Personal, Yoga Practice

Labor: Take one breath at a time


I’ve had a lot of time to reflect back on my births while I cuddle with Mr. Bear Shark all day. Maybe it’s nostalgia or part of how I process the experience, but I never want to forget the small details. Those two experiences are some of the very few instances in my life when I can say I’ve been truly and completely present in the moment – no distractions, no wandering thoughts, taking one breath (and contraction) at a time.

Today marks Bear Shark’s one month birthday. I still think very fondly of my natural births. I remember the comments I got while pregnant with my first about how crazy I must’ve been for not even considering an epidural. It was a lot of “just you wait” and “it’ll be the best money you’ve ever spent.” I get why people get epidurals. Labor and delivery are not free of pain. And after having experienced back labor with both my pregnancies, I know all too well about the pains of having a baby. But it was something I wanted to do for me. For the experience of it.

What I’ve also come to realize is how much I relate my yoga practice to birth. It’s not just the breathing and positioning to get through the contractions, but it’s the mental and emotional journey you go through. It’s about being challenged at every breath and finding the strength somewhere in yourself to push through, stay mentally steady and keep calm as you get closer and closer to the end.

I loved reading this from a blog post about natural birth:

Sometimes in life, there is no way out but to pass through. By design, childbirth teaches a woman to reach deep and find reserves she didn’t know existed, take it a breath at a time, and continue on until she can rest.

Six Ways My Natural Births Shaped Me as a Mother

The bliss and peace of savasana – while no where close to the ethereal hormonal rush of holding your fresh new baby – is the yogic equivalent of “rest” when I read that. It comes at the end of all the hard work, when you can revel in the afterglow and savor what you’ve just been through. It doesn’t matter if it’s ashtanga or yin yoga. There’s a journey you take, one breath at a time, and then you get to rest and soak it all in.

I’m 99% sure Bear Shark is my last baby (ya know, unless a million dollars falls in our laps and we were getting younger, not older), so I won’t be going through pregnancy, labor or delivery again in this lifetime. I’m trying to mentally save all of these newborn moments now, and in the future, I’ll think back fondly to the experience of labor every time I hit the mat and rest in savasana.

Happy 1 month birthday, baby!

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