The Yoga of Quitting (or Future Suffering is To Be Avoided – Sutra 2.16)

Two years ago I was holding it down as a mother to a 5 year old, a yoga studio manager and yoga teacher, a full time safety professional, a part time housekeeper, a sometimes Pintrest mom and I started losing my hair. It fell out in clumps. I was doing way too much and my body was clearly communicating the flashing red sign of STRESS. So I quit doing it all. I QUIT.

c6a2cad04bd5924188ad918b5a512219I didn’t quit all at once, because I still had the wrong headed modus operendi of achieving. I quit small things first – like I quit having fun or I quit socializing or I quit enjoying life. But as my hair kept falling out, and I looked at a big clump of it one day, I decided to quit trying to be all the things. Because WHY? I was bringing suffering into my own life, caused by my own wrong efforts, and exacerbated by a need to always be more.

It was more than hair loss – it was also manifesting as infertility.

After years of struggling to achieve conception and dealing with what I thought was infertility – it turns out I was dealing with stress. Stress was leading to hormone imbalances and medical issues and what I discovered was I wasn’t allowing the joy of living to filter into my body – I was actually blocking life. I was doing that to myself; I’m sure I’m not the only one.

If you read this because you Googled “fertility, yoga, stress, pregnancy” or something similar – what are you so busy doing that you could quit? What’s blocking your life force?

I’m 36 weeks pregnant, about to birth a baby in a month and the busy-life is here calling me again. I’m not answering it. I’m cocooning. My meditative focus is simply on my family. What does this have to do with yoga?

I still look to the Yoga Sutras for those answers:

  • Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind – 1.2
  • When that is accomplished, the yogi abides in their own true nature – 1.3
  • The changing states of our mind can be harmful to our focus – 1.5
  • Yoga practice is the effort to be fixed in concentrating the mind – 1.13

I could go on and on with the sutras supporting us to assume a role in life with full force and focus. I can rewrite these sutras to suit my circumstances and goals. Personally, today, I want to still the mental fluctuations and focus them onto birthing and raising this new baby. Right now, my true nature is mother and life vessel. If I take on too much, I might harm my primary focus, which should be a healthy baby. The effort to stay focused on this process is challenging.

Yoga is never the poses you are doing, it’s not a physical exercise, it’s a mental way of living. The Yoga Sutras can teach us about motherhood or painting or dancing or postures or meditation or anything we wish to do well. And yes, we can indeed do more than one thing well,  but we can’t do ALL the things well, ALL of the time, ALL at once. Something will always break down.

If you discover that you begin to do some of your tasks poorly or that your health begins to suffer, you cannot really be truthful to yourself that you are living your life well concentrated – you are then bringing harm to yourself and ignoring what is one of my favorite yoga sutras:

  • 11849790_1642484662630447_540587482_nFuture suffering is to be avoided – 2.16

Bottom line, don’t be afraid to quit something that isn’t serving your highest good. Listen to that nagging voice in your head that is asking you why you struggle – maybe that something doesn’t matter as much as you think. Maybe you can let it go and let yourself be ok without it.

Takeaway: Settle in and take stock of what’s not serving you in life. Make a commitment to quit ONE THING – it can be small, but declutter your life of unnecessary tasks, people, things, or feelings.

Rediscover Joy.

To My Readers and Students: Thank you so much for sticking with me in my absence. Thank you for finding ways to practice and keeping connected even while I’m on a break. I never forget you, I never quit you, and you always inspire me, even when we aren’t face-to-face. 

The Miscarried Mind

Live more. Complain less.

These were the thoughtless words designed to uplift that scrolled through my Facebook news feed on the day I miscarried my embryo, my baby, my tiny soul spark.

Do people ever think of the way an innocuous meme might catch someone having a really bad day off guard?

Really, these words were sort of perfect to capture how I am feeling about the fact that I just flushed my embryo down toilet, a tiny spark of life that grew for too few days. This ‘live more, complain less,’ is how we treat the mothers of the miscarried. Better luck next time.

Today I had my first miscarriage. It’s not a first that I’m proud of, but it’s still a milestone. It’s the first time that I watched my mind and my emotions spring sky high, all the way up to heaven’s happiness, and then subsequently watched them sink low, down into muck and mire and my backyard septic tank.

Expecting Me

Me on the day I knew I was expecting to expect.

Don’t get too excited, people say, don’t get excited until week 12. The risk goes down and you have a better shot at a full term baby. Tell me a mother who hasn’t gotten her heart excited after months and years of trying to conceive. The elation that comes when you finally see the plus sign isn’t something you need to suppress.

 

Don’t be too sad, people say, many pregnancies end in miscarriage, it’s common, it wasn’t a baby yet. Tell me a mother who won’t be devastated by watching the little soul potentiality exit the womb in a sea of red. The sadness you feel as you physically become aware that the life has left your body isn’t something you need to pretend doesn’t exist.

Why am I sharing this?

I’m sharing it because it’s real. It’s happening to me, today. I’m sharing it because I’m a yoga teacher, a person who teaches others how to move through and feel their experiences without becoming too attached. For me, to move through, I have to feel it – feel it all and part of me feeling is sharing it too. I’m sharing because there are millions of women who can’t, who won’t, who were told that they shouldn’t care too much or that things will be better next time. I’m sharing because it is unhealthy to hide and disconnect from the experience. I’m sharing because the soul that tried to be born in my body deserves a little bit of recognition and mourning.

So, to that tiny raspberry cluster of cells, I want you to know that I felt you. I want you to know that someone in my yoga class this weekend told me that I was glowing and that was YOU glowing. I want you to know that I exactly know the moment you were conceived and I know the exact due date of March 25 of 2017. You were made of pure love and joy and your parents were so excited at the thought of your spark of life. I celebrated fully, I became really excited and I’d do all of that again, even if I knew I would lose you. You made me feel so happy and wonderful and your loss makes me feel so devastated and empty – but I’d do all the same things again, I’d have all these experiences again, because I’m learning and I’m growing from them. I’m alive – fully alive and feeling my life, even the less than perfect parts of it all.

Maybe the purpose of your short life was to open me up raw, to share this with others who can’t find their own voice. Maybe there is a blessing in that for both me and them.

RAinbow

A Rainbow in My Backyard.

 

I hear that a miscarriage is called a Rainbow baby. I like thinking about that, the symbol of the rainbow – of God’s promise that after 40 days and 40 nights of flood and rain and storms, that things would be OK again. I understand that now, I will be OK again, and I believe that there is a promise out there that someday, in someway, your spirit will find a home again too and that we might meet in this lifetime or the next. No matter how short your life, your mother loved you.

Until that time, I am going to feel your loss and breathe into it. I’m going to sit on my yoga mat and allow myself to be less than ok – allow myself to practice in the pain and sadness because there is no joy and light without sorrow and shadows.

So no, you don’t have to live more and complain less. You do what you need to do and if you need a hand to hold or a hug, I’ll see you and won’t say anything more because there aren’t enough words.

just-because

Something to Remember.

 

Namaste.

The light and love within me, sees and reflects that light and love inside you. Until we meet again, may we all know peace.

Happy Birthday Baby Belly.

5 Years Ago my body was injured – slashed through with a surgical knife.  Abdominal walls severed in two by a bulging baby boy in a torso too short to properly accommodate him.  These battle scars the belly carries are from war zones called C-Section and Diastisis Recti.  I have the unfortunate appearance of someone still pregnant (which sometimes people ask!) and as a yoga teacher, it is highly unlikely that I will ever be mistaken for having “nice abs.” And to have people judge me for it still hurts.  diastasis-recti

It’s all well-meaning what people say after such a battle of pregnancy and labor and hospital stays.  Be thankful – that’s proof you had a baby.  Well thanks – my son is actually proof that I had a baby.  I can be thankful for him without loving scars and muscle weakness.

They placate a new mother with platitudes like, “thank goodness for modern medicine,” and “your child’s smile is all you need.”  But they don’t know – they don’t live in this body, they don’t have  to look at themselves naked with these sobering reminders of what, quite frankly, is a traumatic experience, albeit one with a beautiful ending.  They don’t understand the toll it takes on a wife and a marriage when you don’t love your body.  Even when your husband says you are beautiful.

I didn’t even accept that I had a certain trauma.  I covered and hid my feelings because, really, I am grateful and I wasn’t one of the moms forced to a C-Section.  I wasn’t put on the clock.   After 54 hours of trying natural labor (24 hours), of trying an epidural and medications, sifting, showers, puking, crying, I decided to agree and tell the doctor I’d had enough. Then in a mere 20 minutes, there he was.  The light of my world, the soul of my soul, my whole new purpose for even being alive.

I can even remember the very exact moment before  we went to surgery.  I asked my wonderful midwife, who I will love until my dying day and beyond, what would have happened to us in the days of old (seriously, laboring mothers say weird things!) and she very honestly told me that I would have died.  Logically, I totally know that I did every single thing possible to have that natural experience.  But somehow I had failed and here is this damn belly with a C-Section Shelf staring at me in the mirror reminding me that I couldn’t open enough to allow my son to live.  What on earth is wrong with me? I mean, I did YOGA, I did BREATHING, I did ORGANIC, I had a DOULA!

Like most things in my life, I pushed it away.  I focused on this happiness of new life, I made every effort to positive spin my C-Section story, how I had the freedom of choice and didn’t have that trauma that other moms have, THEY needed the group support, THEY deserved the kind words, I didn’t even deserve to be comforted because after all – it wasn’t that bad, other people have it worse.  I live in the now, not the past…..right?

 

But I closed down completely on a physical level.  That emotion lived in my very hormones, my body knew there was a trauma.  My desire knew there was a trauma.  My fertility knew there was a trauma.  My core strength knew and you can’t deny a weakness in an asana.  No epic arm balance or handstand selfies for me (yet!).

 

And still I clung to the denial of a happy emotion of acceptance and non-attachment.  After all, I’m a yogi.  I’m supposed to practice letting go, letting be, and becoming free.  But what I’m not supposed to do is LIE.  Satya, the second of the Yamas, the ethical guidelines.  That includes lying to yourself and denial is a bit of a self-lie.

So here it is, 5 years post partum.  I just celebrated the 5 glorious years of my own motherhood and my son’s beautiful life. Time to forgive my body.  I’ve been working up to this for a while and this post, is a catharsis, I can’t possibly be the only woman with a story like this and just maybe this reaches a woman with this issue and she knows that she is not alone.

So here it is.

Body, I’m sorry I blamed you for not being enough.

Body, I’m sorry that I didn’t recognize that you were hurting.

Body, I’m sorry that I ignored your messages and didn’t listen to your pain.

Body, I’m sorry that I made you carry this burden of emotion for so long.

Body, I forgive you for not opening up.

Body, Thank you for carrying my son.

Body, Thank you for birthing this new understanding 5 years later.

Body, Do you think maybe you can forgive me too and we can try again?

10950496_1537818023148651_494964604_n

I have my yoga practice to thank for this realization.  Something happens when you sink into your practice, all that time on the mat evolves into something.  It’s a spark of awareness, you begin to reveal your truth.  Yogis say it’s like shining up a cloudy glass so that you remove the residue of experience from the window of your soul.  After all, I’m a yogi. I’m supposed to practice letting go, letting be, and becoming free – but you don’t have to practice that at all, as you practice on the mat with asana and pranayams, this becomes a spontaneous arising of a feeling of liberation or Moksha.

Resources for Diastisis Recti

Checking for Diastisis Recti:

Yoga for Diastisis Recti:

**I have done this video, I like this teacher, I think she is accessible to every mom.  I only wish I had found this earlier.  No one told me I had a diastisis recti until about 3 years out – so I did further damage, but I have hope and I’ve been planking and working achieving results.**

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