I remember the first time I taught prenatal yoga. It was during my training in an Advanced Diploma of Yoga Teaching at the CAE in Melbourne. The ladies in class weren’t actually pregnant, but just pretending to be for the sake of a practice session in prenatal instruction. The energy in the room was palpable and otherworldly, despite only one of my classmates actually being pregnant. It dawned on me as I walked amongst the ladies and felt a tender wave of love rush over me; this was a direct way to connect with the future, creating a nurturing, loving space for women and their babies before more formal introductions took place.
That was about five years ago, and reflecting on both my yoga practice and experience of bringing our first child into the world, my approach and philosophy on prenatal yoga teaching has evolved in a way that I would not have expected.
Our baby’s pending arrival over two years ago was one that I was positively relishing. I had a fabulous, complication-free pregnancy and could not wait to give birth and experience what my body was capable of. We had a lovely team of midwives and had planned for a home birth, where I was hoping for a water birth.
And then plans were thrown way off axis. In short, bub was eventually discovered to be footling breech. Nothing much about the dream for welcoming baby into our lives happened; at the end of it I was left with a beautiful critter whom I’m grateful to call my daughter and a five-inch scar along my lower abdomen.
The weeks leading up to darling’s birth were the most upsetting, disorienting and miserable in my life and something I would never wish upon anyone. I was heartbroken, felt like a failure and illogically at times wondered if I had done something to bring what I at the time viewed as a horrendous experience upon myself.
I’ve contemplated this and looked deeply as both an instructor and student in pre-natal yoga classes, where the full realities of the birth experience, at least in my humble opinion, are not always addressed. I’ve attended yoga classes where the instructor’s sole messaging and instructional cues were skewed to the vaginal birth experience. I wondered, both before and after our girl’s arrival, where that left all of the other mums out there who, for whatever reason, birthed surgically.
You see I was a great believer, and still very much am, in the body’s ability to bring baby into the world. But I believe not giving space to the caesarean experience, as well as other interventions that mums might need or choose for whatever reason, is a disservice to some prenatal yoga students who I’d argue need just as much support, caring, recognition and space as those who have the privilege of experiencing a natural birth.
Meeting your baby under the theatre lights can be so very different, but equally as beautiful, as those who get acquainted in the labour ward, birthing centre or home. I am committed to addressing as many facets of the birth experience as possible when I commence my new class offering tomorrow at The Nest on Silas.
Whether a caesarean is scheduled or not, I believe discussing the process candidly and positively can help alleviate a lot of the fear, apprehension and potential aftermath. My intention isn’t to create complacency towards the increasing and sometimes alarming c-section rates, but rather, to give new mammas a few more tools in the treasure chest before delivery day arrives. Having a bit of knowledge can set your mind at ease before, during and after.
My hope is that all mums experience a beautiful, empowered, informed and supported birth. That mamma and baby pass through the fires of initiation with grace and strength; that if medical assistance in any form at any stage in a pregnancy or birth is logically deemed necessary and made clear from a place of respect and honesty that the mother can be at peace with the process and have faith that all is well while holding gratitude for modern medicine.
I will never forget the moment I first laid eyes on our girl, or the weight of her perfect tiny body as it was laid upon me; for that slice of time I am forever grateful. I hope all mothers are able to look back on their birthing experiences with that indescribable spark of indelible, delicious recollection, whatever path leads them to the first moment of connection with babe outside the womb.
So if you’re pregnant or practicing to be, I would be honoured to meet you in class soon, as we explore the myriad ways we can embrace our own unique journeys, support our bodies and spirits and prepare to welcome the little souls into our families.
Apologies for the delay in posting. Her Royal Turd Bird-ness has been ill and I’ve been a bit preoccupied changing the site, which I could not have done without the help of a very smart and kind lady. More changes on the way as I play with the new layout.
Anyhooo, I finally got brave the other morning. Chiclet woke up in the middle of my early morning yoga routine, and I figured it was time. Once she was sorted with her baby and blankie I made my way back to the mat. I was impressed, and would call it a success, we made it 20 minutes! She even tried a couple of the poses (down dog and half moon) which was beyond cute. Even though it was a bit abbreviated, I felt ready for the day despite the staggered, scattered and lop-sided at times routine with a toddler running in between my legs and under my body.
Yep, mums and bubs yoga might just be up your alley.
I was never big into the mums and bubs yoga. I did try a few times but it just didn’t work for us, and I found I got much more enjoyment out of the yoga if I could do it by myself while she slept. If we have another I’d like to see if he or she would be game, maybe the second time around I would be in a different frame of mind for it, but I liked keeping practice as part of “me” time. It was what I needed during my first foray into motherhood, though I may need to get more creative if I’ve two little souls about.
There’s a common comment I hear from many fabulous and busy mums. One of the first things to fall or diminish with the new addition is the fitness routine. I get it, I definitely am not as free as I was to zip to the gym, or go for a run when the whim strikes, so I’ve had to work harder than usual to carve out time. Here are a few suggestions for getting and keeping your fitness regime going:
- Get started as soon as you can
Yes, six weeks post birth, in the haze of breastfeeding, sleeplessness, recovery and dealing with the myriad visitors who stop by to meet your little blessing, find time, if only ten minutes at first, to get back into it. Maybe it’s gentle yoga or a quick walk, but despite how tired you are you will feel recharged with a bit of physical activity. Gradually increase until you’re back to a pre-pregnancy duration. You will get there.
- Don’t look to exercise as something to get back your pre-baby body
A lot of mum’s worry about the changes post birth, but everyone is different, and if you’re feeding a little squawker, it’d be dangerous to deprive yourself (your baby) of much-needed nutrients. For the first few months of getting your groove back, view it as a mental health break as well as a practice towards re-establishing your life-long commitment to health. So maybe delay the marathon training for post-weaning and savour the time you can enjoy some walks in the fresh air.
- Get babe involved early on and talk about it
I’ve only just let the girl in on the yoga routine but from very early days I’ve kept up a walking and eventually running habit with her in the pram. I talk to her about this, and tell her that mummy is getting some exercise, we walk by the park and she points and I tell her that her turn will come when mummy’s walk or run is finished. And yes, this is a regular family outing too, it’s a nice way for our family to reconnect
- Daddy special time
Once you’ve sorted out the nap and feeding schedule, or as soon as you’ve put your little soul down for a rest, let hubby(or another family member) take over for an hour or more and head out the door, guilt free for a yoga class, gym session, or other physical activity. Having some true alone time, out of the house will have you coming back in a better frame of mind, which will benefit your whole family.
- Use the creche
A lot of community centres and gyms have affordable childcare that gives you both a great time out. Your kids get to play with some cool toys and new friends, and you take care of yourself. I felt more comfortable with this once my daughter was independently mobile.
- Re-adjust your girlie session
Made some cool mum friends? Great, catch up over a walk. Find a nice trail in your ‘hood and have a goss session while getting your blood pumping. As the kids get older stopping at a playground post walk rewards good pram behaviour.
We all know how important regular physical activity is, and regardless of how active your little cherubs are, running around after them should not constitute your fitness routine alone. For me, it’s important that my girl understands from an early age that daily exercise is just something that we do. It’s important you find something that you love, and share this enthusiasm with your kids; in time this will rub off and you’ll be glad you committed to this from the start.
I guarantee a good walk or work out session has put me in a better space on those challenging days when I wanted to call time-out on the whole mum deal. But I’m in it for at least a couple decades, and I believe in addition to eating nutritious food that regular physical activity is the best thing for everyone. I hope you’re inspired by this post, and would love to hear what other tips and tricks mums have managed to work into the routine.
Ok so perhaps I’m not feeling banished, maybe a li’l? A failure? Yes, somewhat. I’ve had to cancel my Tuesday classes. Despite my enthusiasm to find a teaching groove, supposedly the winter is not the best time to try and cajole Western Australians from their homes for a yoga session?
I’ve sat many a Tuesday evening alone in the studio, waiting for one or two students to join, to be mildly disappointed when no one showed up. I’d buoy myself and say that just being there was enough, so I’d practice solo, go through the class I had spent the week crafting, and settle into a meditation, enjoying the warmth blowing from the heaters as light traffic whirred by, imagining my new future students walking into the space, sharing the yoga goodness.
And then, life changed, again. Hubby has a new demanding job that starts soon, meaning I’m hunkering down at home for the next year or so while our family readjusts to new working situations and I try and figure out how to navigate the new scenario. The thought of continuing with the current arrangement no longer felt right, though I’d only been there for a few months. Even if a few more months might have seen a turnaround, I needed to reassess.
It seems the yoga class is not in the cards right now. I was anxious ringing the studio manager. And when she understood and told me to just let it go, graciously freeing me from obligations, I felt relief, lightness and freedom. And that was all I needed to know. The right decision has been made for now.
Do I wish I was teaching a yoga class right now? Yes. Do I think it’s actually going to work out with my life at the moment? No. Thems the breaks when you have small kids and a part time job that requires attention as well, and something has to give. Heartbreakingly for me it feels slightly like I’m letting go of a small personal salvation.
What do we do when our dreams don’t go the way we planned? For now, for me, it’s taking a small step back, refocusing my efforts on getting the website spiffed up a bit, and reassessing what my next focus will be. I have some ideas, ok lots, so I know this is not the finite end. Despite a hollowness that fills my chest and the doubts about my own abilities and worth as a teacher, I’m trying to take the broad view. I believe I have something to offer and know when the time is right that the opportunity will unfold. Living through this heartache and maintaining self-belief is my work at the moment.
I’m back to purely enjoying yoga for what it is and for what I need each day. Each time I’m on the mat, I’m enlivened; though things aren’t quite fitting together how I’d hope at the moment I look forward to seeing you on the mat, one day.
So I’m finding my centre, a constant challenge as a mother who is trying to hold down a job whilst at the same time nurturing the passions that bring a fullness to my own existence. For you moms out there, I’m interested to learn how you navigated this time in your life. For me, to simply say, oh I’m a mom and that’s what I am going to do goes against every grain in my body. I need my own “stuff” to keep me happy and attentive towards turd bird. I wonder when one finds the natural groove, where things fit and flow together, if not perfectly, at least reasonably.
Well yoga on dear friends, and do stay tuned, I shall continue with my blog and add new yummy things for you to try in your home practice in the weeks and months ahead. I would be so very honoured if you stuck with me in cyberland.
On Sunday I spent a few hours in a workshop with Eoin Finn studying blissology; it was a glorious day of embodying a fun, challenging vinyasa practice that will be reflected in my upcoming classes. Much of what he said resonated. As a yoga teacher who wants her students to love their bodies, a mum who is constantly thinking about the world Turd Bird will encounter as a woman, an environmental fundraiser who can at times be overwhelmed by the state of our planet and equally inspired by the people working together to mend it I think Eoin’s hit the nail right on the head.
The time to really change our perspective on what equates to success is right now. If you have time, do have a read, or a listen to what he says. I think the more we can embody Eoin’s powerful blissology philosophy into our lives, the better chance we and our children will have of authentic prosperity in the future.
Which brings me to my favourite part of the day – well there were a few – I was the lucky recipient of an Eoin back massage in the group close; nice strong yogi hands I tell you, but I digress.
There was one goofy exercise that sparkled me. Eoin started chatting about running. Being a former avid runner, I got the “running” imitation he did up at the front of the room; the serious expression, rigid head, arms in solider mode in precise rhythm with legs. He then instructed the class to join, everyone pretending that we were running along the path on Cottesloe Beach, our responsible adult selves getting in the allotted elevated heart rate for the day.
Next, we were instructed to imagine we were three-year olds running to the beach. The room erupted into bubbling laughter, arms flailing, heads lolling and legs zig-zaggedly making the way to nowhere in particular. It was a simple yet profound reminder. Despite being accompanied by my own little joy-bot everyday, (Have you ever witnessed a young child in day to day action, life is all about finding the fun!) I have been in a bit of a funk.
For whatever reason, I’m in a space of getting things ticked off the list, moving along to the next thing, as adult life requires. I realised I’ve not been making room for real joy. What happened to my inner goof-ball?
Thankfully I have a beautiful source of inspiration in her highness. The pre-bedtime routine is a simple joyous one for us all. Counter to the “advice” out there we like to ring darling’s last bit of energy out of her, and she relishes it. We dance together, admire her twirls that give her the dizzies, help her with somersaults and have a good wild run around the house. When she’s tuckered out she let’s us know with a wave and a wander to her room. It’s such a fun way to end the night, and I think a nice memory for her to snuggle up to before she goes to dreamland. The great thing about being a parent is being a goof-ball really is part of the job description, one that I just need to open myself more to for sweet pea’s sake.
In tonight’s yoga class we’ll explore feeling joy in things that might not feel particularly joyful at the time. Perhaps the after effect yoga buzz will get the joy bubbles fizzing for you. But I would never suggest it ends there; this week I am going to propose students reconnect with that joyful, buoyant feeling of unfettered happiness. Not a conditional experience, but a spontaneous, organic burst.
My hope for you is that it’s easily found in the beautiful things that lay before you; family, friends, pets, nature. I believe most joy is in life’s little moments today, not necessarily the big ticket items we anticipate.
When did you last feel this? Who were you with and what was going on? How can you bring little joy drops to each day in the mix of your obligations and routines and pass it along to others?
Well. The amazing week passed and I have floundered into a fog of inertia and sadness. Despite this, I did my best with what was on the agenda. Darling and I got our walks in in the morning and it helped; yoga practice was smattered into the nap mix and I even managed the gym a couple times, but I’ve felt rather lacklustre of late. There have been bursts of happiness and optimism, we’re still laughing in our house (how can you not with turd bird?) but truthfully, things are just kind of meh.
I’m not sure if it’s the weather or an underlying shift, more than likely, just a cloudy period mood-wise; maybe the reality of mom’s departure has sunk in. I’m trying to be patient with the funk, not wish it away even though I miss my sprightly side, but rather observe and allow.
I think it’s natural to desire the happy state, we just need to be mindful of where an authentic buoyant feeling comes from. I’ve learned, over time, that a trip to the mall doesn’t make the blech-y feeling go away (well mostly). These moods are a natural part of life’s ebb and flow.
I wish I could write from a place of being on the upswing, but no. In the name of honesty I’m being real about what’s happening, without, I hope, dragging you down along with me! I go through the motions, with the odd inflection of inspiration and lightness. I take each day as a huge victory because I am still doing what needs to get done; still connecting and seeing wonderfulness around me. I’ll get to the other side of this, any day now. I have faith.
I’ve had ample opportunity and little nudges reminding me of how friggin good I really do have it. Intellectually I understand. Emotionally and psychologically, I am stuck in a place that is not doing me any favours. But if I dwell on the slumpy grumps too much I then get mad at myself for wasting time in grouchyland, which then invites the whole scenario to reside longer. So I just keep trying to release, accept, release. I’m in the middle of it.
While I’m down here, shout out and great big love to the girl, because what can make your heart open more than the unfettered energy of a glorious young’n? And even bigger smooch to my man for his patience and goofiness while he waits for my sunny self to return.
So, in the name of our yoga practice, how can we work with these “down” days? If there’s one thing I can’t emphasise enough it’s the importance of moving your body. I know it feels like the last thing you want to do. It was most definitely the last thing I wanted to do Saturday morning; the grey skies were telling me to take it easy and have a curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee and the newspaper while dragon darling napped. Despite the urge I knew if I got my butt out the door and went to yoga class I would be so much better for it. And I was.
Even though I’m in a bit of a blue phase it’s given plenty of inspiration for this Tuesday’s class. We’ll be working with some flow focused on uplifting spirit and opening our hearts before settling into a sweet restorative practice to nurture the soul and finish up with a heart healing meditation. I look forward to seeing you all there and hope you walk out the door with some tools for your own yucky days.
For those of you who catch up on the blog, what’s your go-to when your mood takes a nose-dive? Do share your wisdom so we are all inspired to accept but proactively manage the blahs.
I love the pleasant surprise of receiving a text from someone you haven’t heard from in awhile who you’ve been thinking about. The other day a yogini friend and I were exchanging updates; all was well with us both, I mentioned that things were good and busy. Though I miss mom’s presence around the house we seem to have found our groove. There are interesting projects bubbling in my fundraising work, I’m in the midst of an online course, yoga teaching, writing, domesticating with the hubby, socialising and looking after little turd bird and her kooky antics.
I like to be busy, but I do have a tenuous relationship with the t-word. Mostly, there’s never enough of it. Admittedly sometimes, in the mundane and tedious parenting moments, it slows to a snail’s pace. For the most part, I’m a bit testy with time. And here’s the thing, I know I should really love time so much more, as it’s a privilege to experience the life I have.
So back to my friend: she mentioned how her day started with rushing about, but she swiftly caught her attitude, instead telling herself, I have all the time in the world.
She inspired me, and I’ve worked with this little gem of a mantra all week. Within a few days of telling myself this I woke excited by what lie ahead instead of tabulating the mental checklist of things that needed to get done. I had all the time in the world.
Girlie would wake with a grumbly tummy, I’d prepare breakfast and we’d have a leisurely babble, because we had all the time in the world. I’d look at the clock and notice how early we were into the day; we’d enjoy a walk and stop to play at the park, because we had all the time in the world.
During my work days, I’d continue with my “to do” lists, these anchor me with the multiple priorities in my job, but I started to look at them differently. There was still the standard chop and change (stuff always magically comes up doesn’t it?)but I didn’t become annoyed. I had all the time in the world. I’d address the request or task and return to what I was doing. I’d leave the home office at the end of the day satisfied. Never do I manage to tackle everything that I’m trying to get done, as things are continually added to the pile, but I was confident I focused intently and had truly given my best effort. Gone was the guilt that comes from the aimless and inefficient bopping from one half completed activity to another.
The evenings elongated. Anyone with young whippersnappers knows dinner time mayhem: hungry tummies, getting worn out but excited daddy is home, plus mum juggling the odd errand to keep the house organised. Making meals, cleaning the aftermath, baths and bedtime rituals were all a joy. Because….drum roll…. I had all the time in the world!
This mindset change was liberating not only for me, but remarkably positive for my family and everyone I connected with. Taking a break from what I call my “rush addiction” expanded my entire life. In short, I got so much more done and enjoyed equally the process of being in the middle of a task and completing it. I was more patient, aware, present.
When I felt the familiar tension arise in my body, the frenetic frizzling desire to escape exactly where I was in a given moment, to rush ahead to the next thing, and in particular disconnect not only from what I was doing but more importantly who was there, I reminded myself to slow down. Stop. Breathe.
The secret always, is to be in this moment. To savour this time.
In the class I’m teaching at Sevenergy Yoga on Tuesday evenings from 7pm onwards we’ll explore how we experience time. We’ll have a play with some vinyasa, and intersperse it with more static, yin-inspired postures. Pay attention, and see how your body and mind react, if your thoughts become preoccupied with time. Are you wishing the sequence would slow down? Does your body or mind want time to move faster so you can come out of a certain posture? What happens when you embrace and accept whatever is happening right now?
We’ll continue our mindful examination of time, and how we can befriend it in short relaxation and meditation practices. My sincere wish is that you can take your insights with you and apply them to your life, relationships, work and play.
Please join me, I’d love to hear how the experience is for you. To celebrate the launch of this class I’m offering the first class free until 8 April.
For those of you out in the big beautiful world, I’d be interested to hear how your relationship with time is going these days. Any ideas you can share that help you cope with myriad priorities in life? It would be lovely to hear from you too!