I took my first yoga class, at a rec centre in the fall of 2001. Needless to say my practice has ebbed and flowed considerably since then. At times I went daily to rigorous, hot classes, others I barely moved into poses at all. Over the years it has expanded from an asana only form of exercise, to a more nuanced but broadly defined experience of yoga. And it changed forever last year when I became pregnant.
I was fortunate to continue an active asana practice throughout my pregnancy, even completing my yoga teacher training during the time. Only in the last trimester did I slow down and focus more on restorative classes. In fact I credit my relaxed, healthy experience to regularly attending a variety of hatha and vinyasa classes, prenatal classes, and practicing at home.
Since giving birth to the light of my life Everly Pearl in January I have continued my asana practice. Obviously it has changed greatly; I don’t think I have even attempted many arm balances and I have to be careful in deep hip-openers because I can still feel the extra flexibility in my hips from all the relaxin and other hormones. But the constriction of my asana practice has lead to an expansion of the other eight limbs of yoga.
Never have I felt more present in my body. It started during my pregnancy when everyday I could feel changes occurring. And now when I am with my baby, I feel a deep connection to the present moment. There is really is only the here and now. It doesn’t matter if she slept last week or how many diapers she used yesterday. Every moment with her is different. She is growing and changing and developing so quickly, I have learned that I cannot look to what happened last night to determine what she would do today. And perhaps more importantly I have stopped worrying about what could happen.
After we brought her home from the hospital, Dennis went out to get groceries and I was truly alone with her for the first time. Every few minutes I would check to see if she was breathing. I remember thinking to myself “What if she stops breathing? What if something happens? What if… What if…” And then I made a decision that I would not parent out of fear. I will not dwell in the past or be anxious of the future. I will enjoy every moment with her. And sometimes that means just breathing.
Unlike many women in the world, I am fortunate enough to be on a paid maternity leave that affords me the luxury of living in the moment. At first I was worried I would be bored. After years of working hard what would I do all day? Turns out plenty. She sleeps, eats and plays. I sleep, feed her, and play with her. But there is very little structure to our days. And this has taught me to let go and live in the here and now.
I am lucky that Everly sleeps well and that has allowed for me to still do some of the things I love. I have maintained my sadhana. And I am able to sit and meditate on my own. But I have also been surprised by the meditative time she and I share. When I nurse her I can’t multi-task. I sit, hold her and breathe. I feel united with all mothers before me and to those that will come. I feel connected to her and to myself.
And it is the most yogic act of all.