Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Renewing the Practice

Since i've been pregnant a lot of my yoga students and friends have asked how it changes my home practice. Pregnancy definitely changes my practice but it's hard to explain. there is the general change that i'm off twisting and i start modifying my poses as i start growing. (no more bow pose already and soon i'll be off cobra and locust too). but there is a far deeper change too.

last summer i went for a 10 day yoga retreat in indonesia. it was amazing and life and practice changing. it was perfect for just before starting to teach because i felt like my practice got very strong and there was a certain attack or fire quality to my practice that i didn't have before. finally i demanded more from myself both in class and at home and i saw big change in my practice as poses began to reveal themselves to me. i felt young, vibrant, fearless, strong....

as soon as i got pregnant in january, that all changed. suddenly i felt very very fragile and somewhat afraid. it is my first pregnancy and suddenly it felt like my body was out of control. i couldn't trust my body, i couldn't push my body. i felt like i was sick all the time but really wasn't. and psychologically i was so afraid i would do something in my practice that would cause me to lose the baby that i backed way off.

all that attack and strength was gone. i was left feeling tired, worn down and pretty scared. the yoga that was my comfort was now sort of a threat. but i knew yoga wasn't going to hurt me, i knew which poses to avoid and all the books said to do yoga. so for the first three months i just pushed through. i never got actual morning sickness, or major mood swings, just the general feeling that things were different. and so i kept on going. more restorative days and much more rest. it was a different sort of practice to rest so much and it was difficult psychologically to deal with the change. what if my old practice never came back? what if this lasts forever????

but luckily the first trimester doesn't last forever. by about month 3 i started feeling better. and now 4 plus months in i'm feeling much more like my old self ... just with a balloon in my stomach to work around. recently i've started to feel more brave again in my practice. and i've started working back to building my strength up. i remember during my teacher training the woman who taught prenatal said something like 'it doesn't do them any good to give pregnant women a break, they need the strength to get through labor and they need to be strong once the baby comes. it's better to let them work and rest, work and rest, just like the rhythm of labor' and that has stuck with me.

yesterday i put the labor principle into action. i worked HARD in my poses, held them longer than normal and concentrated on breath and just gave myself little breaks in between. in the months i took it easier i lost my chaturanga so now i'm working hard to bring that back. and to bring back the arm balances i'd barely grasped. it's time to be serious because taking a break and eating bon bons all pregnancy isn't going to serve me when it's all over. today i'm tired to my bones and muscles from the practice and then teaching all evening, but it feels good. it feels good to have worked it feels good to be hungry from it and it feels good to be as proactive as i can in preparing myself for labor and beyond.

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