Yoga with a baby

Yoga: How to Balance Poses and Motherhood

Some ancient yogic texts refer to the yogi’s ability to levitate and walk through fiery coals, yet these days my “fiery coals” look more like holding plank and balancing in a lunge. At three months postpartum I have learned a lot about my body’s true abilities: creating a mini-me while being a yoga teacher and full-time studio manager for CorePower Yoga and how to deal with the after effects.

When I first attempted a headstand, I was a new yogi and everything the yoga teacher said seemed like a big ask.  “You want me to hold a ‘resting’ posture for 3-5 breaths?”, which felt like a weird plank (Downward Facing Dog), or “you want me to stay calm and breathe on my one leg that’s on fire while my other leg kicks back (Warrior 3)?”; then if I had energy left, “Balance on my head (Headstand)?!” to round out the class. Maybe yogis did have some super power and I wasn’t privy to it yet.

I stayed on my mat and continued to do yoga in every yoga studio in San Diego that had the word “power” and “hot” somewhere in the description.  The teachers’ requests to try new postures started to feel familiar and my physical strength improved to where I balanced on my hands and legs happily.  I completed a teacher training and discovered that I had more going on other than my physical strength; I had a strong mind, a desire to connect and hold eye contact, and a voice worth listening to that I undervalued.

After teacher training, my yoga practice really started to shine not just in postures, but in the entire way I lived.  I was fortunate enough to be able to quit my corporate job and shift to teaching full-time, 12-15 classes a week, while also being a studio assistant. Since quitting my desk job I have taught thousands of hours of teaching, led teacher training, moved to two cities to help open more yoga studios and have met so many incredible people doing something I love. In every new challenge or unfamiliar encounter I recognized the same voice I used to hear when I tried to get into a headstand: “Your stomach rolls and short legs mean this posture isn’t for you. You might as well skip it.” But then a clearer and even louder voice would shout: “Are you kidding?! You’re going to be amazing!”

My husband and I decided to grow our family after 9.5 years of marriage, three dogs and two cats. I got pregnant last summer. I continued to teach and work full time while pregnant and taught my last few classes the week I gave birth. I wanted to show my unborn baby that she, too, could do whatever gave her the most absolute joy. I was a better teacher while pregnant because I was reminded that my yogi “super powers” were temporary and there was beauty in modifying and slowing down.

Now I have a new memory from all of this. I returned to practice in my first C2 at about seven weeks postpartum. Holding plank seemed impossible again. My body was nowhere near being able to stand up for a long time, let alone hold a headstand. But I was smiling. I was happy to see my sweaty, slightly softer version of myself in the mirror and accepted my body would experience postures differently. This time there will be a mini version of me waiting at home after class and I want to show her that her mama has come a long way. She is a mom and a yogi; she is fierce and also a good listener. She is learning to love her new body that was once her baby’s little home and the mind chatter is now a happy little cheerleader in a pink polka-dot dress that is proud of her mama no matter what.

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