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Getting Back To It (Whatever Your “It” Is)

My “it” is yoga.

Before I got pregnant, my life revolved around me. What a beautiful time that is, hey? I could do WHATEVER I wanted, so I went to yoga.

I found a yoga studio here in Saskatoon, One Yoga, and immediately fell in love. With the teachers. With the community. With the space. With the people I met. With the healing I found. With the inspiration that struck me after each class. With the reflection. How high I could get. How grounded I could be. The ease and the challenge. How tailored it could be to each individual. I loved it so, so much. I was there every day, sometimes multiple times a day, for over a year.

When I became pregnant, I tried my damn hardest to keep up with the groove of going to class. I tried a pregnancy yoga class. I tried just going to gentle classes. It didn’t matter what I tried, however; I was brim full with anxiety. What if doing this will hurt the baby? Looking up the “do’s and don’ts of yoga while pregnant” just made it WAY worse (don’t EVER Google mom shit... doesn’t solve anthing). What my practice had taught me up until that point was, “If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.” So I stopped. I didn’t feel educated enough to practice safely while I was pregnant, so I didn’t do it anymore. I was heartbroken, but I knew that I was doing what would be best for my baby.

Fast-forward to postpartum.

I attempt to get back in the groove by going to a postpartum yoga workshop. Every Tuesday night for 6 weeks, I’m free from being a mom and am getting back to practice safely. It felt SO good. But after the workshop ended, I didn’t keep going. Looking back on it now, I think it was mostly out of fear. The workshop was great, but it made me have to recognize how different my body was now. I felt defeated that all of the work I had done to be strong and to be able to get into difficult poses pre-baby, was gone. I felt weak and sore and frustrated. I didn’t want to go back to a regular class to find out that there were other limitations to my practice because of what my body had now become. Even worse, I felt like such a huge hypocrite. As someone who is passionate about body positivity and loving your body as it is postpartum, how could I be feeling these things? I wasn’t upset about how my body looked, but I was still super judgemental about how it felt and what it was and wasn’t capable of.

Newsflash, Jess. You just grew a baby and birthed it. The change that you can see on the outside of your body is only a minuscule piece of what has changed. The physiology of your body after you have a baby changes too.

I finally came to the conclusion last night that it was worth trying again. The owner of One Yoga, Ryan Leier, was teaching the 9 PM class. A great teacher. My baby would be sleeping already. Some time for me. And this time, the way I viewed myself was SO different.

While I still recognized that I was still tight in some places and still needed to work on strengthening certain aspects of my practice again, I noticed that my strength had moved.

My hips weren’t as tight.

My arm strength made poses that used to be hard for me, way easier.

I didn’t have as hard of a time getting settled and dialed in.

If a pose started to hurt, I could work through it.

My endurance felt greater.

As the practice went on and I continued to notice these things about myself, I admired the curves of my new body in the shadows dancing on the wall. The extra curve of my hips and love handles. The curve of my strong legs. The wave of my new mom shoulder strength; you know, from hauling kids around all day.

As the practice went on, I also started to get the things back that I loved so much about practice in the first place. I felt high. Grounded. Inspired. Motivated. Challenged. Relaxed. Settled into my body. My brain eased of thoughts.

I went home and crawled into bed late. I had the best sleep ever. I can’t wait to go back.

The lesson here?

Maybe there is something from your pre-mom days that you are dying to get back to; a piece of your former identity that you wish to renew but you have fear or doubt about returning to it. Maybe, like me, you’re afraid you won’t be good at it anymore or that it will come back differently. Let me offer you this: you might not be good at it in the same way and it might be different, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be positive. You might find that you are better at something in a different way than you used to be. And that’s okay. In fact, that’s great.

When you become a mom, there is no doubt that your identity is in flux. You may have had to give up a lot of your former identity to take on this new life of raising and caring for new life. and that ache to get back to what you used to be may cause a lot of guilt. But the really beautiful part begins when we can take pieces of our former identity and start collaging them with pieces of our new mom identity.

You are a stained glass window made of imperfect, worked-at pieces that are rearranged to create one incredible masterpiece.

So whatever your “it” is; make time and go back. Have an open mind. Enjoy yourself. Notice the little differences and how they might serve you better now. Admire the beauty of your new self meeting your old self. You might be surprised at what you find.

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