Here’s the scene: you’re eight weeks post-partum and you step onto your precious yoga mat or slide on your Cross-Fit compression pants for the first time in months—desperate to shed the dreaded baby weight and get back to the “old you” sooner than humanly possible. You’re ready to have your “old body,” your “old practice,” and your “old strength” return and have everything be the way it’s “supposed to be.” That first workout back from the hiatus of maternity is a real slap in the face. Things don’t feel the same, but you reassure yourself, “I’ll get my old practice back.” But, here’s the thing: you’re NEVER getting your old practice back. Your old strength? Gone. Old body? Forget it. Now, before you rip up this article and go lick your wounds while holding a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, hear me out. This isn’t a bad thing.
Just like the breath, our life is dynamic, ever-changing, and shifting. One breath is not more valuable than the other. Once we have exhaled and let go of a breath, we will never get it back. But a new, perhaps even deeper, stronger breath is on its way. As a mother of a one year old, I had to find this out the hard way. As I futilely attempted to force my body back into my “old” practice just weeks after giving birth, I was met with frustration, self-judgment, and ultimately serious injury. It seemed that my “old” strength had betrayed me — left me for some other young, bendy, kid-less yogini. I had to let go of these expectations and stop chasing a breath that had already expired. Once I did, the magic of the practice began to forge a new road, leading me to become stronger and more flexible than I have ever been. How, you ask? I discovered that as a new mom, the internal aspects of yoga were far more important to my practice than were the actual physical postures themselves. Practicing these three restraints led me to form a new body, new practice, and new strength that are even more beautiful, grounded, and whole than ever before: