I learned many lessons throughout my whole pregnancy journey last year, and I’m so glad I had yoga to keep me grounded, strong, flexible and prepared for birth. While I’ll save more discussion about prenatal yoga for later posts, I wanted to share a very valuable lesson I learned yesterday.
The babe is turning 6 months old this week. My class attendance has dropped dramatically since I was given the okay to exercise because I simply can’t get out the door on time when I’m on his schedule. This morning was no different. I was up, dressed, and ready to head to class when he suddenly decided he was hungry NOW. (He’s usually hungry at 3 hour intervals on.the.dot, so I thought the timing worked out so I could feed him when I got home.)
Instead of heading out the door, I made an attempt at a home practice. I cleared enough space in the living room to set up my mat. The kid seemed calm enough to hang out on a towel next to me, and so I began my sun salutations.
Oooof. Trying to touch my toes makes my hamstrings cry.
Chaturanga feels SO HARD to hold even for this one breath.
Ouch. What is that twinge in my lower back when I go into upward dog?
You see, 6 months of lovingly holding my child has left me with some pretty nasty lower back pain and just a stiff body. The vertebrae are getting compressed with my horrible posture. I’ve been contorting my body to whatever gets the kid comfortable and then just staying in whatever position will keep him from waking up when he hasn’t napped all day. Couple that with my now-infrequent asana practice, and I don’t feel all yummy afterward like I used to.
So many times, we hear our teachers tell us to “honor your body” and accept whatever limitations present themselves that day and in that moment. While I desperately wanted to do the full primary series or even just the opening and closing postures to get my yoga in for the week, I knew it’d be stupid to push myself. I can’t have a busted sore body when there’s someone else that depends on me so much.
Instead, I peddled my feet in downward dog to stretch the backs of my legs. I did a gentler upward dog to get the stretch in my upper spine without crunching my lower back. A little baddha konasana always makes me feel better. I got on all fours for cat/cow and then child’s pose. And then I lied down on my back for some happy baby while MY happy baby watched me rock side to side.
In the end, I needed to honor my body. I needed to treat it kindly for all the amazing things it has accomplished in the past 15 months. And as much as I want to be able to just pick up where I left off pre-pregnancy, I need to modify, modify, modify until my body tells me it’s ready for a deeper variation.
This is part of the yoga journey. Scrapping the western world’s demands for immediate results and accepting the state of my practice that day and in that moment. If I keep getting on the mat, I’ll get back to where I was before pregnancy and even deepen my practice. I know this.
Sometimes, it takes a little detour from the day’s plans to remind me that we all have limitations. It doesn’t mean that my practice is forever doomed or that I should get frustrated that I can barely touch my toes without bent knees. It just means that this is what it is for right now, and I’ll keep working at it slowly. I might just surprise myself one day.