When I found out I was pregnant last October, there was never a doubt in my mind that I would continue to practice. Using the pregnancy modifications, it was fascinating to see what my body was capable of as my belly grew. What a challenging time to practice as your body goes through the biggest change you can experience as a woman. I acknowledged things as they were from class to class and connected with my body in a way I had never experienced before. Though I thought practicing through pregnancy was tough, little did I know that my work had only just begun after giving birth.
patience and persistence
When I got the go ahead to practice, I eagerly found myself in a warm class. I knew I had my work cut out for me, but I had no idea I’d be back to square one, that this sweet little baby would revert years of work that I had put into my practice. Yoga has taught me on and off the mat to not go into anything with expectations or preconceived notions. The only thing I could ask of myself as I started over was to be patient. Sixty minutes whizzed by and before I knew it the posture was over just when I had started to get my bearings. I quickly found that the ninety minute hot class was what I needed to make progress. The second chance in a hot class is where I can take my time getting into a posture and focus on being mindful of the movements.
Just as you would care for a child, you must learn to nurture yourself in the same gentle and kind way. Each class is another opportunity to try again and to dive deeper into your routine. Just as the belly gets bigger during pregnancy, you start to see growth week to week in your practice. Heck… after almost a year, I finally was able grab my heels in camel pose the other day in class!
practice what you preach
As an instructor, we often talk about how important it is to surrender to your practice and to leave all expectations of yourself at the door. For the average person, this is extremely challenging. I often observe students compromising form over depth just because they want to be able to do something. As the person guiding the class, I often come back to this notion and try to remind others when I see the ego surface and try to get in the way of the true work that needs to be done. The more you come to class, the more you are able to work on being aware of what your body is telling you in that moment.
Hatha yoga is so much more than the physical feats a person aims to achieve. When I’m in class, I often have to quiet the voice in my head that wants to start making comparisons to my pre-baby practice. There is no more baby bump in the way, so why can’t I do what I used to be able to do? In the present moment it can be frustrating as it takes time to work through a physical shift. There are some days where the only thing I work on in a pose is getting my balance and I’m okay with that. Once you let go of what you want to accomplish within a posture and acknowledge the reality of your present state of being, you will start to make huge strides in your practice. Get out of your own way and notice how everything else falls into place.
enjoy the ride
Whether you’re just establishing a practice or you’re dealing with a major injury or physical change, it is important to get in the studio as much as you can. With anything that requires practice, the more you do it, the better you get. Being consistent and having determination are crucial no matter where you are on your yoga journey. Even through the ups and downs, a slow and steady practice will make you a much stronger practioner. Being present and attentive as you work on the details of the postures make all the difference in the world. It’s easy to push yourself to master the physical aspect of these asanas, but it takes a certain sense of mindfulness to find stillness while marrying together your mind, body, and breath. As you learn to slow down and take the scenic route on your yoga path, it will take you a little longer but the journey is well worth the ride.