Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Years ago, after a devestating breakup, I dragged my weepy ass to a therapist and began the uphill climb out of a mind-numbing depression. Among other things the therapist did to help me untangle the mess that had become my life, she gave me the assignment of joining a yoga class. I was so utterly disconnected from myself and wrapped in a blanket of self-loathing (if he didn't love me, how could I possibly be of any worth??), she thought enrolling in yoga would, at the very least, force me to concentrate for one hour on something other than the emptiness that consumed me the other 23 hours of the day.

I half-heartedly attended a class at my gym. I spent much of the class just hoping I could get into the postures and not fart while I was in them. I definitely rolled my eyes at a lot of the soothing "oommms" and whatnot during the class. I was distracted by the sound of the racquet ball cout adjacent to our "studio". I certainly didn't focus on my breathing.

Until the end. The last pose, Savasana, the "corpse pose", isn't really a pose at all; it is "simply" lying still on your mat and allowing all your stress to drain away through your breathing. The instructor takes you on a tour of your body, from toes to head, telling you to release the stress from each part of your being. Something inside me broke open in those few minutes of listening to myself breathe. I found myself sobbing as silently as possible as, for the first time in months, maybe even years, I felt, for a moment, a fleeting sense of ME, of who I was. The instructor read a short piece at the front of the room about self-acceptance and I felt the cool tears slide down the sides of my face and into my ears.

I went to yoga two times a week for the next four years. I broke free of the depression, eventually I started to feel whole again and got on with my life.

Today I took my son to a Mommy & Me yoga class for the first time. I had signed up for the instructor's prenatal yoga class and irony of all ironies, was put on bedrest the very day I was to attend the first class. So much for that. But I always dreamed of being the cool, hip, yoga mat-toting mother who zens-out with her peaceful, placid infant.
Of course, some of you may know that my son is anything but peaceful and placid. I may have mentioned here in one of any numer of posts and some of you have witnessed the famous melt-downs in person. Others still don't believe in the demon-child that resides in my son and comes out when he's not being held to his satisfaction or when he is otherwise miffed at the unfairness of the life of a baby ( I mean, all that breast-feeding and napping--what a raw deal). Anyway, suffice it to say that I spent much of the day leading up to the class in fear that my child would be the only child screaming and wailing in a mad attempt to ruin everyone's zen-buzz.
But something amazing happened. My drop-of-a-hat freaker-outter turned into uber-mellow buddha baby. The class was hardly yoga as those unfettered by little humans know it. There was crying, baby farts and stopping mid-sun salutation to drop onto the floor, whip out the boob and nurse. But Ethan was all smiles, all curiosity and all "whatcha doing?" as I stretched and breathed my way to some vague sense of peacefulness. He was mesmerized by the other babies, and the yoga instructor's voice, always soothing and sing-songy at times, captured his attention to the point that he forgot that I wasn't holding him every. single. second.
At the end, in Savasana, I laid next to Ethan on the mat, closed my eyes and tried to relax. He spent most of the deep relaxation time playing with my face. I took a moment to drink in the feeling of his little breath on my face and his curious fingers getting to know mommy's features. I thought for a moment about my body's recent struggles and "incompetence". I thought about how I have beaten myself up for months that I couldn't have a normal pregnancy like normal women and how I will never carry another baby. I haven't talked a lot about it, but it's been on my mind.
I realized--I have let myself get caught up in so much negativity in my own sense of my body and self--not nearly as badly as I have in the past, but enough for the lightbulb to go off. Enough for me to realize that I have to let those sad feelings go and appreciate what my body did accomplish and how amazing it is to have that accomplishment lying next to me, breathing with me and zen'ing out. I can't wait 'til next Wednesday...
And so here he is, showing that he can do yoga in his crib, even without a class--in a perfect "child's pose"....Zen Master E

"Mommy, look! Ommmmmmmm....."


Amy said...

That is awesome that you and E started a class! I think it sounds divine.

And you are a totally competent mommy and that's all that counts!!!

miraclebaby said...

Sounds wonderful to me! Now if I could feel confident enough to leave the house for more than 20 minutes with Dorothy.

KMW said...

I loved your post! It brought tears to my eyes when you talked about what you DID accomplish in having Ethan. I went to a bonified grown-up yoga class the other day (my husband made me, "you need to stop freaking out and go to yoga")and while I can hardly move a muscle I am so sore, I can totally relate to your post about the healing powers of yoga.I can't wait for mommy-baby yoga. Namaste!