A few weeks ago Rebecca Garrison, a fellow Walnut Hill alumna, made a blog post about how having a baby changes your body. And it really made me think.
This is a girl who, unlike me, was still rockin’ a super-strong-dancing-4-hours-a-day body when she got pregnant. Who was (is) a freaking Pilates instructor. And SHE was having trouble getting to know her post-baby body? SHE was struggling with aches and pains and abdominal weakness? Really?!?!?!
It was like a light turned on for me. I realized that the problems I was having weren’t my fault, and that my post-baby inability to pick up where I’d left off physically wasn’t due to some kind of character flaw or innate laziness…it was because I was trying to get this completely new body to do things that it just wasn’t ready to do!
OK, I admit, I didn’t figure this out all at once. But that blog post definitely started it.
I love my body. I love the fact that it grew and nourished a healthy and (frankly) ENORMOUS baby. But even though I had played with moving it and dancing it, and I was making headway in that area, I knew in my gut that I was lacking the pure physical strength I needed in order to keep going injury-free. I couldn’t feel my muscles. I couldn’t connect to the strength I was used to, especially in my torso. It was FRUSTRATING.
And, really, it makes sense. Pregnancy stretches you in incredible and irrevocable ways. Of course it changes you.
I didn’t know how to move this body. I didn’t know how to trust it. I didn’t know how to take care of it.
But being aware of the problem and applying a solution are two different things. I wanted to learn how to move and trust my body again. I wanted to feel strong again. So I did what I would have done pre-baby: I signed up for a yoga course.
I’d been dying to start a home practice again, but couldn’t seem to get back into it on my own…so 30 Days of Yoga seemed perfect (its tagline is “A course in finding, and keeping, your own home practice of yoga,” after all). I downloaded the video of my selected practice as soon as I could…
…and that’s where I ran into the problem of not-knowing my post-baby body.
The practice? Awesome. Marianne Elliott is great, and the flow is good and everything should have been fantastic. But it wasn’t. I was expecting to have to work hard and feel out of my depth. I was expecting to struggle a bit. I wasn’t expecting to not be able to do it at all.
I think in hindsight that a lot of the flow was a strain on my body, but what made me stop at the time was this: The main transition, repeated throughout the practice, involved bringing your leg out of downward dog and forward between your hands, moving you into a lunge. And I just couldn’t do it.
I’m not saying “it was hard so I stopped trying,” or “I didn’t like it,” or “it didn’t feel good.” I mean that a) I didn’t have the abdominal strength to even remotely attempt it and b) the belly that used to be fairly flat in spite of my curviness…isn’t anymore. There just isn’t room for my leg to go that far. Mama has a belly.
And that’s when Rebecca’s “Babies change your body” post really sank in.
Oh…I can’t just do my old exercises more gently or push through anyway…I actually have to change the way I do yoga (or anything else). I need…modifications!
And then I found some. I went to Curvy Yoga.com and found everything I needed:
Modifications for curvy women. Modifications for people who need to build strength again. Modifications for me.
Anna Guest-Jelley also has a selection of sample yoga flows that are just-challenging-enough so that I can rebuild my strength and body-connection without pushing past my edge and into seizing-up-and-hurting territory (a place I’ve become all-too familiar with since Xander was born).
Up until my epiphany, I would have (I’m SO ashamed to admit it) scoffed at the modified postures and looked for something “more challenging.” Now, I embrace them WHOLEHEARTEDLY for the pure awesome that they are. I’ve been doing them every night since Saturday. And I can already feel a difference. I feel more physically alive than I have in years. I feel stronger and more flexible. For real.
The best part is that I don’t regret my 30 Days of Yoga purchase at all. I’m looking forward to the daily emails I’ll be getting over the next 30 days. I’m loving the feeling that people all over the world are practicing yoga with me. Heck, I found Curvy Yoga through Marianne’s site (she and Anna offer 30 Days of Curvy Yoga twice a year, and I am SO signing up for it at Christmas!).
“A course in finding, and keeping, your own home practice”? Absolutely. I can already tell that it’s going to live up to its name. Just not the way I expected.
Now I’m really and truly getting to know the body I have now, instead of trying to make this completely-different post-baby body behave just like the body I had before I grew and pushed out an almost-10-pound baby.
And that…is awesome.