I loved yoga a long time before being a mom. I love yoga as an occupational therapist. But my love for yoga has reached a love-affair level as I’ve traveled on my motherhood journey. I’d love to share a few bits about why I am so passionate about the mind & body benefits of yoga for mothers.
Example 1: “Early prenatal first time mom” Emily
Enter: 16 week newly pregnant Emily, who is at the prime of her fitness life after completing dual- training for a half marathon along with her 200 hr yoga teacher training. I have never felt so positive, content, strong, and at peace with my body! But now it’s all changing rapidly in a way I can’t control- and quite honestly I am pretty scared about. I’m craving an intensive, strong yoga work out, but now I can’t do so many of the harder, more advanced poses due to contraindications in pregnancy. Old body image anxieties from my teenage years began to surface- will I melt into a tub of post-partum butter? Is this time of peace and solitude with my strong body now just a short blip on my life timeline? How am I going to manage work, staying health, and a baby- it seems too hard now?!?
And cue the instructor: “We let go of the things that don’t serve us, and we learn to make space for those that do.”
Ahhhhh. That’s it.
I’m not giving anything up- I’m not going to “lose” these pieces of me that I fought so long and hard for. I am simply, right now, going to make space for this wonderful being coming my way. And I can and I will. So, I happily relax into a pose while my yoga neighbors breathe heavy and fight not to fall in their twisting balance posture. I am making space right now for the growing baby inside, and starting by giving up this pose.
Thank you yoga, you’ve got just what I need.
Example 2: “About to-pop” prenatal Emily
Enter: 35 week pregnant Emily with her second child. At the end of a very hectic, faced-paced and active work day, spent chasing around 3 yos, I am in pain. My hips, my butt, my back scream with the kind of pain that comes and goes and catches you by surprise at times, almost making your body buckle! I want to cry and sleep. I haven’t done yoga in what feels like a loooong time. I enter my “yoga room”/ baby nursery/ family closet/guest room. I don’t really know what I need, but I grab my bolster and lay myself over it, draping my shoulders to the floor and knees to the side.
Sweet relief. I fall asleep & awaken like a new individual—pain free and once again comfortable in my body.
Thank you yoga, again, you’ve got just what I need.
Example 3: “My body feels like a hot mess” postpartum Emily
Enter: 4 months post partum I finally take the leap to go to a whole yoga class, in a yoga studio, a few blocks down the street. My first born has been really sick over his first winter, had difficulty gaining weight, and difficulty feeding. Leaving to go do something “just for me,” still feels awkward and wrong, even though I knows it’s good, and actually very necessary. The whole drive there, set up, and beginning of the yoga class my mind is spinning with calculations of time- length of yoga, time to return, time baby will need to eat again…I go through the yoga motions, not fully present. I’m not even sure of what the yoga teacher is saying, probably something I’ve heard a million times about “take what you need for yourself right now.” But for some reason though, I hear it at that moment, and believe it. It’s like a sudden “AHA” moment. I CAN do my own thing, and my baby, at home, can do HIS OWN thing. And we will both be ok. Or even better, both be better for it. I’ve given myself permission to focus on myself, and can see that my baby and I, while clearly intertwined for eternity, will be ok as separate beings in this world. It’s actually quite an amazing, transformative relief.
Thank you yoga, again, you’ve got just what I need.
Example 4: “Trying to return to normal but feeling like I’m failing” postpartum Emily
Enter: 7 months post partum Emily, I return to “my” yoga studio, where I completed my yoga teacher training, and the home of my pre-baby transition to a stronger, healthier version of myself. Frankly, I am scared. I am 20 lbs heavier than last time I entered this place, there’s now no way I ‘ll be able to keep up. The whole class my mind screams, “Who the ****’s body is this?!?! Not mine!!!” Every pose I do feels 300% different than I’ve ever experienced it. My shoulders are suddenly unable to assume 50% of the positions they used to?? I finish the class, feeling glad I did it, but still feel as though by body needs something more to feel “good,” and “at peace.” My mind races with fears that I will never again be able to return to the yoga I love that has so reliably served my body and mind, and that it might never again provide me with what I need. I chit chat with the instructor, who welcomes me back to my practice, and he congratulates me on baby. I share exactly what is going through my mind. He very simply acknowledges how much the body changes with pregnancy, and then proceeds to offer a hands- on shoulder assist that quite frankly rocked & released my post-partum body in a way that rivals……well you can imagine. I leave that yoga studio once again, feeling refreshed, full, & mentally at peace.
Thank you yoga, again, you got just what I need.