Today’s lovely Freestyle Friday guest post is by Danielle of Mom’s-Eye View. She has a great blog about kids, life in the big city, yoga, and big issues within mental health. She loves yoga as much as I do and does it for many of the same reasons so I am so happy to share this post. Thanks Danielle…maybe one day I can make it to NYC and we can practice together. xo
When I emailed Kerry about writing a post for Freestyle Fridays I chose to write on the topic “if you do yoga, practices that awaken you.” I was excited at the prospect of writing a post for Winding Road. Like Kerry, I am the mom of a school-aged child and a toddler. Like Kerry, I stay home and freelance. And, like Kerry, I am addicted to yoga. I love reading her posts about yoga so I really wanted to contribute something on that topic.
I had weeks to write this piece and yet as the days started growing short I hadn’t begun and I started to panic. My topic didn’t sound good anymore. What if people thought it was boring? What if it didn’t make sense? And here we get to why I do yoga in the first place. Anxiety.
Pregnancy is what originally brought me to the mat. I did some DVDs at home and then signed up for the prenatal class at my gym. I won’t say that I fell in love immediately. I enjoyed the class a lot. But it wasn’t until the delivery room when I was pushing that I realized how just awesome yoga is. I actually said to the nurse, between pushes, “wow, prenatal yoga really works!” It had not only given me strength to push and flexibility to pull my legs back, but I yoga-breathed my way through the contractions, pulling beautiful purple air to the parts that hurt the most.
Anxiety is what kept me with yoga. I have had problems with anxiety for, well, my entire life. I suffered from stomach-aches many a school morning as a child and was given worry dolls as gifts. I can remember being consumed with the worry of forever lying in bed when I was maybe 7. I had been in therapy and on meds for years when I had my first baby and yet I was in no way prepared for the crushing anxiety and depression that I experienced in those first months as a mother. When I finally returned to the world, started back on my medication and seeing my therapist, and consequently stopped crying everyday and started leaving the apartment, I also returned to yoga.
I found something amazing in my practice…calm. I found that when I held those poses and focused on my breath my mind became quiet. There was no room for: what is the baby doing, is he hungry, what will we do tomorrow, will I have time to cook dinner…and on and on and on. For that blissful time, the cycle was broken and I could just move and breathe. More than that, it often kept the anxiety at bay even when I left the mat, allowing me some freedom from my own suffocating thoughts.
In the last year or two I have stepped up my practice, joining a studio and going a few times a week. I’m trying to get a home practice going, but let’s just say that that’s a work in progress. I don’t get much choice in the classes I take. I go when I have the time. I go on the weekends or when the husband is home in time for me to make a class. I take the free classes at LuLuLemon on Sunday morning. Because of this, my style doesn’t always mesh with the instructor.
What I had originally planned to write about today was my commitment to finding one awesome thing in each class I take. I do. It is amazing. It has spread to other parts of my life, helping me to be mindful. But I found one thing recently that I wanted to share above all the others; something that has deepened my love for yoga in a way I didn’t think was possible. I found silence. The one thing I have struggled with most in yoga is, believe it or not, savasana. Yes, when you lie on your back at the end and relax.
I have always struggled with my racing mind, begging it to quiet as I lie there. I have tried many techniques: imagining a river into which I throw each thought that pops into my mind, imagining lying on a beach with each wave washing away my thoughts, repeating mantras. None of it worked. We started class in a sort of supported savasana recently and somehow, someway, as I lay there I stopped trying to wrangle my thoughts and just let them go. I listened to the music and surrendered. By some miracle my mind did too. All of the thoughts that simmer and bubble there throughout the day competing with each other for my full attention, died down and everything was still. After six years of practicing, I found the thing I was looking for most and I cherish it. I think that might be the best thing I’ve taken away from yoga—the best thing that yoga has given to me.
So there you have it; a little bit pf practices that awaken me, a little bit of self-discovery, a bit of a defining moment, a dash of meditation practices, and a whole lot of love for yoga on this Valentine’s Day.
Thank you again Danielle!
Freestyle Fridays is has been going strong! I love sharing everyone’s posts, have learned a great deal from all of them and am humbled by the freedom it has offered to some. I am filled up through February but need to fill up March and beyond. Help me keep this going! Message me if you’d like to participate. I am open to ideas…send them my way 🙂
Happy Valentine’s Day!