So as I said the other day, I’m having to try new ways to keep my body moving now that I can’t keep up with my yoga classes. Aside from pedaling away on the recumbent bike with a magazine and my ipod, the other thing I am trying to do is develop my own yoga practice, away from following a prenatal video or audio class.

What am I going to do when I’m not pregnant anymore and need an illustration for my yoga posts?

My natural inclination (as a “conceptual thinker” as they call me at work) is to leap right in without investing time in the necessary research first, and try to figure things out as I go. (This is, I think, a large part of why I’m such an abysmal gardener.) So my first temptation was to just get on my mat and do a random, haphazard series of all my favorite poses.

I don’t think that would necessarily be wrong, but as I develop a home yoga practice, I want to be sure I am setting myself up for success and actually deepening my skills as best I can without an instructor by my side. So the first place I went to look was Yoga Journal. I found an article there that specifically addressed developing a home practice and even answered some questions I hadn’t really thought to ask.

Even if you’ve established a strong desire and commitment to practice regularly, knowing which poses to do right now, for today’s session, is one of the most concrete challenges of a home practice.

I know, right? This is a place I’d like to get to, where I can ask myself what I need out of that day’s practice and also have some idea of the answer.

The article goes on to explain that another important part of creating a home practice is developing “an understanding of the principles behind sequencing yoga poses.” This is why I’ve been researching yoga so much; I want to know not only what I am doing but why. I know that the instructors who teach the classes I’ve taken have planned out that day’s flow in a specific way for a reason, and in order to¬†develop a home practice that can achieve the same results, I need to know what those reasons are. (I have a feeling this curiosity will serve me well in future gardening endeavors as well.)

The articles I’m reading (any yogis out there have book recommendations?) have good suggestions as to how to cultivate this knowledge — starting with more body awareness, first of all. This is where it gets tricky for me, though, because … well, because of this:

I feel like the baby’s going to fall out whenever I stand up. Heh. A lot of poses are becoming uncomfortable or inaccessible to me at this point, so I’m trying to work with what I have.

So while a lot of my yoga education right now has to be theoretical, I can at least ask myself that first question — what kind of practice do I need today? — and at this point, I know that the answer more often than not is going to involve the word restorative.

Anyway, I’ve made a few attempts at developing my own flow, and I figure at this point, while my practice needs to be gentle and fairly easy, it’s not a big challenge to identify which poses will alleviate my various pregnancy aches and pains while at the same time strengthening my body in preparation for that epidural labor. I’ve started out with a few rounds of sun salutations (at the very least, this helps me to memorize this sequence), followed by some standing poses to strengthen my legs, balancing poses, hip openers (like my beloved pigeon) and then some poses I know feel really good on my pregnant body — like half moon, which I usually do with a block and against the wall. At the same time, I’m trying to focus a lot on my breath and remember the words of my prenatal instructor (with such wisdom as your eyebrows will not help you in labor as a reminder to relax my face and jaw).

Focusing a lot on knowing what kind of practice I need each day, followed then by how to meet that need, is a good place for me to be right now — not just as I cope with these last few weeks of pregnancy, but also in the coming months as I adjust to a still-changing body. I think as a new mother, this will help me to honor and respect the limits and potential that my body has each day, because I know I will be tempted to want to jump right back in to where I was, fitness-wise, before I was pregnant, and it’ll be a challenge for me to continually adjust my expectations.

I’m still attending my prenatal class (and got permission from my gym to extend my membership until mid-April if I need to, even though my job ends this week — yay!) and following a prenatal audio class about once a week, so my initial goal right now is to do an independent practice about once a week. Wish me luck! I’m excited about this.

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