I can hear myself telling folks "Breaks are good, even from things we love like yoga. The time away always provides new perspective." I've said this countless times to students who have taken time away from their yoga practice. Many of us feel guilty when we stray from our healthy habits and routines. But the truth is, life happens, and sometimes the breaks are necessary.
For the last week I have humbly stepped back on my yoga mat. Actually, I rolled out my mat at least 3 other times the previous week with the intention of practicing, but ended up holding my newborn as I modified my asana to "mama and baby" yoga, which was really "mama holds baby on the mat yoga." But this week the stars aligned and I was able to indulge in some "me time" in my little studio 5 different times! Woo hoo!
It's been 10 months since my pre-pregnancy yoga practice. And during that time I slowly let go of asanas: inversions, backbends, twists, and forward folds. I shifted out of my rigorous yoga routine to a more gentle, restorative, intuitive practice. And at the end of my pregnancy I actually let go of doing asana all together. With all the limitations and modifications, my asana was no longer enjoyable. So I opted for lots of meditative walking and savasana. My yoga of "listening in" became a practice of not "doing yoga," but rather "living my yoga" and honoring myself in each moment.
Fast forward to 1 month post birth. I'm adjusting to my new body, on and off the mat. Here are 5 things I'm learning and remembering back on my yoga mat.
1. Not being on auto-pilot- Yes, rationally I know that yoga is about tuning in to each moment. But after 20 years of yoga, as much as I thought I was aware of myself in down-dog, there was also a deep sense of familiarity and comfort. After many months away from down dog, I return with a sense of wonder. "Wow! This feels incredibly different!" My tight calves and hamstrings are great teachers these days in how to be present. Actually, it's hard not to pay attention!
2. Non-judgement- Well, my postnatal body feels very different that before, to say the least. Things that used to be easy are now challenging. Places I used to feel open are now tight. These differences are truly opportunities for me to let go of how I think I should be or shouldn't be, and to practice allowing for what is.
3. I am enough- Even if I only practice 30 minutes, 5 minutes, or have just a few moments of mindfulness, I am enough. Whether or not I have to stamina for challenging poses, or realize I need more restorative, I am enough. This is my mantra.
4. Patience- Nothing is permanent. I know this. As I humbly return to my asana practice, I know that each day gets easier, and each day I can do more. I know I can't instantly return to the strength and flexibility I previously knew. But I feel I'm at a new beginning, and with time and patience the beauty of my new practice will continue to unfold.
5. Gratitude- After taking a needed break from my mat, I return with a sense of gratitude. I feel truly thankful to be able to return to a practice that is so healing, so helpful in my life. Some of things I took for granted before (i.e. the luxury of 2 hour yoga sessions and ease within challenging poses) I now have so much appreciation for.
Breaks are good, even breaks from things that are good for us. They give us perspective and also new motivation. Breaks also offer us a chance to fall in love again with the things we took for granted. I'm feeling blessed for the break, and even more grateful for the return.
Speaking of breaks, I'm super excited about retreating this winter for the 3rd Annual Om for the Holidays Retreat! I created this retreat with the intention of offering a mindful alternative to the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Find out more details HERE.