On Sunday Yoga for Pregnancy at Inverloch Shala started back for 2018. Some familiar faces. Some new ones. And a notable absence with one of last year’s mamas, now a new mum, having given birth the day before. Happy days!
For me, this is such a special class to teach. While I do try to sing the song of yoga being an exploration and an opportunity to develop self awareness in all my classes, I find that in the pregnancy class there is a magic bullet in the mix that affects how deeply this is taken on board.
When we are nurturing a tiny fellow traveler, we are more likely to drop the inner narrative about all the things that are so apparently very wrong with us. The fact that we can’t bend forward so deeply. Or that our tree pose isn’t Instagram-perfect. Or that our abs may not be strong enough to make plank pose as easy for us as the person on the next mat. I have noticed that the students at my pregnancy classes more often have their focus on the bigger picture. The attention is less on how they are mastering the physical elements of the practice and more on the exploration of the act of moving. Of breathing. Of sensing. They allow. They trust. They take the pressure off themselves to perfect the poses, whatever that actually means. They move with a strong connection to self.
I teach yoga and perhaps my perspective is different now because I am holding the space for my students. But as someone who has practiced for a long time and been to many many classes, I know that old inner narrative all too well. And I know that so much of the narrative we run internally is negative.
We are so hard on ourselves and even though yoga practice is about taking the journey inwards, of svadhyaya, self observation, all too often the distraction of all-that-we-are-not gets in the way.
As people who like to roll out a mat and take some time delving into a yoga practice, I believe setting an intention of permission at the start of the practice makes all the difference in the world.
Permission to be guided by the body. Permission to explore. To be curious. To be compassionate towards ourselves. And to welcome whatever presents. Whether that is the body showing strength or vulnerability, tension or ease. Being aware that it’s all right there. And that every time we touch our fingers to the mat, it is a fresh practice. A new experience. A meeting of self.
People say to me sometimes, “ I don’t know how touching your toes can bring about this yoga zen thing.” And I get that. To someone who doesn’t practice yoga it must seem a bit of a stretch, pardon the pun. But sometimes I think that it’s the gentle unfurling of the spine, being open to the nuances of the movement, having empathy for the areas not moving so well as well as appreciation for the fact that so much of the body does move wonderfully well, that does bring about this sense of well-being and ease that we yogis look for. As they say, it’s not about touching your toes as much as what you learn on the way down.
And at the end of the day, getting that in touch with how we really feel is what leads us to be able to sit with ourselves. Permission leads to acceptance. It’s high time we all liked and accepted ourselves a little bit more don’t you think?
So, whether you’re leading into your practice with a bump out front, a cranky lower back or with few extra kilos at your sides, take a leaf out of the book of my yoga mamas. Give yourself permission to be yourself. To welcome your vulnerabilities as well as celebrating your strengths. To be guided by your body and appreciate actually having the opportunity to do so. To sit with the concept of Sahaj. What is, is. That’s where the magic is.
Written with heart felt intention.