Nine months ago I had my first baby at 38--you know, advanced maternal age. I had done yoga for years leading up to my pregnancy and was able to (mostly) enjoy the practice throughout my nine months. And I didn't just do yoga. I rounded out my fitness routine with strength building knowing that it would benefit my body before and after baby, but also, contribute to the health of my baby as he grew inside me. I felt proud and went on to deliver a healthy (and big!) baby.
Fast forward to postpartum. Fast forward through sleep deprivation, hating breastfeeding, and a body that didn't feel mine. Fast forward to SI (sacroiliac joint) dysfunction the the ripple effect it sent through my body. Fast forward past 9 months of deep core work/repair, pelvic floor therapy, physical therapy, and pain from almost every yoga practice. It hurt when I sat on the floor, any forward fold, and any one-sided movement (warriors, 3-legged dog, easy twist, etc--basically most of yoga). I would show up to teach class, demo only a handful of postures, and then suffer for it for the next three days enduring painful walking and difficulty sleeping.
Yet everyone saw the woman showing up to work, looking me up and down, saying, "Wow! It doesn't even look like you had a baby!" The value being placed on my pre-baby appearance. Each time I heard it, that hurt too--it made me feel like I didn't look like a mother, an identity and role I very much put my blood, sweat, and tears into and earned through the years I waited, the months of being pregnant, and the 45 hours of labor. I felt invalidated. I looked okay on the outside, but didn't have the energetic capacity to share otherwise. In most cases, I said thank you and moved the conversation along.
AND I was mad at yoga. Oh was I mad...and honestly still am a little bit. How could something I love, something we're told is healthy, become something that continues to hurt so much?
But this is where I realized the real practice is. The physical aspects of yoga (asana/postures) are only a piece of the larger picture of a yoga practice. All of the guiding principles (yamas/niyamas), breathwork (pranayama), and meditation techniques have served me well and help me through my physical struggles postpartum. I have to remind myself daily--yes, even as a yoga teacher--to be kind to myself, compassionate, and be honest about what my body needs. Yoga has helped me honor my truth, even if I'm sometimes mad at that truth.
After 9 months of being a mother, I understand the world in a new and wiser way, and I know it's just the beginning. I look at women and parents with new eyes and a new heart. I'm both softer and stronger than I ever deemed possible. I'm protective of my energy. The hurt is still there, but I'm learning to listen.
Are you a new mom wanting to hit the reset button? Join me for Nourishing New Mamas, an online, flexible retreat to feed your body, mind, and soul. Click below for details or visit the Events page.