• Yoga practice as a new Mum

    It has been six months since the arrival of our little boy, Morgan James Watkins and my thoughts drift to how his arrival has changed me, challenged me and shifted my yoga practice. Gone are the long practice sessions on the mat, quiet moments of meditation and even attendance at a regular weekly class. Gone is the time and space to look inward, forgetting the clock, silencing the chattering mind and finding that serene spot of peace. So how is it that since giving birth I feel my yoga practice has stepped up a notch?

    Perhaps I have lost some of my core strength; chataranga is more of a challenge than it used to be and finding the energy for any major inversion such as adho mukha vrksasana (handstand) is almost impossible. Instead of rushing to regain that old strength I am learning to celebrate the different strength of this new body – the strength that carried my little boy for 9 months, birthed him and now feeds him, comforts him and copes with an alarmingly small amount of sleep! It is not the strength of body that I found on the mat that I nurture now but the inner strength to care 24 hours a day, fuelled by a deep love.

    To be honest before becoming pregnant I was always a little sloppy about my home practice. I had regular classes to go to and inspiring teachers to challenge me and lead me to new places. I struggled to motivate myself to practice postures I didn’t like and tended to opt for a familiar practice of my old favourites. I enjoy practicing in the company of others. Since Morgan arrived my mat is out daily. Yes there is a drive to “get back into shape”, shift some of the post pregnancy weight and reacquaint myself with my abdominals but this is not the reason I have returned to the mat day in day out for the last 6 months. I need my practice now more than I have ever needed it and this time I have one of the best teachers I have found yet.

    A baby is the most perfect yogi. Continually in the present, there is no memory of or holding onto the last spurt of tears. When any baby gazes into your eyes there is nothing more present and alive. When I practice with Morgan on my mat I am able to spontaneously and intuitively practice, switching between postures for him and postures for me. I am finding ways to practice vrksasana with him balanced on my knee, downward dog with a kiss to his forehead and there is nothing that spurs you on to a deeper paschimottanasana than a giggling baby lying on your legs just waiting for a kiss. His natural lotus is inspirational and when I practice the, previously avoided, pose of ananda balasana (happy baby) I have a great example of the perfect posture right there in front of me.

    This quote sums it up perfectly, “My Guru told me; that child, which is you even now, is your real self. Go back to that state of pure being, where the ‘I am’ is still in its purity before it got contaminated with “this I am” or “that I am”. Ramana Maharshi

    Finally Morgan is teaching me how to become more open and available to the moment. Following my intuition I respond to his needs during our practice on the mat and in our life off the mat. Unhappiness follows for both of us if I attach too securely to what I want from our day. If he doesn’t sleep at exactly the time I want him to sleep I practice ‘letting it go’. If he doesn’t eat the fresh food I have prepared for him I practice ‘letting it go’. It’s not that I let go of trying to help him find structure in his day it is that I ‘let go’ of the anxiety when my attempts fail. It is a great yoga lesson.

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“We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing? (136-137)”

― Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras

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