Yoga has been my daily go-to practice for over three years now and it's been a kind of meditation on the mat, nourishing me on an everyday basis. I wrote this little 'essay' about what yoga means to me while studying for my Yoga Teacher's Certification, and recently dusted it out from a dormant folder to share it with all of you.
My son was born 3.5 years ago, and the birth and what happened right after, turned my bones into mush. Well, not really. But I did feel like my bones creaked, and I had aches and pains that I had never suffered from before. Suddenly, in those two weeks after my son’s birth (the post-birth period that’s considered so sacred and crucial in a new mother’s journey), my body seemed to go from being strong and balanced to achy and weak. I now understand the reasoning behind the ancient philosophy which recommends that mothers use this post-partum time to rest and rejuvenate.
So, in spite of exercising all through my pregnancy and eating nourishing foods, the post-birth trauma left me with a physical form that felt it belonged to someone so much older. My moods went out of whack - a combination of post-birth hormones and lack of sleep. And I piled on the weight quickly because I used to be perpetually ravenous after feeding an equally ravenous baby round the clock.
I got back to going for long walks and doing a bit of post-partum yoga. But as the months rolled on, I wondered if I’d ever get back even half the stamina and strength that I had before my son was born. I understood that body shapes change and that the birth of a child changes you in more ways than one. But I also wasn’t ready to accept this much-chubbier version of myself and didn’t quite know how embrace the person I had become.
That’s when I turned to yoga. I searched for yoga classes in our area and found none. I bought yoga videos but craved for more new routines. I saw online classes, but couldn’t understand the safe foundations for the poses. I was desperate to work with a yoga teacher, but when I couldn’t fine one where we live, I decided to become one. I worked from ground up.
So, I applied to the Aura Wellness Center of Yoga, a school of yoga that certifies prospective yoga teachers, both onsite and online. I studied with them for a year, sneaking in my classes and assignments during my son’s naptimes. I’d try to get up early in the morning, rolling my mat out for a quick practice. But the kangaroo kid that my son is, he’d soon wake up, scuttling down from the bed and rolling onto the mat for his own version of “Ogga”.
He’d often be napping on my belly, while I flipped through the course books and when awake, he’d be peering curiously at the yoga poses on the pages, commenting, “Aunty - Ogga?” (i.e. “is this aunty doing yoga?”).
I finally got down to doing my assignments for the course, when my son joined playschool. And it was in January 2016 that I wrapped up the course with a prayer on my lips and sent them to my guru at Aura Wellness.
As I look back at the year and what yoga has taught me, this is what I have to say:
Trust the process and take life one step at a time. (Easier said than done, right? I wrestle with this one every day)
When I enrolled at the yoga school, I was fired up to learn but hesitant about how I’d learn so many different poses. I was focused on getting the shapes right and was hard on myself when I couldn’t. That’s when my teacher told me to do the best I could and trust in the journey. To “take one step at a time without worrying about the outcome”. It worked like magic. I relaxed and learnt so much more, and understood that when this mantra is applied to life, it helps letting go of stress and enjoy this journey called life.
Be gentle on your body.
Like most women, I used to be hard on my body. And I was especially hard on myself during the first year after my son’s birth. I fretted over the extra pounds; I worried if I’d ever lose the weight. But through yoga, one pose at a time, I learnt to nourish myself with exercise that felt good. I learnt to create a daily practice with this gentle exercise and began to trust the wisdom of our bodies. Over this past year, I’ve lost the weight that wasn’t required anymore. I’ve got back a fair measure of my pre-baby strength and lost a lot of those aches and pains. I still wear a larger dress size than what I wore four years ago, but I don’t worry about it anymore. I’ve learnt to embrace the changes, to be gentle on myself, to treat my body with care.
Stay in the now.
When I started studying for my yoga teacher certification, I fretted incessantly about how I’d plow through the colossal amount of coursework. I would also worry incessantly about learning so many different postures and getting each one right. But just rolling my mat out every day and grabbing whatever time I could to practice a few poses daily, helped iron out those worry lines in my head. Just doing what I could when I could, unraveled those knots in my mind. It was a slow and gradual process, but a few months into my yoga studies, I noticed that I didn’t have as much difficulty in being in the now. That I was able to embrace the now, with its challenges and limitations and dreams, from a place of ease.
What has your yoga practice taught you?
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