How my home yoga practice helped me love my body

How my home yoga practice helped me love my body

Yoga mom Megan, writer of  Stable Mable introduced herself to me at a recent ChicagoNow party.  I relate to her life as a stay at home mom balancing babies and finding time for yoga. I remember that somewhat isolating time in my life when I was always searching for an opportunity and childcare to get out of the house to attend a yoga class.  I love how Megan instead brings the yoga to her home and told me how much she has grown and benefited from her practice. 

I am proud to share Megan’s take on how yoga helped her love and body and so much more. 

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With great pride I can say that my at-home yoga practice has helped me both love and respect my postpartum body. At first, balancing a healthy lifestyle with two kids under the age of three seemed daunting.  My second pregnancy took my body on a ride. I suffered crippling sickness at first, and later gained fifty pounds in a very short time. My son arrived during the infamous “Polar Vortex” and exercise was the farthest thing from my mind as I tried to handle the demands of a newborn and a potty-training two year old. To make matters worse, I began suffering from post-partum depression, a swift and crippling illness all its own. I stubbornly (and foolishly) believed that my depression would lift if I just remained calm. Thankfully, I spoke up and began receiving the treatment I needed. I began taking an antidepressant daily, and my mood lightened a bit.

A dear friend and fellow yogi suggested that I increase my daily water intake and that I try integrating some easy exercise into my life.  I scoffed at her recommendation to exercise, realizing that I had a mere few minutes of my day when I didn’t consider myself “needed.” I was also struck by this realization. I was so “needed” by everyone else that I never took the time that I needed for myself. I started my yoga practice as an escape from being needed by others and as a response to the cry from myself that I needed time of my own.

I began my home practice this past January and started covering my progress on my ChicagoNow blog as a means of making myself stick to my promise of trying yoga for 30 days. I struggled finding a practice that fit me. I had a mat, I made the time, but I didn’t feel connected with any of the online instructors or the moves they were advocating.

I felt clunky and awkward. I figured one of the blessings of the modern age was that the internet was chock full of options, so I kept trying.  My efforts paid off and I found a practice that I could connect to with an online instructor, Adriene Mishler, whose instruction can be found on YouTube or Vimeo as part of the Yoga with Adriene series. Adriene’s instruction provided quick workouts, light-hearted commentary, and an overall feeling of ease. I found myself looking forward to my few minutes of “me” time. I also started listening to my mind and body and found that I was craving these moments of solitude and stretching.

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After 30 days, I decided to continue. I’ve branched out and tried a few other instructors, including dropping into a class from time to time, but I still prefer my at home practice, largely because there is no planning involved. Life with a one year old and three year old isn’t easily navigated, but I can always manage to make a few moments to practice. There are days when I’m interrupted, but I consider it a victory to quiet my mind for even a few minutes a day.

There have been some noticeable changes from my at-home practice, changes that helped me learn to love and respect my new body. Yes, yoga has managed to get me back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. I’m appreciative of all the compliments I receive on my body, but my shape was never my focus. Instead, I’m impressed and thankful for my new strength. I’ve learned that my body is capable of so much and I’ve learned to make my body something I can rely on, instead of feeling betrayed by. The act of carrying my sons is hard work (any mom would agree); by strengthening my core, I’ve avoided the physical therapy that I landed myself in after holding my first son in my arms. I feel stronger all around, and more confident because of this. I am able to be a better mother because of yoga.

I’ve also kept myself out of my therapists’ office. Yoga provides me a much needed release of the stress I carry. I’m an intense Type A personality, and, I’ll admit, its taxing. Yoga provides me with a means of laying down all my weight and then only picking up what I can handle at one time. I feel more optimistic than I have ever before. I wake up each day thankful to live it.

All of these benefits from a simple yoga mat and a few online videos.  With complete honesty, I would say that I didn’t think a home practice could yield such results. I’m proud to write of my experience and I urge any woman—mother or otherwise, to give themselves these gifts. It doesn’t take much—20 minutes a day, a pair of comfy pants, and a computer connection, and the payoff is immense.

Do you have an at-home yoga practice?  Or do you prefer to practice in the studio?  

Thank you, Megan.  You might also enjoy reading: Finding my Balance in Parenting with Yoga, Living the 8 Limbs of Yoga and 10 Things to Know Before Your First Yoga Class.  

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