by Lisa Deck, LCSW
I first tried yoga several years ago, through an "intro to yoga" type of class, and I quickly concluded that I didn't like it. It was boring, I thought, not enough action. People call this a workout? Felt like a lot of stretching in weird positions and being quiet to me. Bottom line, I didn't get it, so I abandoned it.
However, a couple years later, when I was struggling to conceive, I happened upon the Yoga for Fertility classes at Pulling Down the Moon, and I was intrigued. At that time, I was trying everything and anything I could to conceive naturally. So I signed up for Phase One, not sure what to expect, hoping maybe yoga would be the cure for whatever was preventing me from getting pregnant.
What I found was a space to let go of stress and to connect with my underlying feelings and intentions. I found a way to forgive my body for not being perfect and a little bit of trust in the grand plan for me and my future baby. It didn't happen all at once - which is why I kept coming back week after week (after week). I enrolled in Phase Two and, still not pregnant, after that I attended an ongoing drop-in group. It became clear that yoga was not going to be my magical solution to conceiving. Bummer. However, what it did was give me something positive to do while working towards my goal. It also helped remind me that nurturing my body and soul was a better path to pregnancy and motherhood than worry and self-loathing. It was a lesson I needed to learn.
Once I was finally pregnant, I quickly signed up for the prenatal yoga classes that I'd been eyeing and longing to join for so long. I walked in proudly, as though I had fought a battle and won. I was so happy to be on this side of the fence. In our practice, the teacher encouraged us to connect with our babies and send our love to them. It felt so good to do that, to actively welcome my little one. I also valued the chance to be among other expectant moms. It felt like a celebration. I appreciated having time away from my "normal life" to just focus on caring for myself and my baby within. It felt indulgent and right.
Last week, for the first time since my baby's birth, I went back to the yoga studio. It has been about six months since my last practice. The place was new, but the serenity I felt was the same. It was a gentle yoga class, which I've discovered IS my thing. Again I was encouraged to honor my body and spirit. I was given permission to do only what felt good. And I spent my time breathing and quieting my mind. Stretching and observing. Feeling grateful.
What I noticed was that I was brought right back to the yoga studio where I first meditated my wishes for a baby. And I easily conjured up the feeling I had, sitting quietly with my hand on my big belly, stroking it and sending my baby love. I found that there is a thread of peace and self worth that has woven its way through these three phases of my life, and yoga has been the vessel. For me, it is not a workout for the body, but an exercise in letting go for my mind and a refueling for my soul. It's something that I could not have predicted, but has become a vital part of how I care for myself both physically and spiritually. And for that discovery, among many things, I am extremely grateful.