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Pregnant Yoga: Lessons for Life and the Environment
Thursday, 01 May 2014 00:00  |  Written by Jessica Dallas | Blog Entry

Pregnant Yoga photo by Lululemon AthleticaI’ve been a yoga practitioner for about ten years. It’s an on-again, off-again love affair marked by the usual drama found in dysfunctional relationships. I grow in my practice, take a few steps back, grow some more and then kick my mat into the basement for a spell.

I was schooled in ashtanga yoga, which is a fairly vigorous form.  Ashtanga and pregnancy don’t play well together, due to increasing weight gain and the inability to jump in and out of postures with one’s usual ease and grace.

In fact, a pregnant woman is darn near the most ungraceful creature on the planet. I invite you to discover this of your own accord. Add to the equation my innate tendencies toward klutziness and you’re looking at a moving disaster on and off the yoga mat.

The dysfunctional relationship with my practice deepened when I opted out of yoga during the last few months of my first pregnancy, some eight months ago.

I am accustomed to deep forward bends, lengthening stretches and fiery breathing. I use the heat from my ashtanga practice to encourage my body to open. However, while pregnant, a lot of the postures I took for granted just didn’t happen.

I found myself hearkening after the days of yore when I could get to point A from point B. When point C didn’t cause my feet to ache atrociously. When point D didn’t make me want to scream.

In short, I gave up during those few months. I told yoga I was involved in a deeper relationship with my unborn child. In truth, I was holding fast to old ideas about what my practice should look like.

How profoundly ironic that now having given birth to numero uno with the resulting freedom to return to the mat, unfettered, I am newly pregnant with numero dos.

(Yes, my husband and I both know what caused it and we were taking precautions but apparently my heritage demanded Irish Twins…  We are delighted by the way.)

Now that I’m in the midst of numero dos, I’m vowing to hold fast to the ideals of yoga (deep breathing, ease, grounding) rather than hearkening after the physical postures that I can no longer execute.

I’m going to start taking my own advice and learn to soften my practice a bit.

After an eight-month lapse, I felt like I needed to bake vegan cookies for my mat or it was going to reach up and devour me.  However, my mat was easily retrieved from its dereliction in the basement and presented to me with little resistance despite the dust clinging to it.

I brought my infant to the mat with me to help keep my spirits light.  I stuck him in his bouncy seat opposite me and watched him kick his hands and feet with glee. It was about six in the morning and everything is hilarious to a baby in the wee hours of the morning, fyi all you new parents out there.

I expected him to get fussy (he’s teething), but the little guy surprised me. He seemed to enjoy watching me stretch and bend. In my rigid little brain, I’m criticizing myself for a lack of endurance and grace. In his mind, he’s celebrating the fact that he has a mommy with arms and legs that move in exciting ways.

Perhaps that’s as simple as it needs to be right now. Perhaps it is just a matter of getting to the mat every day and keeping my spirits light in the company of my little guy who gets a giant kick out of moving with me.

He must remember the feeling of bouncing around inside of me while in utero. He must remember the sound of the deep oceanic breaths we made together. He must remember the feeling of peace and ease that reverberated throughout my body.

And… perhaps that’s as simple as it needs to be right now. Perhaps all he and I need do is to get to the mat every day and allow what is happening already to evolve.

Perhaps life and parenting is a matter of yoga. Stretching and moving in new, often unforeseen ways.

And there is an ecological lesson in all this, too. Regardless of the lapses in our environmentalism, we can always come back to and deepen our practice. In each new phase of our green practice, we’ll find we’ve grown in wisdom and understanding, a new depth that will serve us well in practicing and teaching. And although we may become fixated on our imperfections, our renewed green practice will yet serve as a good example to those still just watching, but who have an inherent memory of their connection with the Earth. We need just get to the environmental mat each day to speed our society’s evolution toward an ecologically conscious future.

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Comments (3)add
Written by tallcoolone , August 25, 2009
Thank you for the response, Jessica!
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Written by Jessica Dallas , August 25, 2009
The gold standard in my mind is Shiva Rea's pg CD- "Prenatal Yoga" -- available on amazon. A book that is great is Francoise Barbira Freedman's "Yoga for Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond." One of my friends who teaches lamaze recommends Sandra Jordan's book "Yoga For Pregnancy" as it is an integration of lamaze techniques and yogic practices. Thanks for reading!
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Written by tallcoolone , August 24, 2009
Are there any books about doing yoga during pregnancy that anyone can recommend?
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Eco Tip

Lower your thermostat temperature in winter and raise it in summer. In winter, set your thermostat to 68 degrees or less during the day (and wear a sweater) and 55 degrees or less at night (and add an extra blanket). Wear less or use a fan instead of air-conditioning on all but the hottest summer days. When you must use air-conditioning, set your thermostat to 78 degrees or more.  More tips...

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