When a yogic journey takes you deeper…

I realize it’s been a long while since I’ve updated my site, and it’s not without good reason. In December I went on maternity leave and in March, my husband and I welcomed a beautiful, spirited, blessing of a baby girl! I’ve been enjoying my time with her so much, and really soaking in the pleasures of being a mum.

A little catch up is necessary, I believe, to see where my body, mind, and spirit has been:

 

I had to stop teaching and doing my own asana practice due to some physical issues (which I may go into greater depth about later), and found myself parked on my couch for the a little over 2 months, starting in December.

9 weeks.

That’s a long time to be inside the same four walls, let alone laying on your side with your legs squeezed together, with only yourself and your animals for company for the majority of the hours in a day.

 

It was a great form of meditation, I suppose. A fierce act of letting go, which in my yogic world, is a constant battle of wills between living in the present and not fretting myself over things that have happened in the past, or the possible outcomes for the future. Welcome to my monkey brain.

While gestating safely, I noticed all sorts of little things about this house. The little crack of space between the light casings and the ceiling, which allowed a darkness to contrast the beaming lights (such a wonderful and abundant metaphor), which are surprisingly blinding when laying directly underneath them. The layer of animal fur which embeds itself into the area rugs when the vacuum hasn’t been pulled out in a couple of days. The 4×4 square inch space of white wall paint waiting patiently to be matched to the otherwise pale yellow background. It stares at you from just above the clock ticking the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months away until you can finally get back up on your own two feet…only to find that your muscles have atrophied, you can no longer feel your major muscle groups, and climbing a set of three stairs leaves you breathless.

 

I was fortunate enough to be able to lift myself off the couch with about 5 weeks left of my pregnancy, to slowly try to build up some strength. The first step though, was to reprogram my head. I went from being someone who broke a sweat every day, to realizing that walking around the block was going to be a feat of epic proportions.

Ego, be gone.

Time to start fresh…

It was time to learn how to be a beginner again. I knew the anatomy of what had happened, I knew how my muscles were supposed to feel when activated and engaged. I knew that I couldn’t stretch my now incredibly tight back body without engaging the front body to counter. That knowledge is all well and good, but if you can no longer FEEL the muscles, it’s a moot point.

Once again, ego be GONE.

Humbled and weary, I started my journey of recovery. Every step I took was a reminder of the greater vision. This wasn’t just so that I could one day rock a solid [enter whichever specific pose pleases you, here] with the poise and grace that a yoga teacher *should* have. I had to gather my strength, and bring my body awareness back to be able to honor my upcoming feat of stamina, aptly named LABOR and delivery.

 

I started slowly, which was really my only choice. I took the dog, sans leash for fear that she would lunge at something (she hadn’t been getting nearly enough activity without me to walk her daily) and jolt my unsteady body down onto my bountiful belly, for a walk on the trail behind our house. It goes the length of the block. So we’d do that once, ever so slowly and come back home, me panting, sweaty, and in agony, and her super excited to be walking and confused at why we’re done already, half an hour later. Once a day, I took my pooch down that trail, until I finally built up the strength to actually make the journey around the block. Time was starting to tick-tock loudly in my ear, letting me know that our wee babe would make her appearance soon. I had to get stronger, and quick. I started walking for longer periods of time, exhausting myself for the rest of the day and sometimes creating such a backlash in my body that I was bed bound for the night. I remember when I walked for three blocks the first time, I called my brother and my dad to let them know I had made it – it took me an hour.

 

As time went on, and I started to get a bit more mobile, I realized how blessed I was that I could actually get up and move around for the last bit of my pregnancy. I really enjoyed the attention my massive belly was getting. I had gained a substantial amount of weight from being immobile for so long, and a lot of it was in my front. My short stature amplified the image and people were asking me daily if I was “about to pop”. I walked in nature, filled my lungs with fresh oxygen and counted my blessings as frequently as possible. My husband and I went on a date to a steakhouse, and while it was exhausting, I knew that it was possibly the last time we would go out as a twosome.

 

I’ll spare you the details of my labor and delivery, and I’m not sure if it’s for your benefit or mine. Something about that primal event is so sacred and special, and it seems best to be a private memory between my husband and I, not shared on a public forum. I may change my mind about that in the future, but for now it’s best left as this:

I climbed more stairs that night than I had in the 6 months leading up to it, and I am hugely grateful for the chance to charge up my strength even minutely beforehand. I had the utmost faith that my body knew what to do during that time, and tapped into my inner strength and stamina to birth a nearly 10 pound baby naturally and drug free.

 

My healing  journey has only just begun, and I am reminding myself daily of what I’ve accomplished and been through in the past 8 months to get to this point. I am a woman (WHOA, man) who has done what our bodies were meant to do, with a couple speed bumps along the way to slow me down. It’s going to take time to build myself back up, and take me to where I was before with my physical practice, but the lessons I have learned are priceless.

Truthfully, I am scared to start teaching again. I can’t demonstrate poses like I used to be able to… heck, my knees are near my shoulders when simply sitting with my legs crossed!  But I know that it will come back to me. I am like a kid with skinned knees remounting her bicycle with blind faith that this time, my ride will be more powerful. My path will be clearer.

I will once again blossom like a lotus flower, but I must have patience and be kind to myself.

In the meantime, I’m just going to connect with the beautiful little soul who hasn’t even been around for four months yet but has taught me so much. She’s worth every single tick-tock of that clock that I heard during the countdown to her entrance into this world.

One look into her eyes and I know my truth.

 

Om shanti.

With love,

Jes

 

 

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8 thoughts on “When a yogic journey takes you deeper…

  1. Thanks for sharing, Jes. The image of you climbing all those stairs invokes the metaphor of conquering a mountain. I like the ways you link mind & body, such as finding inner strength and translating it to physical strength. I also like the themes of time, patience, mindfulness, and being in the present throughout the text.

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  2. Hi Jes, I was searching for something else , and then I saw your face. Glad to hear all is well, beautiful set of themes you’ve listed. I might “borrow” some of them for class. Teaching is like falling off a bike, – you never forget how! All your experience and training leads you to sit and teach.
    Give that beautiful baby a kiss for me, hope to see you soon

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  3. Jes,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. My second son is 6 months, and though childbirth is as natural and womanly as you can get, it sure ain’t easy:) Having a baby certainly changes your idea of what a yoga teacher/practitioner should look like. Or what they should be able to perform.
    Ego, be gone! Well said!
    Congratulations to you, your family, and fresh-pressed little one:)

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    1. Thank you so much, Elan! Congratulations on your little one as well!!
      Pregnancy and childbirth isn’t for the faint of heart or spirit. It’s amazing how it can expand your idea of strength, courage and determination tenfold.

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