One bad-ass mami

Hi friends,

Another late and short post on this Monday evening. Lots of workshop wrap-up yesterday and travel back to the base today, but I’m still determined to get this one out as a response to last week’s post.

Thank you so much for everyone who posted comments on the blog and on Facebook in response to my mother’s post. It seems like it resonated with a lot of people, which is way cool.

My mother is one bad-ass woman. Seriously, she’s such an inspiration, the way she’s delved into this yogic lifestyle, started not in the first flush of youth. And yet, she approaches her asana practice with such consistency and diligence, not for the glory of advancing into more glamorous, eye-catching postures, but for the value of keeping the body healthy and in well-functioning order. I think her mental drive is one her main strengths. She doesn’t make excuses for herself, she never has and most likely won’t start now. She doesn’t use her age against herself as a reason not to give things a go. I mean, she’s not taking mad crazy risks either and injuring herself, but that spark of curiosity that has been blazing throughout her life is very much present.

I think that’s what it is. That spark.

Makes you want to be around her.

May we all practice with enthusiasm and sparkle, no matter the series or posture (or age!).

images om    and  2000px-Heart_corazón

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Reflections of an ageing Ashtangi

The following post was written by my mother, Celia Nyamweru. Enjoy!

Ashtanga yoga is a family affair for me – I started practicing after my daughter, Wambui, began to share her life with the highly respected Ashtanga yoga teacher Petri Räisänen. In January 2011 they invited my husband and me to join them at Petri’s retreat on Koh Mak island in southern Thailand. I celebrated my sixty-ninth birthday the following July, when I was at my second retreat, the one run by Petri and his long-time friend and business partner, Juha Javanainen, in Houtskar, south-west Finland. Since then I have attended these retreats every year, usually for two or three weeks.  2016 was the seventh year of my retreats – and incidentally of my seventy-fourth birthday. As I’ve got older and stiffer, I have seen Wambui gain in skill and confidence, both as a practitioner of yoga and as a teacher. She and Petri are now the parents of a 2.5 year old son, Sesam – but I will come back to that later!

The way I have come to understand Ashtanga yoga, your chosen teacher is a very important person in one’s practice, the person to whom one turns for advice and by whom one is given permission to attempt new asanas. I consider Petri to be my instructor, but I only actually practice with him twice a year, during the Koh Mak and Houtskar retreats. During these retreats he makes time available for personal consultations, as well as running group sessions where he addresses people’s questions and demonstrates particular asanas. As his mother-in-law, I feel that I should keep a low profile in these sessions. I try to be very scrupulous about not bothering him with yoga-related questions when we are together at meal times or sharing family time during the retreats. I am a retired university professor and I know how exhausting it can be to run workshops and field trips when one is constantly bombarded with student questions! I am lucky to be able to turn to Wambui for questions about my practice as well – including reminding me of the Sanskrit names of some of the asanas!

During the months between the retreats, I practice at home. I try to practice five or even six times a week, most weeks, and I think this frequent practice is essential as one ages. We are all of us getting older – but obviously there is a difference between ageing from twenty-nine to thirty-four, and ageing from sixty-nine to seventy-four! As I practice, I am constantly aware of my body and how it is changing. I think I have a naturally flexible body, but my upper body strength leaves a lot to be desired. It took me about three to four years to get my legs into full lotus, and I am still working on it! But I find that much easier than Bhujapidasana and Kukkutasana, which remain distant goals.

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Balance is said to be a challenge as one gets older, and I look with envy at other people’s perfect Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, though in fact it is the transitions within this asana that I find most difficult; once my leg is out in front or to the side, I can usually remain fairly steady. And in Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana, I find I can usually bind if I do so once my head is down, though I cannot bend forward with my hand already binding! In the transition from Kurmasana to Suptakurmasana, I find it almost impossible to bring my feet together, however hard I wriggle them. It is much easier for me to get out of Kurmasana and then go into Suptakurmasana as a new asana. I mention these details to show how I am constantly making concessions and taking small short cuts, which I assume will increase as the years pass. Petri and Wambui are very tolerant and understanding about this!

At the same time there has been progress; there are some asanas that I consider as the benchmarks or hurdles that I use to monitor my efforts. Marichyasana D is one of them (I’m sure I am not the only person who feels this!) I cheat a bit with this one, since I am much stiffer on the first side when one is twisting to the right. My first right hand twist I do with my left foot on the floor; twisting left I can put my right foot on my thigh, first time round. Then I turn back to the right hand twist again and this time put my left foot on my thigh – and I can usually bind, however inelegantly! Another benchmark is Sirsana, which I have been working on very incrementally for the whole seven years. I still need the reassurance of the wall in front of me as I go into the pose, and I still need to go up with bent legs rather than straight legs. But most of the time I do not need to actually feel my feet on the wall before I straighten my legs fully, and I am slowly trying to bring my straight legs slowly down to the floor as I come out of the pose.

Last July Petri suddenly gave me a few second series asanas, which came as a surprise and an added challenge. I had no time to read up on them or to watch anyone else doing them – I was on the mat and following his directions before I realized what was happening! Luckily I was able to consult with Wambui later and also refer to his Nadi Sodhana book for a sense of what I should be aiming at. I don’t think my Achilles tendons will ever allow me to proceed very far with Pasasana, but I am excited to be making tiny improvements in my balance in Bakasana. I take the precaution to put two cushions in front of me in case I plop forward onto my nose, as has happened several times.

Being retired means that I don’t have to rush anywhere after my practice – but during the retreats I find that family life makes some demands on my practice, especially in Houtskar. Juggling a busy professional schedule with care for their son Sesam is a huge challenge for Petri and Wambui, and over the last three years I have been able to make a modest contribution to this. At Houtskar Petri usually goes for his own practice soon after 4 a.m., and I would start my practice as early as possible (before the first group session that begins at 5 a.m.) so that I can be finished before 7 a.m. This allows me time for a quick shower before I take over watching Sesam from Wambui so that she can teach her class; we still have to make sure that each of us has time for breakfast! Later in the day things are slightly less hectic, but I have spent many hours walking with Sesam; first with him in a baby carrier, later in a stroller and most recently keeping him company while he plays in a sand pit.

As I get older, I worry more about injury. So far I have avoided serious injuries, though at times I notice bruises on my upper thighs, probably due to the pressure from Marichyasana B and D! I am extremely cautious with my legs, in particular my knees, moving very slowly in and out of the standing asanas. And when doing some of the seated asanas like Janu Sirsana, I give my knees a kiss now and then to thank them for being there for me! Yoga has made me extremely aware of my body and how it continues to change. I think that the main challenge over the last seven years is that I now find it harder to practice in the early morning as I wake up stiff and sore after the night’s sleep. I broke my left arm in 1999 and my right pelvis in 2009, and the residual stiffness from those injuries is increasingly making itself felt. By mid-afternoon I am warmer and more flexible, though I still find I practice extremely slowly. One of the challenges of doing Mysore practice in a group is the sight of younger people going through their practice so fast – I know one is supposed to keep one’s dhristi in all the appropriate points, but one can’t help noticing some things!

Being part of a group during the twice-yearly retreats means that other people also notice me! Over the years I have built up a group of ‘yoga friends’ from several European countries whom I meet at retreats, and many of them have given me tremendous encouragement about how my practice has developed. They notice improvements that I may not be aware of, since I feel I am always practicing at the limit of my ability. And last summer I also learned something unexpected from one of them; it seems that Petri has been using me as a source of inspiration for older people with remarks like this: “Celia started doing yoga aged 68 and look where she is now; no reason why you can’t do this at the age of 55.” I was a little surprised to find myself used as a role model in this way, but I have to think of it as a compliment! I am sure yoga will continue to be an important part of my own life, of my family life, and a help to me as I negotiate the challenges of living in an ageing body.

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Guess who’s baaaack?!

Hello hello lovelies!

It’s been a minute; almost a year (but not quite) since I last wrote a post and let me tell you that I am super happy to be back! 🙂

Some shifts in daily life – kiddo in daycare and less time on the road, relatively speaking, open up some opportunities to write on a more consistent basis. Yay!

First off, let me start by thanking all you folk who’ve let me know that you, or someone you know, follow(s) my blog and have been asking when I will write some more. It means the world to me that people might find some value here as this is my main goal: to be of service; somehow; in some small way.

In fact, so committed am I to this that I plan to write a blog post weekly. I’ll be publishing new content on Sundays. I can’t promise to be perfect in this but I’m making this a priority of mine this fall, so do follow this blog and be part of the adventure.

Speaking of being part of it all, I’d like to open this blog up to the community, so please get in touch with me if there’s some topic concerning yoga, healthy, mindful living, parenting and all round general awesomeness that you are interested in exploring.

One last thing and don’t mind if I do… shameless plug alert… 🙂 For those of you living in/visiting the Helsinki region: Interested in some private, one-on-one Ashtanga yoga, Yin, and/or Pregnancy Ashtanga yoga classes? How about some massage by foot press? Comment below and I can DM you further information.

Don’t know what massage by foot press is? Never mind, I’ll be writing about it on my next blog post (coming this Sunday!) so stay tuned…

Stay well yogafam…Om ❤

Ashtangi Mami x Purple Valley Yoga Center

Hey now…so I’m fixin’ up a quick blog post here in Glastonbury after a week or so in London town. I assisted Petri in the morning mysore classes during his three-day workshop at The Life Center  in Islington. Those mornings felt very tranquil. In a naturally well-lit and spacious shala there was a gentle, quiet and meditative atmosphere to the room. Almost without trying, the synergy in the space felt effortlessly relaxed. In general, we found big-city London exciting, dynamic, super diverse and multicultural but also a tad (as in, very) draining; especially on the old Underground, what with its long winding stairwells and serious lack of lifts, combined with the baby buggy and all. Yes, Glastonbury, with its one main street and fresh country air is much more to our speed…I feel creativity and life force rushing back en masse…Ahhhh, lovely!

Having said that, however, fellow commuters on the Choob were staggeringly polite and desperately helpful (save for rush hour) when it came to strangers lending a hand by helping to carry the baby stroller up and down the stairs. I managed to not shop at all in London which actually wasn’t all that difficult in the end. There were lots of pretty things to appreciate and not buy, of which I have been posting on my instagram page. Head on over to @ashtangimami on tha GRAM and you will find some frightfully rudimentary drawings (man, I really need to take a Sketching Basics class sometime) of all the beautiful things I’ve seen and not bought. Like these awesome Comme des Garçons seeing heart sneakers on display at a boutique in Islington:

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Anyway, I am writing for a special reason today…if you check out the Purple Valley Yoga Center you tube channel, you will find two episodes featuring yours truly: an interview on yoga and pregnancy and a modified ‘pregnancy’ primary series practice. I actually have yet to watch them because something about watching oneself gives one the heebie-jeebies but I do hope you find them useful, helpful and informative.

Om ❤ you guys!

(featured image photographer: Jenni Gästgiver)

My first #InstaYoga Challenge

Yes, yes y’all. I took the plunge and participated in a 10-day Instagram yoga challenge. I know, I know, the yoga world is already full of people posting all kinds of yoga poses on social media, do we really need to see another?

I’ll leave you to decide on how you wish to answer that, but truth be told, it was fun to feel like part of a yoga community again! Okay, so it was virtual, but hey, as a full-time mama getting her yoga asana self- practice in at home whenever it works with baby’s nap time, things can feel a bit isolating from time to time. I long to be able to practice in a full shala, Mysore-style, riding the energy wave of several dozen Ashtangis next to me, but that might take awhile. So until then, this challenge was a stand-in, and it was totally fun to feel connected to a wider group of all the folks who participated in this yoga challenge.

As a child, standing on my hands felt like pure, giddy joy. As an adult, I find all sorts of thoughts racing through my head when it comes to inversions. These all stem from fear, self-doubt and self-limiting ideas like,” I am not   ___________ enough” or  ” I am too ____________.” My motivation behind posting these pictures was not primarily to show off and say, ” Oh, look what I can do.” (Having said that though, I wouldn’t necessarily discount a natural and healthy sense of accomplishment either). Anyway, my main reason for posting these pictures is that I wish to cultivate a bit of that wholesome joie de vivre, instill some of it in the midst of all this adult responsibility while challenging myself to engage with stuff which my inner critic forbids me to consider juuuust might be possible. While trying new things with my body (carefully and within reason, always) I hope to create this same sense of adventure and possibility in my mind, if only just for the fun of it. PLUS, I gotta tell ‘ya, nothing gets rid of mama burnout quicker and ‘free-er’ than placing all your weight into your hands and kicking your legs up in the air! Talk about a radical shift in perspective! 🙂

Just in case you aren’t on Instagram, you can check out some of the pictures on my facebook page. (While you’re there, you can go ahead and ‘like’ my page, if you haven’t done so already) 😉 Finally, thanks to my hubby hubs for being the photographer on this project.

And so, my challenge for all you yoga mamas out there: will you join me for the next yoga challenge? If so, follow me on Instagram (@ashtangimami) and I will tag you in the next challenge I join.

Stay blessed lovelies and celebrate life (upside down)! Om ❤

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A New Song

Oh blogworld, it feels like a lifetime since I have put words to my thoughts! My last post was over a month ago, which pretty much is a lifetime, in this fast-paced world of social media. What can I say? I find myself having to choose, in these long, busy stretches of unrelenting parenthood, where time and energy are parceled out and one has to carefully negotiate  for that elusive, precious bit of ‘me’ time, should I write or should I practice? And as a yogi first, I must keep fueling the fires of my spiritual practice first, and write about it later…

And so, this past month, I’ve been thinking hard and fast about priorities and how to make time for my top priorities. Having established what these top priorities are (after the topmost priority of all: my kid, it’s yoga and writing), I’ve been gradually coming to terms with scaling down on an enjoyable hobby of mine (reading) in order to make more time. This sounds great in theory, but I fear the time I make for writing is fast going to be replaced with another innocent, wholesome hobby (knitting). However, if knitting is the new yoga, as some might claim, then two birds, one stone and all that, hey? Not really sure I like that saying at all, not terribly shanti after all, but can’t think of an alternative at the moment. Forgive me.

Anyway, on the yoga yoga side of things, I do believe that last time, I promised I would share some of the core strengthening exercises I have been doing postpartum. Once I had healed from the labor and my pelvis felt strong and stable again, which was around the third month post delivery, I began doing a two week program called Strong Core, which I found on the Yoga Journal website. I particularly like the Sphinx Roll-Up found in Day One, which felt really beneficial in straightening out my drooping postural tendencies which come from front-heavy activities like breastfeeding and baby wearing. I also find linking the core work into the up/down dog transition, as explained in Day 2, to be useful and helpful. These are a few of the tools I have incorporated at the moment and I do them whenever I have a few spare minutes (five, ten) in the afternoons or after my morning practice. Just a quick disclaimer: this Strong Core program has not been designed specifically for postpartum purposes, so do proceed carefully. I waited until I felt ‘normal’ again before starting these exercises.

I had been planning to write a post exclusively about my practice postpartum, following the same trajectory with my post on Ashtanga yoga and pregnancy. However, I feel this interview I did with Tanya and Rebelle Society sums things up quite nicely. Besides, I feel I am still discovering just what this practice postpartum really is and so far it’s got more to do letting go of grand expectations, giving more of yourself than you thought possible, and not worrying too much about getting ‘back’ to how the asana practice was. It’s pretty hard to do sometimes, but there you have it. My spiritual path right now is motherhood and nowhere have I heard that either a spiritual path or motherhood come easily and effortlessly.

But, joy is there! When my little son responds and reacts with great giggles and peals of laughter. When I can give in to my inner child and let myself be present and playful. When my baby offers nothing but himself, his soft, warm, doughy skin, his puffy cheeks, dribbly mouth and toothless smile, abundant joy is there. Bless! And when I feel, with every cell in my body, stress and exhaustion and frustration, I turn to Abundant Mama, who offers mothers, women, a most powerful and precious gift: a reminder that we need to be kind to ourselves (and others).

One way I feel kindness towards myself is rediscovering knitting, a much-loved old hobby of mine. I felt so inspired by this company I discovered not long ago, Wool and the Gang, that I decided to become an ambassador for them and help spread their funky, woolly message. I’ve already made a necklace using t-shirt yarn made from the leftover materials from fashion factories. All the stuff that is left behind after a t-shirt has been made gets resourced into yarn. Not bad, huh?

 

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If you are in the Helsinki area on Tuesday, September 16th, you can join me at my second living room, Brooklyn Cafe, for an evening of cupcakes (baked at Brooklyn Bakery) and necklace making. Please note that you must order your knitting kit beforehand (Tuesday, September 9th is the last day to place your order). It’s going to be fun so if you are up for making merry, you know the time and place, good people!

So, dear readers, in the midst of the crazy, stressy goodness that is not just motherhood, but lifehood, once we have mourned the loss of our old selves, the loss of all the time we had ‘before’, instead of allowing the record player of our minds keep scratching over and over the same self-fulfilling groove, getting entrenched in the prophecy of frustration and disappointment of ‘not enough time’ and ‘too tired’, let’s offer ourselves one better. Let’s sing a new song entirely. Let’s use our babies, our families, our circumstances as the instruments.  Let’s compose melodies and arrange harmonies with them. Let’s create, sing and move to new songs in, thank you Stevie Wonder, the key of Life! On this note (ha ha), I’m off to play this very album and dance around the room with mon petit chéri!

Stay blessed and feel it all fully. Om <3!

Ashtanga Yoga and Pregnancy

At last! I am creating a bit of time to attend to something that has been on my mind for quite awhile now: writing a post about Ashtanga yoga practice during my first pregnancy. Now that I have completed all four trimesters (I refer to the first three months of baby Sesam’s life as the fourth trimester), I feel that I have experienced this stage of an ashtangini’s practice to be able to share my thoughts. As always, however, it is most beneficial to talk with your main yoga teacher, as they know you best and can offer advice and guidelines on an individual basis.

Exactly one year ago, I found out I was pregnant while on the annual summer yoga retreat here in Houtskår, Finland. Perhaps I have subconsciously waited to be here again, this time with my four-month old son, to write about this topic. Funny how time works sometimes…

Anyway, I had guessed that I might be pregnant as I had a few of the tell-tale symptoms, namely swollen and tender breasts and a missed period. After the pregnancy test came back positive, I decided to continue with the practice, but eased off considerably. My regular practice before pregnancy had been about three-quarters of the intermediate series, with drop-backs, so once I knew I was pregnant, I switched to a modified primary series practice. I omitted deep twists and the ‘lifting’ poses like bhujapidasana and supta kurmasana quite early on and focused on a much softer, slower and gentler practice, meaning holding poses for up to 10-15 breaths, stepping back instead of jumping, and changing directly to the left side in the seated asanas, rather than going through the catvari/upward/downward dog transition. I never experienced any throwing-up, but quite often, I did feel nauseous. Some light breathing sequences, done at the end of the finishing poses, helped alleviate these queasy feelings. My work load was quite busy at the time. I taught a led class followed by a beginner’s class six days a week and also had massage clients most afternoons, so I made sure not to get too exhausted from my practice. I remember feeling very tired during the first month, so I would take a long nap daily to keep my energy reserves up.

After the Houtskår retreat, when Sharath came to Helsinki for his workshop, I let him in on the reason why I wouldn’t be attending his workshop. He recommended that I shouldn’t practice for the next two months, but that some gentle stretching and breathing would be helpful. He further suggested starting my day with a walk, as the fresh air would be nourishing for both the baby and me. I still had feelings of nausea, so I walked in the mornings during the second and third month, which felt good. My hemoglobin levels were considered too low, so the doctor recommended I take iron supplements in order to raise my red-blood cell count. Due to this, I continued to take naps in the afternoon, as the feelings of fatigue were still quite noticeable.

At the start of my second trimester, I went to teach at Mysore Yoga Copenhagen for a month. The schedule consisted of teaching both morning and afternoon classes six days a week, plus a beginner’s weekend workshop and a guided full-primary class. Previously, the bulk of my yoga teaching experience had been with Petri as his assistant, so this subbing gig was the most work I would be doing solo as the main teacher. In order to keep my energy levels consistent, I pretty much put the bulk of my energy into teaching and made sure to rest between classes. Funnily enough, the steady routine of running a yoga shala daily had the same effect on my practice, which I did after the morning mysore group had finished. My practice felt very steady and I also felt quite strong; not in a fancy, floaty, jumpy-through kind of way, naturally, but tremendously grounded. My guess is that this sense of being grounded was a combination of the steady life routine, using Mula Bhandha almost exclusively since Uddiyana Bandha was otherwise engaged, and the overall increase in the kapha dosha needed to grow the foetus inside. I lived a very snug, cloistered life, going from home to shala to my neighborhood grocery store, occasionally going to the park, bicycling around, and meeting up with yoga friends for lectures, tea or dinner. I would say this was the ‘peak’ of my pregnancy practice, so to speak. My body was comfortably established in the state of being pregnant, but at the same time, my belly wasn’t too big. Many poses were still (marginally) accessible. Indeed, the aspect which I needed to rethink at this time was giving adjustments while pregnant. Some days I would feel some tenderness in my lower back, and on those days, I would back off and have the students do drop-backs and heavy adjustment poses like supta-kurmasana on their own. They graciously understood!

I held Baddha Konasana and Upavishta Konasana for longer periods of time and began adding a few hip-openers, like squats, at this stage. I also did some core-strengthening and stabilizing exercises to maintain the health of my lower back and pelvis. I replaced Urdhva-Dhanurasana with Ustrasana, did a supported shoulder stand with my feet up the wall and omitted most of the inversions of the finishing sequence. In lieu of a shorter asana practice, I chanted and meditated just before taking the final resting pose. Looking back, I must say sometimes you don’t know your own strength until it’s tested! Or I should say, rather, you don’t know your strength until you back off a bit and let things happen in their own time, without meddling too much in the greater scheme of things.

Over the next two months, back in Finland, the dark, cold time of November and December began to set in, and my motivation to continue with my modified Ashtanga yoga practice slackened. I began doing some prenatal yoga instead, either by attending classes or at home with videos I found online. I did a few rounds of pranayama (without Uddiyana bandha and kumbhaka, which is when you retain the breath) and continued with chanting and short meditation sessions. I also began researching and compiling materials to help rebuild my pelvic floor and abdominal muscles postpartum. In other words, core strength. (Hint: There is a ton of material on this topic out there!)

By the time I reached my third trimester, we were on our annual Thailand-India winter retreat tour. Practice in Thailand during the eighth month was a mixed experience. For one thing, I felt more comfortable practicing in the early morning when it was still cool and easier for my swollen feet. That meant waking up between 3 – 4 am to practice before assisting in the shala. The hardest part was my equilibrium getting wobblier the larger my belly got, so I focused my yoga practice on grounding and stabilizing myself. Sometimes my practice consisted of sun salutations and the standing postures, followed by a long, assisted shoulder stand with my feet up on the wall. Other days I managed to get to Navasana, skipping the jump-through between sides in each seated pose. By this time, due to the combination of heat and humidity, my feet were very puffy and warm, so while assisting, I would need to take a few breaks and put my feet up on the wall. One acupuncturist on the retreat showed me some acupressure points to help reduce the swelling. I also spent time dipping my feet in the pool, but the best thing that helped was getting those puppies elevated!

By the time we reached Goa in the first week of February, I was nearing my 36th week, which is the last week you are allowed to fly without an actual doctor on-hand (or a jolly good reason), should you deliver early. I spent about five days in Goa, at Purple Valley, and continued with the early morning sun salutations-standing sequence and wall-assisted shoulder stand before assisting in the shala. I flew back to Finland at the start of my 36th week, and by then, though I was a bit wary of being on my own in Finland for the last three weeks of pregnancy, I felt ready to get back home. Back in Finland, I must confess that the cold temperature was a welcome relief for my feet. I stopped with my practice once I reached Finland. I just felt like it. Instead, I walked, went swimming and water jogging about every other day for the last three weeks.

What was the main thing I learned about pregnancy and the Ashtanga yoga practice? There is a great deal of freedom in this practice to tailor to the ever-changing pregnant body. Sure, I could have pushed harder to try to maintain my asanas, but I didn’t feel like this was of huge benefit nor the point of my pregnancy. I could have maintained more strength in the physical poses, but it wouldn’t have served my constitution. I simply needed more rest and to let go of many poses. My body gave me certain signals and my job was simply to heed them. Other women might be able to do more poses while pregnant (rock on!), still others may need to do less (right on, sisters!). Every woman is different, every pregnancy is different. The main thing is to discover that which best serves you, your body and your baby. Pregnancy is a time of heightened sensitivity and awareness. Listen to your highly intuitive and intelligent system. Listen, with clarity of mind, with trust, with gratitude, with love. Listen.

A few photos from my pregnancy journey…

Getting some help with (pre-pregnancy test) drop-backs from Vijay (Houtskär, July 2013)

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 Receiving a (pre-pregnancy test) Utthita Hasta Padangustasana adjustment from Juha (Houtskär, July 2013)

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 First baby gift. It was waiting for me at the Mysore Yoga Copenhagen shala when I arrived one morning. Most touching! (Copenhagen, October 2013)

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 Despite the cold and dark, still finding time for a laugh at Rovaniemi airport. It was about 4 in the afternoon when the picture was taken! (Rovaniemi, November, 2013) 

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A few shots from our weekend workshop in Rovaniemi: work, play and more play at Santa’s Village! (Rovaniemi, November 2013)

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Ringing in the New Year, Thailand style! (Buddhist temple, Chiangkham, Phayao Province, Northern Thailand, January 2014)

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Visiting our friends, Marco and Amorn, at their home in the country       (Chiangkham, Phayao Province, Northern Thailand, January 2014)

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This #ashtangimami to be is chillin’…..! (Koh Mak, January 2014)

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Feeling about ready to drop in Goa…(Anjuna, Goa, February 2014)

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Visiting our dear friend Rolf and receiving a bit of his darshan (Goa, February 2014)

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 A week before Sesam’s due date, we got some professional pictures taken (Helsinki, February 2014)

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Early morning magic in Goa (February 2014)

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I would love to hear from my fellow #ashtanginis, #yoga moms and #ashtanga yoga teachers! How did you practice during your pregnancy? From a teacher’s perspective, how do you approach modifying the practice for a pregnant student? Male teachers, we would like to hear your input as well! Please share your experiences below!

Stay blessed mamas, mamas-to-be, fellow ashtangis, ashtanginis and ashtangimamis. May the light of Ashtanga yoga, as taught by Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois, continue to shine on and on. Om big <3!

*More to follow on how Ashtanga yoga helped during my labor and how I approached ‘getting back to the practice.’

*Professional photos courtesy of Jenni Gästgiver and Charlotte Eugenié Bjurehag.