I went to candlelit yoga by myself last night. This was the first class in a year that hasn't been a prenatal or postnatal yoga class that I have been to. It was incredible! Yet I admit it did feel a bit odd without my baby girl at my side.
We have been attending postnatal yoga classes together at this same studio, and these classes have a much different energy than a typical yoga class. It's a group of mothers taking care of their babies while attempting to follow the yoga teacher. Overall I find it very entertaining and enjoyable, but it's definitely not as relaxing as a traditional yoga class. My little one tends to nurse for half the class, needs a diaper change, and the other half of class I'm trying to be creative in maintaining eye contact and connecting with her during sun salutations and figuring out how to hold her through the warrior and standing postures. At one point I look around the room, and there's only one mom out of eight of us who is actually in the same posture as the teacher. I smiled, and the voice in my head responded with, "mom life".
My own mom graciously volunteered to babysit last night so I could attend my first yoga class since pre-pregnancy and pre-motherhood. Nearly everything has changed since baby Rosali arrived. I automatically reached down for the diaper bag, yet suddenly realized I didn't need to bring it, or anything really other than my phone, keys, and yoga mat. I don't even use a purse anymore, now the diaper bag has evolved into my purse. So I carried all three items in my hands and left for yoga by myself.
Tears accumulated in my eyes and rolled down my cheeks as I set up my mat in the studio. The same song was playing from a studio in Portland I used to attend, and a vivid flashback arrived of the last class I went to a year ago with two friends right before I became pregnant. The crying felt like I was saying goodbye to my independence in a sense. By no means do I regret anything as I’m extremely grateful, honored, and joyful to be a mama to Rosali, but I guess with anything in life we usually have to give up something in order to gain something. I thought of her often during the class, but was still able to drop in and be present within the space and with the yoga practice.
I was under the impression candlelit yoga was going to be a more relaxing class since the first word in the class description was relax, but it ended up being a slow vinyasa class that was still heat-building and challenging for me. I hadn't done a downward dog since pregnancy, and I'm nearing 12 weeks postpartum now. I rested In child's pose during many of the vinyasa flows, and I realized I needed to use props for the first time in several of the poses we did.
This experience was rather humbling and brought me back to being a beginner as I found myself approaching yoga much slower and more mindfully being in my "new" postpartum body. The forward folds felt foreign since I couldn’t do them with my belly in pregnancy, but towards the end of class I finally allowed myself to relax into the folding postures and I felt a great release of tension in my low back that must have been accumulating over this last childbearing year. Even though I am not as flexible anymore and couldn’t bend as far as I could before, I’m rediscovering my body and realize how different I am today than I was a year ago.
Carrying a baby in the womb, giving birth, and then carrying a baby in my arms and carrier pack has their own set of challenges, joys, and strengthening qualities, yet I still can't fathom all these physical, chemical, and emotional changes a woman goes through in this process. My identity has changed, too, and I'm still in awe when the words "my daughter" come out of my mouth. I'm still experiencing some pain since giving birth and have been focused on my little love more than myself, but I realize the importance of self care so I can continue giving energy and caring for her.
I am grateful to be going through this process of rediscovering my body, and I hope to gain the patience required to do so. I am also rediscovering life through the eyes of my baby girl since everything is a first for her. What a joy it is to be able to share these experiences with Rosali while still taking time out of the day to take care of myself, too. I am looking forward to attending more yoga classes, both with and without my little love and the diaper bag.
Happy summer solstice 🌞