Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Starting from scratch again

I gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy on April 7th.  Silas Michael Cellere wanted to enter into this world butt first, which resulted in a c-section for me.  There is quite a bit of recovery time after a c-section.  When the doctors and nurses told me that I can’t do yoga for 6 weeks, I thought it wouldn’t be so bad.  I could spend time with my little guy and really delve into this whole mommy-hood thing. 

Well, about 4 weeks into my recovery, I was really missing yoga.  Not just physically.  Actually, not at all physically… I realized more and more that that 90 minutes in the hot room gives me so much more than just a nice yoga butt.  I mean, I knew this.  I talk about it all the time in class – how this yoga just makes you a better you, how it cleans out the clutter of the mind, how it opens you up energetically, spiritually, and emotionally.  But to really be forced to take a 6 week hiatus and experience it was pretty profound. 

My last class before giving birth was Tuesday morning.  I went into labor on Wednesday night, and had the baby early Thursday morning.  7 weeks later, I got the a-ok from my doctor to get back to my yoga.  So of course, 7 weeks and 1 day later, I walked back into the hot room to practice! 

It was kind of surreal driving to the studio.  I had this nervous, giddy feeling throughout my body.  I knew the class was going to be hard, and I was really looking forward to getting back into my body and seeing how it would all roll out.  After 9 months of not doing the Cobra series, I expected it to be somewhat hellish.  I mean, for me, seriously, the Cobra series always has been the hardest part of class, so I was ready to suffer.  Well, all of this foresight was absolutely NOTHING in comparison to what that first class back was like. 

And “Poof!” 

Just like that, I am a beginner again.

So you might be thinking that 7 weeks isn’t really that much of a break, and that it really shouldn’t have been anything as dramatic as I make it out to be.  Well, let me explain something.  There is this beautiful little hormone that your body produces when a woman is pregnant called relaxin.  (All women actually do have this already, it just increases a ton when you are pregnant.  It increases slightly in our bodies when we menstruate as well.)  This hormone’s function during pregnancy is to relax the joints in the pelvis so the baby has room to pass through the birth canal.  Guess what?  It relaxes the rest of your joints and ligaments as well. 

Students would ask me all the time what it was like practicing while I was pregnant.  And I would always exclaim, “It’s so much easier now!!”  I was flexible beyond anything my non-pregnant body ever experienced.  So let’s just say that those 9 months that I was practicing… it wasn’t really my body.

Back to my class…

I got a little bit emotional and teary-eyed looking at myself in the mirror as we all interlocked our fingers nicely underneath our chins.  I was so overwhelmed with happiness to be back in that space, but as a totally new person.  As a mother.  That feeling quickly disapated as my shoulders and neck started screaming, “What do you think you are doing?!”  Neck might hurt “a little bit”, my ass! 

My arms felt like lead in half moon.  And the beautiful half moon shape I used to make while pregnant looked like a shaky, straight banana.  And where I once saw the back of my mat during the backbend, I don’t think I saw where the ceiling met the wall behind me that day.  And the shaking… oh the shaking.

Before I was pregnant, I was a Japanese Ham Sandwich, with only inches from touching my head to my feet.  However, now I can’t even straighten my legs.  Oh the tremendous stretching feeling, PAIN SENSATION!!  I came up after the first set, and the instructor, Linda says to me, “How was that, Danielle?”  And I say, “Oh shit!”  The whole class chuckled, and we moved on. 

I can continue to go into detail of each posture, like how my legs were bouncing up and down in the second part of Awkward Pose, or how Triangle Pose got the better of me and I had to come out after about 5 or 10 seconds, or how I looked like a ramp in Camel Pose, or how I literally had about 90% of my weight in my hands in Cobra.  (FYI – nowhere in the dialogue does it say “arms are supposed to hurt” in Cobra!)  And did I mention the shaking??  I could talk about all these things, which I am sure would be quite amusing.  But instead, let me just say that the whole class was like an out of body experience.  It was me looking in on me as a brand new student.  Only instead of being brand new, I know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.  I just can’t quite get my body to cooperate. 

It was interesting.  In a way, I almost think it was harder than my very first class.  In the first class, we have no idea what we are doing.  We have no idea what “trying the right way” even means.  It takes a while to figure that out.  You come out of your first class a little bit sore in a few places, but you really haven’t even touched the surface yet.  This class, I tried like hell the right way, and my body shook and stretched and became jello.  I watched myself, knowing that it wasn’t going to take me too long to get back to where I was, yet truly amazed at my body’s regression, the stiffness, the pain sensations. 

So I am starting from scratch again.  I took my fifth class this morning.  And while I still feel a little bit “out of body”, I’m intrigued by the possibilities.  I know where my body can go.  I am curious to see how long it will take me to get back to where it used to go.  Today I thought, “Hmmm, I bet in another week, I’ll get my head back to my knee.”  I’m resetting some goals in my practice, such as holding Triangle longer the 2nd set.  (In my defense, my incision area from the cesarean does feel very pulled in this posture, so I’m very cautious.)  But how cool is it to be back to setting goals for the basics?? 

I am truly looking forward to watch my practice rebloom.  I am a new woman in there, so it seems very appropriate that I have to start from a new place.  I look at myself in the mirror and see a mother.  I see a very strong woman who had the ability to carry a child in my body with grace and happiness.  But even more so, I look at this strong body of mine and am so proud of what it is made to do.  My beautiful baby boy, who I love more than I could have ever imagined… he started his life with me.  And all along, I had my yoga practice to guide us through.  So although my muscles are stiff and my spine is creaky, I walk again into the hot room with my head held high, my eyes wide open, awaiting my very own rebirth.

 Tuesday, April 5th.

Thursday, April 7th!  Welcome Silas!


  1. Oh boy - you made me LAUGH and CRY!! Well, not QUITE crying, but I got a little bit teary at that last paragraph. You are such a gorgeous human being. But those posture descriptions had me laughing out loud. I especially like how your camel "looked like a ramp." Self-observation at its finest!!

    Also I bumped into a student from Auburn when I was teaching in Lexington this weekend (small world) and she was super impressed with your pregnant yoga practice.

  2. Good stuff, Mama. I remember my first class back I couldn't wait to ROUND my spine! First SHTK felt soooooo good. So happy for you, isn't it just the best love affair you've had in your life?! And it just gets better and better and better!

  3. What a wonderful post!! Congratulations on your healthy son and welcome to motherhood. I've been checking your blog to see how you were doing and I was so glad to hear from you today. You're such a champ! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! Also: I found that doing some half sets at home on the days I couldn't make it to the studio was helpful. Muscle memory or some such. Take care of your back leaning over that little one all the time!

  4. I teared up alittle love you girl your a great mom.

  5. With grace and happiness...the only way to go.

  6. I had baby #3 on April 12, 2011 and can completely relate to the parts about no flexibility post baby. I too found bikram much easier while pregnant.

    I want to thank you for your post as it really spoke to me. I returned to bikram yoga 4 weeks post baby, and could not believe how much my postures had regressed. And it really discouraged me. So much so that it was hard to motivate myself to go. While pregnant I practiced at least 3 or 4 days a week. After the baby, I've been only going once a week. Your post made me realize that instead of being discouraged - look at it as a challenge. To not compare where I was before the baby to where I am now.

    Thank you for such a beautiful post. I really felt that it spoke to me.


  7. Congratulations on your new baby and new practice!

  8. dancingj - I was laughing, too, when I wrote this, just remembering how it all felt!

    Shannon - Oh yes... Rabbit was the bomb!! And OH YES - the biggest love affair EVER!

    Anonymous - Thank you! You are right about the back from leaning over the little one. I mostly feel it in my neck, I think.

    MJ - Love you, too.

    name - Indeed it is.

    Brenda - I am so happy that this post spoke to you and that you can take the discouragement and turn it into wonderment. You will get back to where you were before faster than you think. (Especially if you get back to 3 or 4 times a week!) Enjoy it!! It's your body to change!

    laleah - Thank you!


    Absolute proof that this yoga is for EVERY body as long as you try and try and keep coming back.

    Much love to you and your family!

  10. Girl, I just love your writing. I know you're super-busy with teaching and mommying, but I read your posts like crack. I want to know how you're doing now! Let us know when you get the chance! :-)

  11. Congratulation
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  12. Great post! Today was my first time practicing since giving birth 5 weeks ago, and I had a similar experience! EVERY SINGLE POSTURE felt more difficult than the first time I practiced over 5 years ago. Even though it was a little discouraging at first, I'm very excited to begin this journey all over again! Thank you for this post!