Becoming a mother does funny things to a woman. Of course, it is fulfilling, amazing, life changing just like the books and pretty much the whole world says it is. But it’s also life changing in ways that perhaps you’d not expected.
For me, only once the newborn fug had lifted, it properly clicked that getting back to “normal” just wasn’t on the cards. I had been prepared for my body changing but I wasn’t expecting my mind to change too.
As a 30-something woman with a career and having lived a pretty self-centred life to date, I struggled to find the place where I was comfortable with my new (partly self-imposed) labels – part-time working mum, full-time super-mummy, yogini-in-training, domestic-goddess-sexbomb-wife.
And alongside that, under the overriding desire to sleep, was the desperate need to feel like “me” again.
That was where yoga came in and my practice – pranayamas (breathing exercises), asanas (postures) and meditation – was part of the old me that didn’t need to change to be part of the new “mummy” me.
There is the basic physiological fact that moving your body makes you feel better, all those endorphins do great things for your sense of wellbeing, and the gentle movements of hatha yoga are perfect for a post-natal body.
Meditation can provide a space to just be, letting thoughts drop from your mind…or failing that, 20 minutes of lying on your mat, enjoying the fact that you’re just lying on your mat and not required to feed/ change/ generally administer to a probably crying infant is pretty good for you too.
I practiced yoga religiously pre-pregnancy and throughout my pregnancy – hatha and specific ante-natal stuff too – and once I was back on my yoga mat post-birth, I felt great. I could move in ways that my bump had ruled out for six months; I could lie flat on my back in savasana meditation without worrying that my bump would squash my internal organs; and some of the wobbly bits started to be slightly less wobbly.
But most importantly, on my mat, I am me and off it, I am a better, more relaxed me too. And the best bit – seeing my boy copy my movements; he does an awesome downward dog.
So, what’s the moral of this story…get thee to thy mat? No, although it would be a great start. I’m saying move, relax with the new you, love your baby and enjoy this amazing, life changing moment in time.
NB: Cautions apply for pregnant women and for new mums, especially for those who haven’t practiced yoga before pregnancy, but a sensible approach to physical activity is most definitely the new mum’s friend. For more information during pregnancy and post-natally, speak to an accredited practitioner.
Madeleine is mum to toddler Alexander; yoga teacher in training; and PR consultant.