From Headstand to Headaches.
As I write this, I am nearly 16 weeks pregnant with my first child. While I have a long way to go, I’m amazed by how much I’ve learned in such a short time. As a yoga practitioner and teacher, Swadhyaya, or self study forms a large part of my practice; there’s something extremely fulfilling about watching your own mental processes and then getting out of the endless mental chatter that accompanies all of that. Pregnancy has been, and I imagine will continue to be, a huge lesson in self study.
Pre-pregnancy, I loved the strength and power behind a good jump-through, taking flight in arm balances, seeing the world from a different perspective in headstand. But for some reason, none of these have felt right during my pregnancy. Suddenly, I’m so focused on what’s taking form in my womb that Balasana (child pose) has become the main feature of my home practice.
My practice has changed as a result of all those lovely pregnancy side effects too. Headaches, coughs and colds, and fatigue have overtaken me at times. While I’ve always been one to listen to the needs of my body, pregnancy has taken this concept to a whole new level.
Some days I’ve stepped onto the mat, willing my body to do a little more – maybe not a jump through or headstand, but at least a good sequence of strengthening poses (I’m going to need that strength for the marathon of birth coming up in a few months time!). There have been days when my body has agreed, other days it has flat-out refused. I’m left with little choice but to surrender to its will. A gentle restorative practice, some pranayama and meditation do the trick though, and often help ease the nausea that’s been a staple feature of my being for the past three months.
Then of course there have been those days when I feel on top of the world – full of energy, bristling with excitement and joy, happily connecting with the little person in my belly. I listen to my body on these days too – maybe doing a few rounds of Salutes to the Sun, a nice strong Warrior sequence or Utkatasana (chair pose).
Since falling pregnant, the change to my practice has been significant, and some days I miss the power of my old practice. But to be honest, I’m enjoying nurturing myself and my unborn child with more restorative postures. I feel so connected to my baby and in tune with what we both need. And what a living lesson in listening to your body – something I urge my students to do all the time. This journey, which is only just the beginning, has reminded me of how important it is to be mindful of your physical and mental state in the moment – not yesterday, next week, or two years ago – right now. I’m taking each day as it comes – slowing down now doesn’t mean slowing down forever.