Postnatal Yoga: Surrendering to Transformation
The morning after returning home from the hospital, I rested on my yoga mat marveling at the transformation that had occurred. After giving birth, I felt as though I had flown off to the moon and landed in a stranger’s body. I had spent nine months growing accustomed to the little body kicking inside of mine. Then suddenly, it was a separate living, breathing, crying, and cooing being. The physical changes I had undergone to create life were only just beginning to unravel as I lay in the Relaxation Pose (Savasana) that was my postnatal yoga practice that morning.
Even without moving, I could feel that my body was remarkably open as if I had spent hours in an unsupported Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana). Whether the sensation was from the continued postnatal release of relaxin or from nearly 29 hours of labor, I did not know, but I was terrified to move a muscle in this new skin.
“Maybe it’s silly even to be lying on my yoga mat,” I cautioned myself, knowing that I wouldn’t be cleared to exercise until six weeks from now. And yet, I also knew from practicing during my pregnancy that yoga is much more than physical activity. Rather, it’s a practice for my mind, body, and spirit to feel whole and at home with myself.
Surrendering to Stillness in Yoga
So, before daring to wiggle my toes or reach my arms overhead, I let myself awaken to the stillness, warmed by the sun streaming through the window onto my new, foreign body. At that moment, I could not believe that this was the same sun that had kissed my skin in the same shape I had been in so many times before. I wondered: how could the sunlight, the carpet, my yoga mat, the paintings on the wall, and all the other mundane things in this room be so constant when the universe had so radically shifted for me in the last few days? More importantly, how had I ever taken them for granted before?”
Surrendering to Connection
Closing my eyes to the morning’s early rays, I savored the sweet sound of my baby sleeping peacefully next to my partner in the adjacent room. With my gaze now inward, I noticed the feeling of openness was not merely physical, but also emotional. Perhaps now in this postnatal period more than ever, I was a blank slate, open to the impending rollercoaster of motherhood and to the bond that was quickly forming between my baby and me.
Although my newborn was still as much of a stranger to me as my new body, I could surrender to loving her in ways that were still foreign to me. Maybe it would take me months to get used to the sensation of being in this postnatal skin. But I was also open to the possibility of loving this new body I was inhabiting—one that was continuing to evolve with the process of growing, birthing, and nourishing new life.
Surrendering Expectations of Perfection
“Why does my baby always break free from her swaddle? Am I doing any of this parenting thing right? Will my body ever feel like me again? Will I even get a chance to shower today?” The thoughts spun around in my head until finally, they settled into transient silence. Suddenly, I could let go of any expectations for the wild ride that inevitably lay ahead. In the utter stillness that was my yoga that morning, my postnatal practice was an act of ishvara pranidhana, or surrender to something bigger than myself—all 6 pounds and 4 ounces of her.
Breaking the stillness that had impermanently permeated the house, I allowed my lips to curl upward into a smile, acknowledging the first morning of what would surely be an eventful chapter in my life. Settled and certain of myself now, I could physically feel that no matter how unpredictable the transformation to motherhood may turn out to be, if I could keep returning to this moment, everything would be okay.