Finding Time for My Yoga Practice

babylungeHello fall, a season I hate because it means I have to pack away my sundresses and flip-flops, but also reluctantly enjoy because it means I can go longer without shaving my legs. Guess we’re in it for the long haul now.

Wardrobe changes aside, the start of fall also brings with it a new yoga challenge. With every solstice, I join a group of yogis online and try to do 21 days of asana (the physical poses typically associated with yoga), at least once every day. I was especially excited for this latest challenge. With a newborn around, I feel as if I need it more than ever.

But since we started up the other week, I think I’ve actually been doing less yoga.

Pre-pregnancy, I was able to get to the yoga studio four to six times a week. Throughout my pregnancy, I kept up this pace until I hit my third trimester, at which point I was only able to take one prenatal class a week (while still teaching my regular classes three times a week). Now that Emily’s here, I try to get to Mommy + Me Yoga once a week, I try to take regular classes once or twice a week, and I teach twice a week. As for my home practice, it’s abysmal.

And by “abysmal,” I mean “nonexistent.”

This shift has been hard for me. With this lower class frequency, my body always feels as if it’s starting over again. I take one class and, within an hour, I already feel sore.

But more than that, my mind… my moods… my emotions are also out of shape.

For years, I took several medications for chronic depression and anxiety. Once my husband and I decided we wanted to start a family, however, I stopped my medications cold turkey. Unfortunately, this process took longer than expected. In the end, it took three and a half years for Emily to wink herself into existence inside of me. I was off my meds that entire time.

I credit yoga with keeping me sane. Though I took my first class with the aim of someday looking good in skinny jeans, I kept going back because of how relaxed yoga made me feel. Suddenly, I was able to respond to all of the ups and downs of life in a much healthier way.

In an attempt to hold onto that, I kept up a busy yoga schedule. I went on a yoga retreat, and then went through a yoga teacher training (which did make me look quite good in skinny jeans once all was said and done). I taught three to six classes a week, on top of the four to six classes I took. My yoga practice became almost like an addiction.

It was a good addiction, though. Almost a necessity. The thing is, I never wanted to need medication again.

But things slowed down once I entered my third trimester. And then I wasn’t allowed to practice for six weeks after giving birth to Emily. It was so hard. I was breastfeeding all the time. Emily was cluster feeding. I couldn’t leave the house. I couldn’t get stuff done. I felt trapped, and I felt I had no way of managing my moods, which were now bouncing all over the damn place.

Once maternity leave ended, I felt overwhelmed in an entirely different way. Starting to feel the stress of juggling work and motherhood, I found myself sobbing just about every other day.

But as overwhelmed as I felt, I was also overwhelmed with love. And I felt as if I couldn’t let Emily see what I was feeling. I remember standing in the full-length mirror with Emily one day, because she loved to look at our reflections. She thought it was downright hilarious to see me in the mirror, and I thought it was downright hilarious to see her face light up as she caught my eye. I was crying this one time as we stood in the full-length mirror. But still, I bounced her around and egged her on in a perky tone of voice and hugged her tight tight tight. I didn’t want her to know how sad I was. I didn’t want her to think it was her fault.

Getting back into my yoga practice has been good for me. And I go to a postpartum depression support group once a week, which I love and actually look forward to. But I still miss what my practice was. What it used to be. Which is why I felt I so needed this 21-day challenge.

It shouldn’t be so hard to fit yoga into my day. At the very least, I should be able to stretch for five minutes, or do a series of sun breaths, or even just breathe.

Just sitting with my breath would make me feel better.

But as always, doing something for myself always falls to the bottom of the to-do list.

It’s funny, because I teach a workshop called 1.5 Hours to Inner Peace, designed to teach students breathing exercises and meditation techniques and restorative poses that can easily be squeezed into the cracks of a day.

I tell my students that they only need a few minutes.

I tell them that they can do many of these exercises anywhere.

And it’s true. They can.

So if you’re interested in doing what I say (vs. what I actually do), you should check out my next workshop. In the meantime, I’m going to try not to beat myself up over what I’m not accomplishing. I’m going to try to be at peace with the fact that I’m still figuring this out. And maybe, after I hit publish on this post, I’ll even take a few sun breaths.

Namaste y’all.

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