Hello dear readers!
I’m happy to be here, surrounded by silence and about to embark on the process of turning thoughts into sentences. My dear mother is out with the babies at the playground. I’ve just finished up a short practice and I’m seizing the moment to write about how the yoga practice went throughout my second pregnancy and into Motherhood 2.0.
First Trimester: I stopped with the Ashtanga sequence and practiced along with some prenatal sequences designed specifically for the first trimester. Mostly, I needed more time to rest as I found the symptoms this time around pretty heavy handed. My body and mind felt the stress of not having the asana and prananyama practice to support me through this early time, I tried to keep myself breathing and making this a more introspective practice, asking myself how I could turn things around without these strong pillars of support.
Second Trimester: As soon as I entered my 13th week of pregnancy, I signed up for prenatal classes at Purna Yoga in downtown Helsinki, which I really enjoyed. Classes began with breathing and visualisation. We focused on our heart chakra and did some protective cocoon building, drawing the light and energy from our heart chakra up to our heads and then spreading our arms out and to the side and down to the earth, encasing ourselves in this golden ball of nurturing, protective energy. It was a wonderful way to connect with your body and the growing baby within.
We then began moving and did lots of work to find stability in the centre of the pelvis, rather than being tilted forward, as tends to happen with the changing structure of a pregnant body. We emphasised lengthening the spine and creating space in the side body, which felt wonderful. I’ve been feeling breathless lately (hence not so much feeling to do pranayama) and so opening up the upper back, chest and shoulders really felt beneficial to getting some more breath and oxygen flowing.
We used lots of props, like bolsters, chairs, the wall and straps hooked into it, so there is not much chance to generate an ongoing flow. This can feel a bit jolting for an Ashtangi, used to getting on the mat and moving oneself through a meditative state. This feels more like you build your poses and then hang out, dismantle the poses and then move onto the next thing. But once you are settled into the props and the pose, they feel wonderful and you can really hang out in a pose for a good while.
I felt at my pregnant best during my fifth and sixth months. We were in warm, sunny places and I felt full of energy, strength and flexibility. I didn’t dare practice more than some modified primary series during my first pregnancy; however, with this one, I was able to practice, with modifications of course, a good chunk into my intermediate series practice as well. We even managed to film some Ashtanga-based pregnancy sequences this year at Purple Valley.
Photos courtesy of Alex Hedges
Teaching wise, I worked throughout the Thailand and Goa retreats, and it was only during the last week and a half or so of the Goa retreat in February where I needed to be more judicious about what sort of adjustments I could manage. Luckily, we had a stellar team in Goa so I could sneak to the back for a bit of a sleep when it got too heavy.
Third Trimester: As I moved into the third trimester, I began to slow down a lot with the asana practice and begin to mentally prepare for labor. For one thing, we were back in Finland in March, so the body naturally stiffened up as a result of this change in environment. Physically, it became all about managing the discomfort of late-stage pregnancy. I went back to my weekly prenatal class and practiced ‘breathing the baby out.’ I had a great burst of energy for nesting, as I got all of Sesam’s baby clothes out from storage and ready for his brother. Mostly, I took walks with Sesam around our neighborhood, savoring the last moments with him as the only child. In the final month, I did a powerful new moon to new moon liturgy every evening in preparation for a safe home birth. Those were special moments, with Sesam hanging out with me, watching and waiting for me to finish chanting.
Fourth Trimester: Now that little baby Sumu has passed the third month, the fourth trimester is officially over. Much has changed since the first doddering days postnatal. I’ve been on the road to recovery, first by incorporating some gentle post labor exercises I learned in postnatal yoga. I began doing them days after the birth, as they are very gentle and can be done while lying in bed, to begin to close the body slowly, slowly. During Petri and Juha’s summer yoga retreat in Kustavi, I managed within the span of two and a half weeks to build my practice back up to Navasana, followed by a short back therapy sequence and a shorter finishing sequence. I haven’t managed to sustain this mind, but it felt nice to live and breath with the Ashtanga sequence during those weeks. Daily practice also helped alleviate some tough shoulder and lower back pain I was experiencing prior to the retreat. Stress, stress, stress. Exhaustion and lack of sleep…that does a number on your back.
Now that I’m back home, I’m managing to do some yogasana for about 15-30 mins on most days. I mix it up for the moment, incorporating back therapy and strengthening poses. A short daily meditation, first thing in the morning (oftentimes while lying in bed breastfeeding), is a must and I’ve started doing a short pranayama sequence as well since these are effective and efficient ways to calm my nervous system, setting my mind up well for the day ahead.
And of course, appreciation and gratitude. Thank you, thank you, thank you ❤
So much gratitude for my people.