For mothers, once the whirlwind of the first months with baby is calming down, and life is settling into some kind of routine, new realities emerge.
No, you’re not the woman you used to be, with the body you used to have. It can prove difficult to come to terms with our post-pregnancy body, whether it features stretch marks, c-section scars, saggy breasts, wobbly tummies, or wider hips.
For yogis, there comes the time to realize that our practice, as we knew it, belongs to another era.
The first time I tried Janet Stone’s 20 minutes Radiant Mom practice, I crashed on my mat after the two last vinyasas, begging for a child’s pose respite, panting like a heavy smoker after a 100 yard run. It was a real test of my fitness levels and strength.
I must admit I felt a bit down after that. It didn’t help that my little man had a tummy bug, and that he had soaked me in projectile vomit twice that day. At that moment, I perceived some irony and provocation in the title of the DVD: “radiant,” really?
I’ve replaced my skinny jeans and cute silk tops for baggy…um, baggy everything. I’ve traded rocking the Casbah for puke on the sofa. Facebook and Google advert generators bombard me with pictures of muffin tops.
“How radiant do you think that makes me feel?” I interjected in my rumination, which quickly spiralled down into mild rage and nostalgia: I want my body back.
Confidence Lost and Confidence Gained
As in all major processes of change, loss is invited to the party. Motherhood brings enormous amounts of happiness but it also takes away familiar things. The shift of priority and identity tends to overshadow other underlying changes. So, we may feel more at ease each day with our new role as a mother, but when it comes to our post-baby body, we can find ourselves ridden with new insecurities. There is confidence gained and confidence lost.
After this first practice, I had a good sense of where I was. I was petrified to see how unfit nine months of pregnancy and six months of sleep deprivation had made me. To tell the truth, the last thing I wanted to do was to step back on my mat and face this reality again. I trusted however that only with patience could I build my practice again. Knowing how impatient I can be, I would need a lot of support and nurturing; Janet Stone would definitely be the woman for the job.
I met Janet Stone a few years ago in Vancouver during my Yoga Teacher Training. I was two weeks pregnant with my first boy then, but I didn’t know that yet. The theme for the weekend workshop was arm balances. She made us fly, but also sweat a lot the whole way through. During those two days, I discovered strengths and skills I didn’t realize I ever had.
Janet Stone is a very special teacher in the sense that she carries you gently through graceful, yet strenuous vinyasa sequences; she boosts your confidence and bolsters your ambitions effortlessly, but above all, she frees you from the cobwebs of fear that trap you in your comfort zone. Many times over the weekend, I surprised myself in a challenging arm balance, and wondered in mid-air: how did I even get here? Her sequencing and pace left no time for over-thinking, expectations or apprehensions.
We were all where we needed to be: in the now of performance.
I found the same qualities in her Radiant Mom practices, and for many reasons, hers was the voice I needed to listen to. One to guide me away from nostalgia and regrets, away from to-do lists and projections, and one to constantly ground me back into the here and now.
After practicing the short class for two weeks, I decided to up the ante and move on to the 40 minutes session. Now three weeks on, my confidence in my body is growing. There is still a long way to go on the journey back to my practice, but I’ve rediscovered the strength and consistency that will assist me.
From the start Janet Stone invites us to start from scratch, to be present to our new reality and “to release the past of what you used to be.” The two invigorating flows are self-contained, time efficient, precisely sequenced with the right amount of challenge. They cover all the areas of the body that need working and softening. They help rebuilding core and pelvic floor, but also finding stability in the legs. I especially love the shoulder and wrist stretches in the 40 minutes and “stole” some of them to teach to my fellow new moms at the baby club. In these classes, Janet Stone instigates acceptance and distracts us from dwelling the small losses that come with the immense blessings of motherhood. When we might regret the lack of time to spend on our own practice, she simply reminds us that “what we have is right now; we treat it with love and compassion.”
Now in the evening, when baby goes to bed, I kiss him goodnight, I unroll my mat, and I’m in for my quick yoga treat. I come out of it a changed woman, serene, centred and refreshed. In other words—radiant. Oh, it’s so good when mama gets some yoga!
You can find the two practices on the Radiant Mom DVD and the 25 minutes one on Gaia.com.
Photos courtesy of www.janetstone.com
And feature picture Hernan Pinera on Flickr.
[originally published in Elephant Journal.]