Higher, Deeper, Further

Kelly & JamesWhat a whirlwind new motherhood has been! There is nothing anyone could have said to prepare me for the immensity of it. I think there are some human experiences that simply transcend words and parenting is one of them. I will spare you my stumbling attempts at description and instead share how the practice of motherhood has influenced my own yoga sadhana. As I prepare to head back into offering regular group classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in September, I would like to let you know how the past six months will be brought to bear on what and how I teach.

Just to preface, many of you know pregnancy really had very little impact on my practice, apart from not being able to lie down on my belly, not doing closed twists and taking everything a little more gently. I felt strong, fit and healthy right to the end, doing a handstand just hours before my waters broke.

Pregnant handstandMotherhood, on the other hand, has radically transformed my practice, forcing me right back to the very, very basic and ultimately, most powerful of practices. Because my boy was in the breech position, posterior facing and “huge” (according to the medical calculations, but actually in the end, not so big really), I ended up having a caesarean section. This is major abdominal surgery that is rather a lot to recover from as it turns out. Particularly while in the clutches of chronic sleep deprivation, the utter overwhelm of emotion and under the apprenticeship of a rather demanding new little boss.When I got back into my regular practice after standing down for a couple of weeks – though foolishly, arrogantly, not as many as I was told to stand down – everything felt good, if a little unfamiliar. As the weeks went by it became clear that my awareness had been dulled by a number of things as mentioned above and I was taking certain things for granted that were actually not the case anymore.

For example, I could easily lift up into crow pose at six weeks post-natal. Impressive? Not really. As it turns out, I was using all the wrong muscles to make this happen. Remember, my abdominal wall had been severed so my belly was still numb. I couldn’t tell that the correct abdominal muscles were not in fact doing the work, rather my poor, overtaxed psoas (hip flexor muscle) was chipping in far too much.

Lots of other little compensations were happening as well which culminated in an excruciating back injury and fleeting paralysis. Like never before, I got to experience the raw vulnerability and all-encompassing nature that extreme physical pain has on your being. Along with my body, my heart and my mind went into spasm and engulfing darkness. There is no separation between body and mind, this much I know for absolute certain now.

Joy EmbodiedThis truly humbling experience has yielded a vastness of riches, however, even though I am still in the midst of it. I have had to go right back to using yoga basics and simple therapy techniques just to keep myself moving. There have been entire practices that would look like nothing from the outside but have been the difference between being able to physically, mentally and emotionally make it through the day and utter collapse, melt down and annihilation.

Our bodies are so well made, so intelligent and ultimately, so accommodating. I asked my body to do something it had no business doing and it did it. Not because it was a good idea or beneficial for me in any way whatsoever but simply because I asked.

This necessity of going deeper with the basics has given me a new appreciation for how very important it is to ensure we’re doing exactly what we think we’re doing when we go for the fancy poses or flow through beautiful choreography. Before we can run, it’s very important to crawl and limp and walk. We do our bodies and our minds and hearts a great disservice by skipping the steps.

Over the past months, I’ve covered a couple of classes, taught some special-interest workshops and co-created amazing private sessions with some beautiful people. As I reflect on those experiences and prepare to return to regular classes in September, I am struck by the fact that more than ever, my interest is in the deeply subtle and tremendously powerful, rather than the noisy and flashy.

I want to share with you some tiny secrets that will open up whole new vistas of possibility, not only in your physical practice but also your mental and emotional journey. How does spreading your little baby toe impact your ability to do a basic standing pose, a fancy arm balance AND feel integrated and calm enough to express your power in the world? How does finding the innate coiling, spiralic patterning of your body and mind help you use places of habitual contraction as sources of potent openings? How does doing less equate to a whole lot more vibrancy, power and energy, with little wasted energy, frustration or angst?

The finer details of alignment have always been my passion. The extrapolation of the physical into our daily lived experience as mental, emotional beings has always been a driving factor in my teaching. The joy of flow and movement and the feeling of making soulful music through the body has always been the sparkle of my offerings.

None of that will have changed but I will be inviting you to a higher quality of attention, a deeper investigation of your findings and ultimately, a further evolution of your practice and yourself. I am looking forward to reconnecting and reimmersing in our little community of yogis. Please come along to explore with me!