"Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."
I recently learned this lesson when taking the whole family on a weekend excursion. My husband had a soccer tournament and "I" had yet to tag along for what was described as a fun and social weekend. So we packed up the boys and headed off to Saskatoon.
Part of me was thinking, no problem, we can do this. The media, social media, friends and family questions how to travel with two children under the age of three and I kinda felt like, what's the big deal. I'm going to have fun and a social weekend.
This is not what happened...
Now, don't get me wrong, there were wonderful aspects of the weekend (sushi in North Battleford, swimming at the hotel pool) but the not so great parts were spending time in a dark hotel room during the day (naps, anyone?), not sleeping myself at night with the noisy neighbour next door the first night and the anticipation of a noisy baby waking up my quiet neighbours the second night. We didn't even attend one soccer game!
So my learning was...
"Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."
How does this apply to yoga?
In many ways but particularly to this week's practice of baby wearing yoga.
It is with all good intentions this type of practice. Our teacher is wonderful. Yet, baby boy isn't too keen on being strapped to me, facing inward for a whole hour. Can't blame him, can you? We gave it a try and about ten minutes in, I called an audible. Time for him to come out even though we were the first to do so. Quite frankly, we were both uncomfortable (read: a 20 pound baby strapped to my front is not a friend of my back nor pelvic floor).
I was the odd (wo)man out in class but who cares. I had learned my lesson before and didn't bother pushing myself into something that was not enjoyable. Why bother bonding with my son or try a yoga practice if it is uncomfortable?
In the end, we will continue to attend the class but will likely be separated by some space...because we can.
Where do you need to step back in your yoga practice or life for some space? And stop doing something just because you can.
More yoga (life) adventures to come,
Tree trunks? Yep, I got them. My legs are thick, for lack of better words. And its likely how my ancestors thrived on the farm...especially with all the physical labour that days gone by required.
I can say it.
I use to hate them. Finding a pair of pants that fit in the legs and the waist is a never ending struggle.
But now I embrace the strong base of support I own.
Well, sort of strong...
As noted during pregnancy, I found that last post-partum period was "hard" on my legs. They withered away to nothing and truly, I think I lost a fair amount of muscle mass.
With this revaluation, I've been adamant to keep my leg strength. I am the first to admit that I love squats. So when our teacher this week said we were going to do chair pose (utkatasana), I started to grin!
As I descending into the seated position, I felt like I was home. Granted, not a low as usual nor was it particularly easy but I knew this is something I need to work on. Then the teacher threw in a twist, literally.
Cued to bring my hands into pray position in front of my body, I started to wobble. Then told to rotate the left arm to the outside of the right thigh...and thats when I lost it. That being my strength. It is intriguing to me how each body part interacts with each other. I need to be strong through my core to keep the pose. She found my current achilles heel - my core!
Even though I struggled (and breathed through it!), I enjoy revolved chair pose (parivrtta utkatasana) almost equally as I do chair pose. It is in the challenge that we move forward.
Revolved chair pose is a leg strengthen exercise but it also provides a great upper body stretch. The chest, shoulders and upper back benefit. The core, no doubt, is also challenged especially the oblique abdominals. Engage the pelvic floor and transverse abdominals, and you've got yourself a core challenge (note - this is my achilles heel if you didn't catch it earlier!)
The pose is excellent for a spinal twist as well. It tones the internal organs, including the kidneys and digestive organs. All a while trying to challenge your balance!
Not only did my legs get the work they need but my core did too. Honestly, my mind did too. It takes coordination to do this pose!
Always an adventure on the mat,
I've been thinking a lot about the camel pose (Ustrasana) lately. Maybe is it because I sing "Alice The Camel" song on a daily basis but also it has been key for me to work on backbends. I've already written briefly about backbends, which has been essential to help with opening my chest and slouchy shoulders due to late night nursing and carrying baby and baby things. But these aren't the only reasons I am drawn to the camel pose...
This past year has been one of many changes for me. The most significant change was becoming a mom. In light of this, I realized the camel can be symbolic of my journey so far on two fronts.
1. Camels have reserves of water, and I, like the camel, have been delving into my reserves many days over the past year. My thirst for knowledge (when does my baby eat this or that?), patience (when will he sit by himself?), and sleep (how long will he sleep tonight?) have been constant. I really didn't know exactly what I was signing up for with motherhood and recently I've reflected on what has changed. Part of me is experiencing loss (of a life I had pre-baby) but it is greatly overshadowed with the presence of my fantastic son. Reading the book, Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Millera, has been a breath of fresh air (recommended by a yoga teacher and mom) and it too has been nourishing my soul.
2. Camels are work animals who carry heavy loads. I, too, have been literally and figuratively carry a heavy load. As I stated above, I'm carrying a 25 pound toddler many places and all his associated things. But I'm also carrying the load of being the primary care giver to this child for, let's say, another 18+ years of my life. Not a light load but something I am ready to take on.
I look to the camel pose now as a physical chest opener but also an energizing pose to allow me to open up to change and to refuel my reserves. Interestingly, chest opening is thought to release dramatic emotional displays and I am ready for this vulnerability. In one of my yoga books, it is listed as exhilarating!
All in all, camel pose is an advanced pose which has many alternatives to allow almost anyone to try it. In my research, it is common for some people to actually experience nausea and lightheadedness during this pose due to the extension of the back and neck. So some cautions need to be taken.
Ready for the humps and bumps ahead...and now I know more about camel pose and how it can help!
Photo credit: aktivioslo
It a somewhat sad week for my yoga practice. It is my last week with my eight month old, Liam, in our registered postnatal yoga class. We've been attending since he was eight weeks old and have transitioned through the sleepy classes (I loved savasana [corpse pose] during these early classes) to sitting up and having his own practice to the busy days of a crawling baby (trying to corral him with bolsters while I try to do poses).
I cannot say enough positive things about postnatal yoga. I attended Lotus Soul Gym but I pretty sure other yoga studios in Edmonton offer these classes. The classes were not only for me but for Liam as well. He practiced "baby yoga", interacted with other babies and had baby massage. I too benefitted in many ways. It was a physical practice but much more so an emotional and mental practice. In the early sleepy classes, the positive words and affirmations were candy for my soul - particularly a new mom's soul. When the feeling of being overwhelmed, fatigued, worried and frustrated, the class was time to decompress.
Another benefit was spending quiet, uninterrupted time with my son. Cuddles and cradles are a part of postnatal yoga. And for that I am so grateful for.
So whats next? Well, family yoga is an option but more realistically is probably solo practice for me. Just need to make sure I schedule it and ensure childcare is in order!
Postscript: I just found out that Recreation Services at the Unversity of Alberta is offering a Parent and Tot Yoga class at the Saville Community Sport Centre. It is a drop-in class and I might try one session to see if mobile Liam will manage this class as we transition our yoga practice together!
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.