I’ve been to a handful of yoga classes throughout the past couple years, but in December of 2014 I started to get serious about my yoga practice. I attended classes several times a week and practiced at home on my own time. I saw my body and mind change. I enjoyed connecting with others in the yoga community and bouncing from studio to studio in my city. It became an obsession, so I was shocked when my practice came to a complete stop when I got pregnant.
The first trimester of my pregnancy was not fun. I suffered from constant nausea that seemed to only subside when I was indulging in carbs, sugar, and fatty foods. This, in combination with complete exhaustion and therefore a dramatic change in my usual workout routine, caused me to throw on weight much faster than I expected.
By the end of my first trimester, and after feeling my baby move for the first time, I accepted my changing body and started to rebuild my self-acceptance. My energy level picked up and I was able to get back into the gym. I jumped right back into spinning and boxing several times a week. Two things that make me feel strong and healthy. But for some reason I couldn’t bring myself into a yoga class.
I told myself it was because I was unsure of proper modifications, and I didn’t want to injure myself or my growing baby—two fears that rarely cross my mind when I’m throwing punches or racing on the stationary bike. It wasn’t until a little over a week ago I asked myself, “What am I really afraid of?”
Yoga is an intimate experience. It’s a time to reflect and connect with who you are. To really let your fears and insecurities rise to the surface. There have been many times during a yoga session that I’ve actually been brought to tears. When I practice yoga I can feel my own strengths and limitations. The truth is, I was afraid to feel the changes happening to my body. I can power through a spin class and I can punch just as hard now as I could five months ago but to fold forward and touch my toes? I would really feel that. There’s a lot more “stuff” in the way when it comes to doing certain poses. I used to enjoy the rewards of completing a new pose like reaching a little further or holding a forearm stand longer than the last time, but now, how am I supposed to accomplish any “fancy” poses? I struggle now and it’s going to get harder as my belly continues to grow.
As I started analyzing my real fears I had an epiphany. I was making yoga everything it’s not: Judgmental. Challenging. Stressful. Scary. Yoga is not about being able to do the toughest move. It’s not about how you look when you do a pose. It’s not about everyone in the room staring at the “fat girl in the corner” (how narcissistic of me). I had completely forgotten the real purpose of yoga.
Yoga can mean different things to different people, but I really enjoy this simple explanation from David Surrenda, the founding dean of the Graduate School of Holistic Studies at John F. Kennedy University of California, “The original context of yoga was spiritual development practices to train the body and mind to self observe and become aware of their own nature. The purposes of yoga were to cultivate discernment, awareness, self-regulation and higher consciousness in the individual.”
I let myself slip into my own totally inaccurate view of yoga and why I need it in my life.
Today I went to my first yoga class in five months. Yes, certain poses were more challenging and I was well aware of the extra fat on my body that changed the way I was doing things but I felt something else too… a familiar comfort. In the dimly lit room I was able to be with myself. I was able to address these fears and let them go. It was a wonderful experience. I left class feeling lighter. Not so much in physical weight but emotional. I was able to rediscover the real power of yoga.
I’m so excited this door has reopened for me and I look forward to continuing to practice yoga throughout the remainder of my pregnancy.
I wanted to include pictures from before I got pregnant and where I’m at today. My body has gone through a dramatic change and it’s intimidating and scary to bring these differences light but I cannot be ashamed. A beautiful thing is happening to my body. I’m growing a baby. Creating life. It doesn’t get much better than that.