Today my body feels a wee bit like I got run over by a train. Or maybe like I went for a kick-ass 5 mile run. My muscles are that sore and achy. But what I actually did, is something that I’m very excited about on multiple levels, for many reasons. The big mystery activity? A fantastic hour-long yoga class at a local studio yesterday morning. It was awesome.
My love affair with yoga started in college. I did classes on my semester in Africa in ’02 and then again at Doane in the Spring of ’04. But since then, the only yoga I’ve gotten in has been the prenatal DVDs that I started using during my second pregnancy (and loved, loved, loved! seriously – all mamas-to-be should get this set!). No formal classes since college, though, so when Avani opened almost two years ago, shortly after Raegan was born, I was excited about it. But then RL was a crappy sleeper and we moved and I found plenty of reasons not to go. Last fall I was all gung-ho again, but then found out I was pregnant, again, so again, more excuses not to start.
Now, in the midst of all this sleep drama and third baby (beautiful) chaos, one of my goals has been focusing on myself and letting go of excuses. That isn’t exactly easy to do and as you know, my me time doesn’t exactly come in big installments. But I have to have some things for me or I am going to fade out and be of no use to anyone, which is why I’m walking and reading and writing and looking for other ways to just be me (not Mama or Wifey or Teacher, etc. Just me). Enter Thursday’s purchase of a ten-class punch card at Avani. It’s a beautiful thing. I can go to any of their classes offered at various times throughout each week and the thing never expires. So right now my goal is to make it once a week. With the aforementioned chaos, I think that is both a good and realistic goal. Once a week is better than never, and once Lincoln gets a little older and we get some more routines established, maybe I can bump that up to twice a week, and maybe then to the unlimited-monthly card (how cool would that be?!).
Why am I so jazzed about this? Because my class experience yesterday was amazing. Clearly part of it was the physical reaction my body had to the class. The movements and the music felt good the entire time. That’s not to say that it was all easy. In fact, most of it was not which was both humbling and inspiring for my postpartum-third-baby-belly. I couldn’t believe how hard some of the moves were for me. Holding my arms in a plank position and then trying to drag a towel on the floor with my feet towards my hands? The gal next to me could go all the way. I could go maybe a quarter of an inch. While that might sound disheartening, it wasn’t. If anything, it gives me more goals and improvements to look forward to, because I know if I stick with it I will see and feel results in a month or two or six. I will get stronger and more flexible and I can give myself the space and time to let those things come. And while I knew by supper time last night that I was going to be insanely sore today, I’m good with that, too, because those aches in my muscles they tell me that I am both alive and aware in this world and what’s better than a reminder like that?
Another reason the class felt so good was that it helped me clear and focus my mind a bit which is a practice that I think will really help me get my sleep back on track. We silently set intentions at the start of class and the instructor reminded us continually to state those back to ourselves, so I spent the whole hour celebrating myself for 1) being there and 2) being aware of my body. It was that simple, but that powerful, too. When we ended in Relaxation Pose, I found myself almost in tears at first and then grinning from ear to ear by the end of it. Apparently that radiance stuck with me because when I jetted off to the birthday party of a friend’s son right after class, my friend and two others commented immediately about how good and happy I looked when I got there. Who knew, but apparently yoga is a good remedy for BRF, too!
In all seriousness, the reason I’m writing about this is to remember those feelings and my original intentions and to hold myself accountable for continuing with this practice. I also share this with you because a lot of you reading this are parents and I want to encourage all of you, myself included, to remember to take care of you. As I keep adding elements and avenues of me, I see myself holding my own and keeping more calm with the day-to-day crazies of meltdowns and meal times and me-centeredness that is life with three Littles. I know they see and feel and appreciate the strength I am giving my body and mind with each of my efforts, too, so even though I am focusing on me, I am also helping my family as a whole.
Of course I’m still going to have moments where I feel stress and want to cry, “I am TOTALLY FREAKING OUT” (thank you, PBS, for HD’s new favorite show, Peg + Cat). But that’s the point. It’s OK for me to have those moments and those feelings. It’s what I do with my head and my breath and my words in those moments that will have the greatest impact on my little family. Might as well use my yoga practice to make them as centered as possible!