From from Cheryl’s Elephant Journal article: “A Post Baby Chat with my former Tight-Bodied Yogi-Self…”
I’ll step into the confessional box and say I’ve been judging my yoga in a big way lately, especially since the birth of my daughter.
Hey you, in your bikini pressing into handstand. Yes, you. Could you come back to earth for a moment?
I’d like a chat.
As I stand wiping weetabix out of my hair I can’t help but feel a pang of envy at your lack of muffin tops, dark circles or toddler-induced exhaustion. You are a small part of the reason why I’ve been feeling out of sorts in my yoga practice.
While my rational mind tells me it is okay that it will take time to get back into my practice, my ego reminds me that my forearm balance just ain’t what it used to be.
My six pack is buried beneath a few extra layers of cushioning, while your chiselled centre is supporting you effortlessly in yet another inversion to arm balance transition. I might never reach your level, and right now I’ll hold my hand up and say: Yes, I’m slightly jealous.
I see that you have thousands of likes on Facebook. I’m jealous of that too, but can’t help to tune in to see what tropical beach you are meditating on today. As my 21 month old daughter streaks naked around the garden, I attempt a child’s pose, only to be quickly interrupted by said toddler playing horsey on my back. My practice is sporadic. It is often far from fluid these days and definitely not as energetic as yours.
I don’t know you, but you seem like a really nice person.
You have such lovely hair and a fantastic body, all those things I do not see in myself right now. When I look in the mirror I sometimes feel a touch of annoyance at my extra padding, regardless of what my body went through to have my gorgeous daughter…
22 hours of labour, 4.9kg. The roller coaster of emotions so raw that it only takes a few bars of a song from my birthing playlist to bring me right back to that very day.
Can we meet in the middle? Maybe grab a cup of yogi tea?
We could swap practice notes.
Yours: three hours of leisurely asana, meditation and a green smoothie.
Mine: 10 minutes lying over a bolster, numerous nappy changes and a cheeky G & T to greet the evening.
We would laugh at the fact Facebook only shows the shiny stuff. The perfectly Instagramed images. Not the two dozen attempts it took to get it right. The laughing, bouncing happy toddler. Not the melt down that occurred just a few minutes before in the supermarket!
I’d ask you how you are feeling. You’d tell me you think I’m doing an amazing job. You would hug me when I told you I didn’t realise how hard motherhood would be and how I would cry and feel so overwhelmed at times by this huge life change.
You would listen to my excited ramblings about how beautiful my daughter’s hair and smile are and how many cute new words she has uttered today. You would smile as I tell you how I wouldn’t swap her for the world.
Then I’d hug you as you told me you have cried tears just like me. Over the thought of never having a wonderful husband, a baby and a little family like mine. I’d realise I didn’t see the injuries you’ve had on the way to your level of practice or the loneliness you sometimes feel when you look at mothers just like myself. You tell me you feel a pang of desire for the life I lead—broken sleep, muffin tops and all.
Yes, we could meet in the middle.
We could learn that while we are in different places in our lives and practices right now, our yoga is the one cool, consistent force—it unites us.
It teaches us to embrace our weaknesses and perceived imperfections, as well as rejoice in our strengths and passions. It encourages us to drop our inner judgement of both ourselves and indeed others—for we can never really know the true story behind the eyes we see in the pictures.
Above all, we would agree it is a practice of learning to go with the flow, whether we have a luxurious three hours on our mat or five simple minutes to stop, close our eyes and breathe.
Yoga will always be here for us, right where we left it, even when life gets a little topsy turvy.
Hell, especially when it does!
We’d finish our yogi tea and look forward to meeting again.