It’s Friday!

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I am off work today because I had my 30-week (!) checkup this morning, and since I only work a half day on Fridays anyway I figured I’d burn up some more leave. I can’t take it with me after all …

I managed to make it through my busy week without too much trouble — it actually flew by, and my energy levels magically stayed up! I struggled with getting up in the morning but was able to eat the best I have in a long time, make it to yoga, finish (a little) knitting, and stay somewhat on top of the clutter. (I say this while overlooking my messy coffee table and sitting on a couch that’s coated in a fine layer of cat hair, so clearly we did not achieve Martha Stewart levels of success …) Now I am relaxing after four days of nonstop action with a cup of coffee, two kitties, and a bowl of oatmeal. Yum. De-cluttering awaits, though. Dobby?

Anyway, I read this article from Psychology Today about yoga the other day and thought it perfectly articulated both why I do so much yoga, and why I can be such an annoying born-again Christian about it. Here are some quotes:

Yoga can supposedly improve depressive symptoms and immune function, as well as decrease chronic pain, reduce stress, and lower blood pressure.  These claims have all been made by yogis over the years, and it sounds like a lot of new age foolishness. Surprisingly, however, everything in that list is supported by scientific research.

 

I came to realize that yoga works not because the poses are relaxing, but because they are stressful.  It is your attempts to remain calm during this stress that create yoga’s greatest neurobiological benefit.

 

… the stress response in the nervous system is triggered reflexively by discomfort and disorientation. The twisting of your spine, the lactic acid building up in your straining muscles, the uneasy feeling of being upside down, the inability to breathe, are all different forms of discomfort and disorientation, and tend to lead reflexively to anxious thinking and activation of the stress response in the entire nervous system. However, just because this response is automatic, does not mean it is necessary.  It is, in fact, just a habit of the brain.  One of the main purposes of yoga is to retrain this habit so that your brain stops automatically invoking the stress response.

To me this is further evidence that God is in all things, no matter how superfluous they may appear: given yoga’s profound effects on the body’s stress response and the brain’s reaction to stress and discomfort, I find it ever so fortuitous that I was forced to give up running* and instead focus so much more on yoga during my pregnancy. I will never be able to go back to my old life, before I was pregnant, before I lost my mom — and the last six months have been an exercise in learning how to breathe through this discomfort. And for me, yoga has been crucial to this process. This is why, when I hear someone is anxious or unhappy, I want to drag them to a yoga class and make them commit to a regular practice for at least a month — I’m confident they’ll experience the same benefits I have. After all, it’s science!

Some other things have made me really happy this week too, including the fact that (as I realized this week) I have now made it nearly eleven months since I was last sick. (Knocking on wood as we speak.) I feel really lucky that I’ve gotten so far in my pregnancy — especially a winter pregnancy — without a single cold! I’m really hoping I can make it to my due date without a single sore throat! Fingers crossed.

And along those lines, I am really enjoying the third trimester.

Physically I am getting more uncomfortable — rib pain as my muscles stretch, hip pain that wakes me up at night, having to pee every 20 minutes … but I really like being this far along. My due date is fast approaching and I am so excited about it. Just over two more months! Aaaaah!

The other thing that’s made my week is that this winter continues to be pleasantly mild. (This may also be contributing to my long streak of good health.) In fact, I did not even need to wear a coat out to the doctor’s office today, and as soon as I got home I managed to tie my running sneakers (no easy feat these days) and head out the door for a walk!

Looks like winter, feels like spring.

I could tell almost immediately that my body is not accustomed to much walking anymore, because I had a fair amount of round ligament pain and even a braxton hicks contraction while I was out. Still, I huffed and puffed along for 25 minutes, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. Now that my SI joint seems to be doing well, hopefully I’ll be able to walk a little more each week. As we learned in childbirth class last night, walking is one of the best ways to prepare your body for labor.

But seriously you guys: this weather. I am loving this winter.

Even last year’s hyacinths want to get outside!

*While out walking, I attempted to run a few steps just to see what it would feel like. It felt good to physically run, but my pelvis was not so thrilled! Heh.

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