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Journey Back to the Mat

Yoga has been a part of my life for 10 years.

I was 19 when I took my first hot class and dislocated my knee-cap (don't ever lock your knees!)

I was 23 when I took my first 200hr YTT and started teaching at several local studios.

Since then I continued my training, completing and additional 300 hours of YTT and attending workshops and mini-courses over the years. I taught a lot of classes. At one point I was teaching 7 classes a week, on top of my full-time job as a school teacher, and I became completely burned out. I didn't have any time to focus on my own practice.

I slowed down. I reduced my teaching schedule to 3-4 times per week. I made sure to get myself to at least one a week as well. Yoga was a huge part of my identity. I was a yogi and a yoga teacher.

Then the pandemic happened....and I got pregnant. I had to stop teaching for both reasons, and I mostly stopped practicing too, except for a couple of online prenatal series.

Time passed, and 8.5 months later, I gave birth to my son via emergency C-section. The recovery was brutal. I couldn't even pick up my 6lb baby or stand up to change his diaper for the first week. It took a lot longer than the expected six weeks to feel anything close to healed. When I did finally start to feel better, there was no time for yoga. I was running on a major lack of sleep and all of my awake time was spent caring for my newborn. I would try to practice when he went down for a nap, but I was lucky if I got more than 15 minutes.

I started out slow. I was nervous to push my body too much, since it had been over a year since I had done more than gentle yoga, so I knew this was the right place to start.

When I was 6 months post-partum, I signed up for Baby and Me Yoga with Laura Martini, she has a lovely studio in the basement of her home only a block away from my house, which was a bonus for me. I could put my son in the carrier and walk to and from class. My husband suggested that I also sign up for a class to do on my own, without the baby. I went back and forth between flow and restorative, and I ultimately chose restorative. I told myself it was because I could benefit from the weekly relaxation, and that it was conveniently after my son would be asleep. But the truth was that, I was afraid to attend a flow class.

I didn't want to feel weak in my body. I was already struggling with everything else, I didn't want my yoga practice to be a source of struggle too. I felt like I had lost so much of what made me, me, already, I didn't want to find out if I'd lost this part of me too.

A few weeks passed, and I attended my classes. I loved the "Baby and Me" class, because it gave me an opportunity to meet some other new mom's and share about the joys and the hardships, and not feel so alone. I also loved the restorative practice, as it did allow me to leave the house, and spend some quiet time with myself. It was gentle, easy, and within my comfort zone.

Then my son and I got sick, and we had to miss some classes, and I was offered a few options to make up those missed days. I signed up for them without thinking to look at the styles. Before I arrived at the class the following week, I quickly looked up the schedule and realized I had committed to a Vinyasa Flow practice. Shit, shit, shit.

I opened my email, ready to tell Laura that I couldn't make it. That something had come up or some other excuse to get me out of it.

Then I thought, if not now, when?

If I don't go now, when will I? Do I want to be stuck in my fear forever?

Hell to the no.

So I went.

And guess what? It was the opposite of every story I had created in my mind.

I didn't feel weak, I felt strong, though my muscles were screaming after a year of dormancy.

I didn't feel lost, I felt found. Moving my body through each transition felt familiar, despite the screaming, muscle memory kicked in.

I didn't feel limited or stuck, I felt free.

After a sun salutation sequence, I stood at the top of my mat, with my eyes closed and silent tears fell down my cheeks.

Here I was. I was here.

I had this beautiful moment with myself. For the first time, in a long time, I felt at home in my body.

My practice might be different, my body may never be the same. But yoga will always, always, always be part of me. My mat, will always be a space where I can let myself fall apart, and come back together.

I am so glad that I went to that class, even though I was scared.

I am so grateful for the constant lessons that I learn from this sacred, ancient practice.

And a special thank-you to Laura Martini, for providing a safe and welcoming space for me to find my way back to my practice. It has meant more than you know.

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