I wish I practiced yoga everyday, wore fancy athleisure, drank green smoothies, and meditated.
I’m a self-proclaimed yogi wannabe. I wish I practiced yoga everyday, wore fancy athleisure outfits, drank green smoothies, and meditated each morning. I know that is not the definition of a yogi. It is actually the stereotype of what many people think a yogi is. I Googled the definition of “yogi” (because I Google everything) and it says a yogi is “someone who practices yoga”. Well, that’s boring. That means I was a yogi. Hooray!
I recommend yoga to everyone. At least give it a try for a few weeks and see what happens. For me, I feel so much better both mentally and physically when I go to a yoga class a few times a week. Since we moved to Toronto in June, I haven’t been going and I really need to get back to it. I don’t know why it’s so hard to start over in a new place. It’s probably because I don’t know what to expect and I’m having to start a whole new routine here. “Renee, get your sh*t together”! Ugh, I’m mad at myself just writing this. Anyways, if you’ve never been to a yoga class and are thinking of going, do know that it can be both physically and mentally uncomfortable at first. Let’s talk about the physical challenges now.
You’re gonna be like “f*ck me” when the average looking older woman sitting next to you in a class does everything on point and with ease while you struggle through.
THE MENTAL (RAGING ANXIETY).
The mental aspect of yoga was the hardest part for me. I will never forget my first yoga class. I had wanted to try yoga for so long and finally I mustered up the courage to buy a mat and cute outfit at Lululemon (always helps with motivation), chat with the salesclerk at Lululemon, and sign up for a class. I didn’t know what to expect and I was nervous. I’m sure others in the room had no idea how I was feeling. I look athletic, I’m tall and thin (and wearing Lululemon) So, I must be a seasoned yoga-goer. Is that what people were thinking OR is that what I thought people were thinking about me? I think I was probably projecting the stereotype of what someone who does yoga looks like onto other people. I don’t know. Like, “omg I hope people don’t look at me and think I know what I’m doing!” I will say that every yoga studio I have been to in the last few years has been extremely diverse in terms of the type of people who attend classes. It has been all ages, males and females, and all different body shapes and sizes.
Back to the class. The room was quiet (and hot) and no one was talking to each other. I was uncomfortable the second I walked in. My workout of choice prior to starting yoga was CrossFit. Quite the change of pace from a yoga class. Loud music was always blasting through the speakers (and not the radio-edited kind, if you know what I mean). People were loud, friendly, and interacting the entire class. I loved it. Now, here I was in this silent room with a bunch of strangers who were just sitting and waiting. When people did talk it was a quiet whisper to their friend sitting next to them. It’s funny how we read the social cues in a room. I knew right away when I walked in how I should behave and what I should do and not do. I remember wanting the class to just start because sitting in this quiet room was so uncomfortable for me. Like, “please god make this silence with strangers stop”! As I sat there I was wondering what was wrong with me. Obviously a defense mechanism for me or coping strategy when I’m uncomfortable is to talk to people, make jokes, etc. Couldn’t do that this time! Pure torture. But also neat because I learned something about myself. #nerdalert
We were only a few seconds into the five minutes of silence and my heart was racing.
After the five minutes from Hell, we went through a typical hot yoga vinyasa class. On my walk home I remember being sweaty AF and happy that I had gone. I carried my mat in my Lululemon bag like “yeah, I’m cool.” Despite the five minutes of anxiety during what was supposed to be a calming meditation, I kept returning to class. It took months for me to be comfortable during silence, but I got there. When we found out we were pregnant in January 2018, I knew I would continue my regular yoga classes (not the hot ones, calm down), and I was excited to add prenatal classes to my weekly schedule.
For me, prenatal yoga wasn’t a physical challenge in the sense that I was “getting in shape”. There wasn’t really a ton of movement or intense muscle strengthening. But, boy did it stretch out the hips! Common benefits of prenatal yoga include: reducing anxiety, improving sleep, decrease lower back pain, and increase strength and flexibility needed for childbirth. Because I had been doing regular yoga for a couple years before getting pregnant, I didn’t notice most of these benefits (probably because I was already benefitting), but I did realize a few benefits that aren’t typically talked about or obvious that I can share with you.
Other Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
- Meet other mamas: I loved going to the classes early and just chit chatting with other Moms, or the teachers. You got to hear other women’s pregnancy experiences, learn about pregnancy-related events or classes in the community, share tips and tricks, etc. It was nice to bond with women who were all going through the same thing.
- Turn off your mind for an hour: This is true of any yoga class (if you’re like me, you’ll get there once you’re past the raging anxiety stage). During a class you become so engaged in what you’re doing and trying to accomplish that your mind is focused on the yoga and not ruminating about what you’re going to make for dinner that night, or whether your thong is showing through your leggings.
- Hips: Oh my goodness. You don’t realize how tight your hips are until you start opening them up for childbirth. Like, daaaamn. They’re gonna have to open whether you want them to or not, so, you may as well start stretching.
- Connect to your babe: It’s really nice to be quiet for an hour with no distractions and listen to your body. Every hour of prenatal class is spent preparing your body to welcome the little babe into the world. Everyone has such busy lives and it is difficult to set aside time to just be. I wish I was into meditation, but I just haven’t been able to do it consistently. Going to yoga classes gives you the opportunity to connect with yourself, and if your pregnant, connect with your little babe.
- Breathing: Do you even breathe Bro? We all know there is a breathing element when it comes to labour and pushing, etc. It is great to practice and get used to that rhythm, but in your every day life, do you know how good it feels to breathe deeply? To be honest, the breath work in yoga classes usually feels strange to me. I’m not very good at it. The eight seconds in, hold four second, eight seconds out. That kind of stuff. I try, but I don’t feel like I’m getting much out of it. I probably just need to practice more to get the hang of it (like everything else with yoga). But, just taking a big deep breath every once in a while throughout your day is life changing. I didn’t realize how shallow I would breathe all day… it’s a wonder I’m still alive. Breathe! It feels amazing. I remember my doctor asking me if I practiced deep breathing while I was pregnant and my response was “omg, I f*cking love breathing!” I need to get that on a t-shirt.
Think about all the training and prep people do both mentally and physically before they run a marathon. And here we are pregnant, and most of us just wing it.
If you’re pregnant or trying, look up some prenatal yoga classes in your area and give it a try! Giving birth is like running a marathon. Think about all the training people do both mentally and physically before they attempt to run a marathon. And here we are pregnant, and most of us just wing it. And I don’t blame the women. I blame our healthcare system. Of course there are fantastic physicians who will make suggestions (like prenatal yoga, or pelvic floor physio) to pregnant women. But, I’m talking about the basic standardized care that is currently in place for pregnant and postpartum women. It is absurd. There is so much that can be done to help with both the birth of the baby and the postpartum recovery. Prenatal yoga is a great place to start. Next week I hope to get into my experiences with pelvic floor physiotherapy and perineal massage. Yes folks, I said perineal massage. See you next week!