The Right Practice for Right Now
(It’s not what I thought it would be)
By Kiki Lovelace
After I gave birth to my first child, I did all the “right” things. I rested. I asked my friends and family for their help in making meals and sweeping the kitchen. I let go of my need to control my business— and rested into the support of my managers and employees and teachers. And I modified my yoga and Pilates practice to care for my weak and tired postpartum body.
But the truth is, internally, I gave myself such a hard time about it. Every day, I felt like I should have been doing more for my business. I asked myself, “Why can’t you keep your house together? What is wrong with you?.” I felt like there was something I should have been doing that would help me feel my low abs, which were numb for the better part of a year postpartum. Or that I should have been stronger than I was — why couldn’t I hold a handstand in the middle of the room like so many of my yoga teacher colleagues?
In retrospect it seems rather absurd that I would give myself a hard time about taking a nap with my infant. Seriously, what else does one do after a 4-hour night’s sleep? But at the time, my “not-enough” stories were up — way up — and there was no stifling them, despite my husband’s and mom’s and midwife’s best efforts.
This time around, I was determined not to let my old stories grab ahold of me. I knew that my spiritual practice would change the instant I gave birth, at least for a time. I knew that my spiritual practice WAS the birth, and everything that came after it.
So I breathe and say a quick prayer in the morning, and consider that an excellent meditation practice. I choose to be amazed by ALL the things I’m doing to run Innerstellar and support my family, in spite of the fact that I’m taking care of two young children most hours of the day (and night). I clean my kitchen when I can, and I leave it alone when the girls need me. To hell with those dishes!
But to me, the breakthrough I’m most proud of is my postpartum Pilates and yoga practice. Just like last time, it’s very rare when I can do a “full practice.” Most days, my practice is five poses, lasting anywhere from five to twenty minutes. But damn, do I luxuriate in those five poses. I pick moves that feel good for my tight chest and neck, and my stiff legs and feet. Sometimes, I’m too tired to stand up, so I I do lots of seated poses – LOTS. And I spend loads of time just lying on the floor and breathing (thank you to my brilliant postpartum Pilates Instructor, Rebecca Vasile, for giving me new breathing exercises to fascinate on and wake up my pelvic floor and lower and upper abs — they are my godsend right now!). I think of myself as a Mama Lion, basking in the sun, breathing with my soft belly and chest, and welcoming my little ones into my big arms when they come in for a cuddle. Yes, usually my practice dissolves into a cuddle puddle which includes my dog and my two daughters. The cuddle is my Savasana.
Every so often, I still feel those voices inside creep up to tell me I should have lost more weight by now, or I should be spending more time on this project or that at work, or I should get up and do a Standing Pose Series. But when that happens, I soften inside. I say to myself “Shhh, shhh, shhh, love, we’re not doing that right now.” And I remind myself that it really is a noble thing, and a worthwhile thing, to honor the right practice for me for right now. My dishes and my handstands can wait.