Returning the Mat

by: Jessica Lynne Trese
Samasthiti Feet
I hadn’t practiced in 18 weeks and the idea of stepping back on my mat was a little overwhelming. I started practicing Ashtanga Yoga in 2007 and since then, I’ve never taken this much time away from my practice.

There are so many reasons we can get pulled away from our mat: injury, pregnancy, depression, illness and sometimes laziness. For me, it happens to be a joyous reason, but the idea of trying to ‘rebuild’ my practice after four and a half months off still brought up all of my old patterns of perfectionism and avoidance (if I can’t get it ‘perfect’ I have a history of just avoiding it).

Baby TreseIt is recommended that women rest from their Ashtanga practice during the first trimester of pregnancy. This is a very delicate time in the gestational process and most women are guided to let their bodies lead the process without adding a strong practice to the mix. For me, this hiatus began with standard first trimester rest, and then some complications led me from voluntary rest to limited activity as ordered by my Doctor. We also had a few more bumps in the road which kept me away from my mat for another month.

And then, it was time, little bundle was safe and healthy, and I was cleared to resume normal pregnant activity.

The first week back was tougher than I could have ever imagined. I tried, but all I seemed to be able to pull out of myself were sun salutations. And it wasn’t easy, most days I wanted to just quit practicing. My mind was distracted and disconnected, my body was stiff and resistant and my heart was unrestful as I moved through these familiar motions.

But after the first week of struggling, I finally started to feel excitement as I stepped on my mat each day, and with it along came some additional physical strength and stamina to practice more than only sun salutations. I’m in the process of reconnecting to my practice, and the moments of interconnectedness are beginning to grow again, slowly I’m seeing more frequent peacefulness in my practice.

19weeks Baby BumpI know I will never ‘get back to where I was,’ because that moment has passed and this moment is an entirely new experience. And I also know I will once again find ease and grace on my mat, a brand new and also familiar experience in each fresh moment, and in each familiar pose. I will once again grab my heels in kapotasana, and find lightness as I drop back, it will come.

But it won’t come as a RE-creation of what was. It will come as a simultaneously familiar and entirely brand new experience as I move through my practice each day.

General guidelines for practicing Ashtanga Yoga during Pregnancy

* About Jessica

* Ashtanga Eco Retreat – September 1-7, 2016

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