I often talk about freedom in my classes, and someone asked what brings me joy — we just had a yoga and body appreciation panel here at Peloton with my colleagues, Christine [D'Ercole] and Ash [Pryor] — and the moderator asked, 'What brings me joy?' And I said, 'Seeing Noble be free … seeing my child be free,'" Chelsea recalls.

"And so, all roles, everything that I've ever done has been in recognition that freedom is not always easy. Then I think about the world and how my hope is for every living being to be happy, healthy, and free — that is a sacred mantra in yoga, and that's my hope. That is what all of this is for," she says.

"I hope that when you come to my class, I can support you in tapping into a piece of freedom for yourself."

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CM WorkitMama Dec23 2 2Body

As something of a mindfulness expert, what would be your top tips for new moms trying to prioritize self-care and mental health?

"Everybody's journey's is going to be different because everybody's level of support is going to be different," Chelsea says. "We need support a lot of times in order to have the time and space to cultivate these moments of saying, 'I have a balanced life.' So I always like to start with acknowledging that that is a luxury [time for self-care]."

"And if you have that support, to lean into it, to lean into it in a way that you don't feel guilty that you're asking for support. Because if those people are offering support, then hopefully you know that it's coming from a place of non-attachment and that they are going to offer what they can to you. So take that," she continues.

"I'm saying to be practical, to be honest with yourself, and ask for that support in order to free up the space for you to pour back into yourself."

Moving forward, what is your long-term goal for your career as of right now?

"To continue to share yoga in a way that lets people know that they are welcome here. To let people know that yoga is for all bodies. To let people know what yoga can be and that it can meet you exactly where you are. So in any degree, that is my mission and intention," Chelsea tells us.

"You know, even when I was a school teacher, when I was going through a PhD program, like all roads always end up here," she says. "Anything that I do beyond this point … listen, my grandmother is almost a hundred years old. Shane's grandmother is 102. And if I live to see those days, I would like to say that I'm still gonna be dedicated to sharing this practice of yoga and how it's here for all of us to share."

What do you think it is specifically, that makes you so passionate about the benefits of yoga?

"It's the place where I feel free, because this world doesn't have a lot of space for that in different settings," Chelsea tells us. "I'm very honest. You know, yoga to me is not all about vibes, positive mindset," she says.

"I know that's shocking sometimes for people to hear, but I'm all about the fullness of this human experience. And so for me, it is both the joy and the suffering. It is the both the ease and the effort. It's the ease, it's the hardship, it's the bliss and the happiness," she continues.

"So for me to have a practice that allows me to explore, understand, and really face all of the parts of me … that's why I keep coming back to the mat," she shares, noting that she hopes she can help yoga be that place for others as well.

"This is a time that I'm actually getting a lot of support and elevation from Peloton, and I want people to feel invited to come and practice with me. You don't have to have the equipment to be able to connect with the yoga platform," Chelsea shares. "All you need is the app."

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