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March 2, 2013

Motherhood: A Whole New Level of Yoga.

“Life is not a problem to solve but a mystery to live.” ~Thomas Merton

Seven weeks into motherhood and I can affirm that it is, as my teacher Camilla says “a whole new level of yoga.” A whole new life is in your hands. A whole new level of patience and beginner’s mind is required.

I gave birth at 4:05 p.m. on Sunday, January 6. Or, as they say here in Guatemala, I “dio la luz” – gave light. At that moment, my life changed irrevocably. She, Jade, became the most important being in my life, instead of myself, as I had been up to then. Jade is the girl of the hour, and the moment.

When a baby is born, you are immediately thrust into living in each moment, responding to that newborn’s needs, learning and absorbing and figuring it all out as you go. There is a certain selflessness required to be a mother as you succumb to the cycle of diaper changes and breast-feeding, of sleep and wakefulness, of smiles and tears; yet it also feels egotistical, in a way (thinking “my baby is the cutest, most precious baby in the world.”)

Whether you are a parent or not, and whether you are on or off the actual mat, you are constantly practicing yoga, breathing in and out and knowing you are breathing in and out, in whatever activity you are doing or experience you are having. I call it yoga schmoga; basically, it’s life.

I started practicing yoga twenty years ago. It changed my life on day one and ever since. I’ve been a yoga teacher for the past eleven years, meditating regularly for the past ten. I consider myself to be Buddhist, though I am not a disciple of any particular guru or lama.

Throughout the past two decades, and especially during pregnancy and since I have become a mother, yoga has enriched my life immeasurably. It helped stave off back pain I experienced as my belly grew in the third trimester. It helped me calm down and prepare myself for the c-section I ended up needing in the end, at well over 41 weeks. It helped me maintain sanity in those first days and weeks when everything was new and difficult, and I was feeling tense and ecstatic and everything in between.

Yoga positively affects the physical body, the intellectual, overactive mind, as well as emotional health and balance. But you already know that, if you do it. If not, I highly encourage you to start practicing yoga, on the mat. Whatever form your yoga takes, from the most intense and challenging to the most gentle and relaxed, remember that yoga is life and life flows on and learning is a never ending process.

Yoga is the middle-of-the-night feedings, the screams and the laughter, the sweet moments and the ugly ones, yin and yang, duality and totality. Yoga is the upward dog and the downward dog, the toughest pretzel asanas and the most relaxed savasana. Yoga is life which is a paradox and an enigma and a miracle and is best lived here, now, in this moment, in this place.

My baby is the cutest, most precious being in the world to me, and that’s okay. I wish all beings, including her, including you, happiness, health, safety and freedom from suffering.

p.s. Is this topic interesting to you? Read more about the yoga of new motherhood at Yoga Freedom. Namaste.

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Ben_Ralston Mar 1, 2013 8:56pm

Congratulations Michelle 🙂

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Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Michelle Margaret is a heart-centered writer, teacher and creator of Yoga Freedom.

She has been a columnist on Elephant Journal since 2010 and has self-published inspiring books. She incorporates dharma, hatha, yin, mindfulness, chakras, chanting and pranayama into her teachings and practice. A former advertising copywriter and elementary school teacher, she is now a freelance writer and translator. Michelle learned yoga from a book at age 12 and started teaching at 22. She met the Buddha in California at 23 and has been a student of the dharma ever since. Michelle is now approaching her forties with grace and gratitude.

Join Michelle for a writing and yoga retreat this summer at magical Lake Atitlan in the western highlands of Guatemala!