When my daughter Isabella was born late last year, I spent almost every single moment carrying her in my arms. Lifting her. Setting her down. Holding her. Giving her alllll my love. That of course, hasn't changed. However, as a result of all that original activity and because I was unaware of the excess weight I was putting onto my thumbs and the tendons that help them to function, I ended up with a relentless injury called De Quervain's tendinosis, which has yet to heal to this day (she's ten 1/2 months old).
As a result of this injury, I have had to discontinue my advanced power yoga practice as well as my other interest -- Muay Thai -- which means no more handstands, jump backs, side planks, punching bags... things like that. At first, I felt depressed at the state my body was in. Although I understood that I needed to be patient with my body as it recovered from having made and delivered a baby girl, I was depressed and frustrated that I wasn't able to care for my body the way I was used to caring for it - via hardcore daily Yoga and Muay Thai. I also wasn't able to care for my family the way I truly wanted to - I felt like an invalid. In the mornings I would wake to find my hands stiff and in pain. By the end of the day, after cleaning and cooking, caring for Isabella, etc... I could hardly move them. Mentally, I thought that I had no more energy to give to a yoga practice. I also found that my ego disliked the idea of doing any yoga practice that wasn't the usual intense, cardio-activating practice I was accustomed. It was a negative spiral for a while.
Finally though, and only after my first 8-hour sleep in months 6 months haha, I went to my mat with discipline and an internal mantra/repetitive thought:
It doesn't matter that I can't do push-ups right now. It doesn't matter that my body no longer feels as limber. I am going to start moving now and I will figure this out.
In the absence of the norm, I found myself becoming more creative with my yoga flows. I became acquainted with new poses, old poses, different parts of my body and especially my breath and thought patterns. I created yoga practices for myself which did not need to include my hands on the floor. I started "teaching in my mind" as if I were teaching other students who happened to have the same type of injury as myself - hands, wrists, or otherwise. As a result, I began to heal. Not only my hands (which are getting there with the help of a therapist) but my mind and soul too.
I realize now that I was being harsh with myself, literally inflexible and unbending. I was so used to a certain "Ashley" and certain "Yoga style" that I had been unwilling to accept my limitations, body, or self. How sad is that? How much time, I wonder, did I waste not practicing yoga simply because I couldn't do what I wanted? How silly!?
After meditating and reflecting on it all, I've forgiven myself and I am now ready to finally share what I have learned from this whole experience. And here it is:
Beginner's Yoga is just as amazing as Advanced Yoga because Yoga is about learning to accept the present limits of your current body - to embrace, move in it, grow with it, love it.
So, when and if you decide to begin a Yoga practice, whether you are advanced or new to Yoga, the key is to accept and love your body and your practice, no matter what it looks like or feels like. ❤ ~ Ashley
I WANT TO SHARE with you here a few resources that I have either recently come across or have been an avid user/follower of now for years. For example, meet Laruga Glaser! She is a beautiful, talented, and super-flexible/inspirational yogini. Was she born that way? I don't know. What I do know is that she has been a yogini for many, many years. Which means, that her beautiful practice is a complete and total result of what? HER PRACTICE. It's hers. Not yours. Not mine. Hers. And yet, although I will probably never be able to do all the poses that she does, no matter how much effort and energy I put into my practice, I can still admire her. I can still try to emulate her in my own ways, in my own practice - by practicing often and with discipline. And so can you!
The following video is of Laruga teaching Ashtanga Yoga. For more about Ashtanga yoga, consider reading one of my previous blogs such as "What is Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga". However, for now, consider watching the flow for at least the first 10-15 minutes. It may seem repetitive - because it is. That is one of the defining factors of Ashtanga Yoga. Within those repetition, your mind is given an opportunity to stop jumping from one thing to another - your practice becomes a moving meditation.
Purple Valley Ashtanga Yoga. (2018, March 19). Led Primary Series with Laruga Glaser. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SefpsUfI7y4&t=384s
I PRACTICED with the above video yesterday while Isabella was playing with a Tibetan singing bowl next to me (video below). :) Even though I have studied at the K.PATTABHI JOIS ASHTANGA YOGA SHALA, I don't usually practice Ashtanga Yoga as my main practice, so I too had to look up at the video some... and you may have to look up sometimes as well. NO WORRIES! Oh, and you'll also notice the use of numbers (though you may not have known they were numbers) said in a strange language. That language is Sanskrit. No worries again! You don't have to learn Sanskrit to practice yoga, but you will eventually learn some words such as CHATURANGA! haha as a by-product of your practice. Yoga is Sanskrit too --> योग ;)
After viewing the video, maybe you decide that you love it, or maybe you think Ashtanga isn't for you. That's totally okay! But please don't turn your back on it too quickly... or any type of yoga, really. My advice before you give up on a yoga style is to:
In this video, you can hear Laruga counting out the asanas :) You might also notice me modifying poses because it hurts my injured hands. Modifications are totally fine! Please don’t ever feel ashamed to modify your poses like I do, or by using a block or a strap. We were all beginners once.
OTHER YOGA BLOGS
kinolorber. (2019, March 4). Iyengar: The Man, Yoga, and the Student's Journey - Official Trailer. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvqQwr8xfgc&feature=youtu.be
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being. ~ Ashley