The rhythm of life…

Your breath is your constant companion, you can take it anywhere with you and you can control it even when everything else has to land in the hands of others around you…In short, your breath is your best friend and … Continue reading

Back to normal…

I am delighted that my postnatal yoga classes have been featured in the “Heart of the Community” pages of The News, our local paper…

Not quite so delighted about the innocent enough misquotes…paraphrasing is a dangerous game…

“I don’t think you can ever fully get back to yourself after birth but everyone can definitely feel good in their own skin…”  Not quite what I said…the essence of what I said is lost in the omission of just one word *old*…

In recent years, women have been bombarded with celebrity pregnancy and post natal stories, complete with glamorous images and tales of *getting back to normal* or *getting back to being myself* or *feeling like my old self again*…

Why would any woman want to go through the phenomenal transformation of pregnancy, labour, birth and becoming a mother only to become her *old* self again a few weeks or months down the line?

I wouldn’t trade one second of my *old* self for a million pounds…she was neurotic, fearful…she thought she had all the time in the world and she was drifting…

Getting pregnant and giving birth, becoming a mother taught me so much…I learned to put someone else before myself at every waking thought…I manage on hours less sleep a night than I (or my husband) ever imagined I could tolerate…I have purpose every moment…I feel more feminine, more shapely and more beautiful than I ever did before my children…

The thought of giving birth terrified my *old* self, and she thought she would want all the drugs the hospital could offer…my pregnant self heard “homebirth” and thought, “YES!!! I can do that!” …and my pregnant self was brave and courageous and I discovered that warrior-woman that we hear whispers of…I became a warrior myself…

lightworker-graphic

Sometimes, my warrior self gets wounded…at times I am tired, sometimes I ache and there were days after the birth of my second son in particular when I wondered how I would survive the lack of sleep and the pain in my hips and the soul-sucking darkness that was my post-natal depression…

But I had a reason to survive, a reason to heal my wounds…my two beautiful boys blessed me when they came to me…of all the millions of women in the world, I get to be their mother…the darkest shadows are created by the brightest sunlight…through the darkness of depression, what kept me going was a haphazard yoga practice underpinned by a mindfulness practice of reminding myself moment to moment how lucky I was to have these two souls in my life…I kept a gratitude journal; writing down a few things each day that had made me smile or lifted my heart, and without fail that list was about my sons, it was about being a mother…I still keep that journal on dark days…

My *old* self would have completely succumbed to self-pity and let everything slide, hiding away to lick at her wounds and refusing to let them close…as a mother, I just about keep it together…because my sons have given me myriad reasons to be whole again, to find a way through the labyrinth and I thank God every day for the gift of my children…and they taught me the real value of Yoga…

Yoga was a hobby before I had my children, now it is the lynch pin of my sanity and the core of my mothering, as well as being my living…I adore yoga, it keeps me loving my body and living my life…

As I breathe in pranayama, I marvel at how my body breathes all day, every day, with no conscious control or effort…and I notice when I spend a moment connected with my breath how much calmer, taller, lighter I feel and that fascinates me still…

My body will never look like it did before pregnancy, no matter how much I get on my Yoga mat, no matter how much I diet or lift weights or swim or run or cycle…that’s ok with me…I love my body…I have a new *normal*…

I am stronger of mind & body than ever before my children came Earthside…I have a strength hewn from lifting my babies, from carrying them in slings and pushing them in prams and swings, it comes from climbing imaginary mountains and swimming imagined oceans…from jogging to keep up with scooter-mad kids and climbing ladders and slides and scrambling over the beach and through the woods…it comes from doing “aeroplane Yoga” and “cuddle cat” and from wrapping my arms around my babies, my boys and from loving them so much it hurts my heart and I have to take a deeper breath to survive the next explosion of love and joy that threatens to rip me apart as I watch them grow and learn and smile and love…

My mind will never work the way it did before my children came to me…but it is my new *normal* and it is improved, although I may be a little scattier, and some of the useful things I used to know have been lost to amateur paleontology for my six year old and Peppa Pig characters for my three year old…but as I calm my sons with quiet breathing & Sanskrit chanting, or as I do yoga on the beach with Joe,  I know that my mind works just fine because it puts my children first and foremost and finds the things they need buried deep or has the good sense to go seeking new knowledge from trusted mother-friends…

I love my body not because I sprang back to *myself* after the birth of my children, but because yoga reminds me to appreciate the miracle of the human body…it is so strong, and when I move into a pose, I remain amazed by how this body of mine also grew and stretched and transformed to be home to my babies and then to bring them into this world…My stretched marked belly will never be taut again, and my stretch marked breasts will never be polite & pert as they once were…But I am proud of those changes, they mark me as a mother…

I treasure my *battle scars* to stick with warrior analogies…why do women want to come out of the process of becoming a mother unchanged, what then is the point of having children?  I don’t need to thread feathers or bells into my hair to mark the victories of my motherhood…my body has marked itself in honour of its lifebringing and its lifegiving…I celebrate my scarred skin…I wish that all women would do the same…show me your body marked by love, your belly sagging and your breasts drooping…show me your stooped shoulders from loving so completely, so heavily…and together let’s lift our shoulders back to open our hearts ever wider and show the world what we have done, proud and fierce and beautiful…

I am more *myself* today than I have ever been, and I owe that to being a mother…and so, in essence, I supposed that quote was spot on, I don’t think you can ever fully “get back” to yourself…mostly because I hope, like me, you dragged your self along for every delicious, dirty, inspiring, exhausting, joyful, messed-up, mind-blowing, magical moment of the journey to where you are now…

Enjoy it, this moment, it will be gone soon, and you can never get back to that old self, back to normal…but why would you want to?  *Normal* is overrated…

OMx

motherhood, belly button, stretchmarks,

My Belly Button
Tree of Life

Breathe your baby into your arms

Breathe.  Inhale…Exhale…find the small pauses at the end of your out breath, just before the breath returns to your body and again just before you let go of the breath.  Find the stillness of your breath, and as you notice those small pauses, those brief stillnesses, feel yourself connecting to your breath.

Birth stone created for a friend
expecting her first baby

The more you connect to your breath, the calmer you feel…

Really?  Yes.  Mindful of your inhalation, mindful of your exhalation.  Mindful of the pauses as the outward breath ends, as the inward breath is at its deepest point.  Mindful.  The breath loves to be watched, witnessed.  It luxuriates in our attention, revels in our awareness.  The breath slows down.  It rejoices in moving more deeply in our bodies, taking us on a mindful journey from the warm air in our nostrils to the expansiveness deep in our bellies.  The breath coaxes our heart into languid rhythm, slowing our heart rate as breath & heart unite in an opportunity to take life at a slower pace.  The heart rate slows.  Blood pressure follows suit, slower, less hurried, less…

Breathe.  Inhale…Exhale.  You have all the time in the world.

Connect to your breath.  Let it connect you to your body.

Warm air in your nose as you inhale, feel it travel through the back of your mouth, down through your throat, into your lungs…bring it deep into your belly, down to where your baby lies curled in your womb…feel it fill your abdomen & be aware of your diaphragm descending into your abdomen, massaging your digestive system &  your lymph tissues, gently massaging your baby…feel it expand your body, creating more room for you to breathe and move, more space for your baby to move & grow…feel your breath in your ribcage and moving up into the topmost corners of your lungs, your heart centre lifting towards the sky, your heart & chest opening, a soothing, gentle stretch across your collarbones…the space between your shoulder blades opening, widening, easing tension out of your upper spine…bring your breath up through your spine, lifting your crown to the sky, lengthening & extending upwards, creating space between the vertebrae…welcome prana, life energy, full of new strength, stamina, healing…

Feel your inward breath nourishing & nurturing you…know that you can breathe to nurture yourself, and your baby…

As you exhale, let go…release the used breath, let go of tension, release fear & anxiety, allow the outward breath to cleanse your body, remove your doubts, and send your exhalation down through your spine, to its root…and beyond into the Earth, connecting you, grouinding you, and feel surrender as you allow yourself to feel completely supported, embraced by the Earth beneath you…let the Earth absorb your negative emotions, your tensions, your fears, she will gladly do so, recycle them, reenergise them, and return them full of goodness & nurturing…

Breathe…breathe into your body, breathe to heal & nurture yourself, breathe to nurture & nourish your baby…

As you breathe mindfully, you bring more oxygen into your system, meaning that you feel more energised, more awake…you help to prevent your digestive system becoming sluggish by naturally massaging your abdominal organs, it also gently massages the spleen & other lymph tissues in your abdomen, further helping to cleanse your body of waste products & toxins…your heart rate slows and your blood pressure may lower…you slow down, noticing how your breath feels in your body, and noticing how your body feels…you are connected to your body and your baby, able to take time to connect, to breathe…

There are myriad ways to control the breath, to enhance your breathing for more energy, to cool or heat the body, to bring balance to your breath & to your mind & emotions, to release anxiety, tension and fear, to prepare for meditation…

There are myriad ways to prepare for labour, for birth, for having your babe in arms…

Cradle of Love ~ Nancy Bright

Other posts will explore those myriads, and some of them you may like, others you will leave, but the one truth in all of it, is that ultimately in mothering, all you can do is surrender… and the only way you can do so, is to trust your breath – it is the only thing over which you, and you only, always have control.  You can learn all the breathing techniques in the world, but getting to know your own breath, learning to watch your own breath, is all you ultimately need…trust your breath & it will teach you all you need to know…trust your instinct & you will know how to breathe when it is time to bring your baby Earthside…
Your breath is your best friend, get to know it.  Breathing mindfully is all you really need to know – simply watch your natural breathing rhythm & don’t even try to change or control it.  Witness your breath.  Connect to your breath, your body, your baby.  Keep coming back to your breath.

Mindful mothering can start now, with your baby in your womb, sharing your body, sharing your breath.  Mindful breathing brings mindful labour & birth, it guides you into mindful mothering.
Breathe…you have all the time in the world…

OMx