Here’s the thing. I first did yoga back in 2001. I was 22, overweight and totally inflexible ( I still struggle to touch my toes now). I spent the whole class berating myself for not being able to hold the poses, for not being flexible enough, for what I’d not done at work that day. You name it, I was blaming myself for it that day. After what seemed like an hour of torture, the class finally ended and I left thinking about what a yoga failure I was. And that was it. For 10 years I thought my yoga days were numbered.
And then I got pregnant. 10 years later, and I found myself wandering in to a yoga studio full of other slightly nervous expectant mums (lots of us first-time and completely and blissful unaware about what was going to unfold over the coming months and beyond). My yoga teacher was a Doula (private midwife) and she eased us gently into the world of prenatal yoga. I have to say, my favourite part at this point was the Shivasna or final rest at the end of the class – basically an excuse to lie still, in the dark for a few minutes. (Still always a class highlight)
I did yoga until right up until my first little bundle of joy came screaming into the world, and screamed all the way until he reached a year old. That saw the end of my yoga for a while. During my subsequent pregnancies, pre-natal yoga seemed a bit of a fantasy as my over-worked hubby balked at the idea of coming home to me bolting from the door with my yoga mat tucked under my arm.
What seemed like a million years after my third (and final) baby was born (in actuality, probably about 7 months), I finally decided that I needed some me time – I needed to do something about my car-crash of a body, and my tired and addled baby-brain desperately needed some quiet time and reflection. Enter postnatal yoga…
The first session was actually a disaster. I failed spectacularly to be able to hold any kind of plank position, and on further inspection was told by the teacher that I had diastasis recti (other known as a bloody-great big gap between my stomach muscles) which could fit around three fingers in. I left feeling a bit dejected and berating myself for letting myself get into such a state. Great start.
The thing was, on reflection I actually quite enjoyed myself. I was surrounded by a group of like-minded mums who showed patience and kindness when I was struggling to keep up, and who showed me how to get into position (despite not being able to hold it). And Pippa, my lovely yoga teacher telling me to go with my body, and do what felt right (and not what looked great, or worrying about whatever anyone else was doing). Being present, and clear about what I could achieve. Aspiration to what I’d like to achieve (being able to hold plank position for starters). Acceptance from a group of like-minded people.
The other pretty life-changing thing for me was taking time to meditate. Taking time to reflect on what was important, and letting go of things which were weighing me down. Growing my self-belief and sense of worth. Showing myself that I can achieve things with my body that I never thought I could. I felt like this was a real turning point in my fitness journey, and also in my life. Growing self-belief, learning to let go of things and taking time to evaluate what was really important to me. Pretty powerful learnings.
I’m not sure I ever told these people how much they did for me, so thank you. If you’re reading this, thank you. Thanks for starting my journey back to fitness, back to self-belief and back to finding myself again. It really has meant the world to me. Namaste. X
Want to get in to Yoga, but don’t know where to start? My tops tips for finding the right yoga class for you are:
Take time to find the right style class for you – try a few until you find once which feels right. There are so many approaches and styles of teaching – it’s not one-size fits all.
- DON’T compare yourself to everyone else. Go with an open mind, set your intentions for the class and enjoy yourself. Don’t give yourself a hard time if you struggle with a pose – go home and work on it!
- Try and practice yoga at home. There’s a fab YouTube Channel from Adriene Mishler aka @yogawithadriene with an enormous selection of yoga to try at home (no equipment needed other than a mat!) https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene
- If you want to improve flexibility, strength and technique you have to work at it – you won’t improve by practicing just once a week so stick with it if you want to see results!
- Try and find someone to go with – it’s much less daunting than going alone, and you can motivate each other to keep going regularly.
- Get some clothes you feel comfortable in but make sure it’s not too baggy – loose fitting tshirts can be a pain when you’re doing downward facing dog or inversions (basically anything upside down!)