Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I'm a Yogi. How the Hell Did THAT Happen?

On Saturday, I took my son to Baby and Me Yoga. Just writing that sentence is weird to me. Let me give you some context...

About eight years ago, I was going through a particularly rough time and had chronic headaches and stomach problems. One of my very sweet coworkers was always offering me ginger tea or herbal remedies. I laughingly declined her "dirt tea," popped my Advil, and kept going. I was a modern medicine kind of girl. I was also almost 100 pounds overweight, smoked a pack a day, drank profusely on the weekends, and was somehow confused about how I was always so tired.

Right after I turned 30, I had a health scare that made me start to realize that I needed to take better care of my body. I continued to eschew the "hippie dippie" stuff, but quit smoking, scaled back on the drinking, started moving more and watching what I ate.

When I got pregnant with my son, while still a bit overweight, I was a much healthier person. Before and throughout my pregnancy, I was on my treadmill 4 times a week, made sure that what I ate met my nutritional needs, and took my vitamins. I gained very little weight, but still developed tons of aches and pains. I was nervous about taking meds, and so asked my doctor for advice. The advice was yoga. I sighed. I had done yoga before and liked the stretching but hated all of the new agey stuff that the classes had included. I wanted to work out, not sit on a mat and OHM for an hour!

I resisted for weeks until finally the pain in my hips prevented me from sleeping. When I got to my first prenatal class, one of the first things I realized was that not all yoga classes are the same. My instructor worked us and gave us some great tips for controlling our breath that she felt would help during labor. We didn't OHM once. I left dripping sweat but actually feeling energized.

The six weeks of pregnancy where I went to prenatal yoga (the class was ultimately cancelled due to lack of attendance) were the most comfortable I had. I ached less, slept more, and generally felt calmer.

Flash forward to labor. Despite having an epidural, I eventually developed horrible sciatic pain that shot down my leg with every contraction, and modern medicine could do nothing for me. By the time this popped up, I was already 18 hours in and exhausted. After one hour (that felt like 4) of trying to move to alleviate the pain, I finally resorted to hysterical sobbing.

Once the crying ended, my resolve kicked in and I decided that I had to work through this. I thought back on the breathing techniques from yoga and suddenly, the whole room was calmer. My husband would watch the monitor and let me know when a contraction was building. I would breathe deep and count, my eyes closed and a hippie dippie lavender-oil-soaked cloth over my face. When next I opened my eyes, thinking we had made it through another twenty minutes, I actually found that nearly two hours had passed and it was finally time to push.

Holy crap! Yoga had saved my butt during labor. This modern medicine girl real relief out of scented oils and breathing techniques.

Last weekend was my first trip back to yoga since my son was born, and I was shocked how much I missed it. As I settled into the Goddess Pose, glancing down as my happy baby did his Happy Baby, it hit me. I am a frigging yogi now, and getting my son started down that path early in his life.

So if you, like me, was ever tempted to roll your eyes at the thought of yoga, don't think that being a modern medicine girl means you won't benefit from it. Prenatal yoga was the best thing I did, and I am now a yogi for life. Dammit.

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