In 2016, I began my pilgrimage into motherhood. I gave birth not only to my son, but to myself as a mother, to my partner as a father, and to our new relationship together as parents. This felt like everything both falling perfectly into place and completely falling apart all at the same time.
Perhaps these feelings, of falling together and apart, are just two sides of the same coin and both essential for transformation, growth and embracing change at any stage in our lives.
The last time I remember having a similar roller coaster ride of internal experience was nearly 10 years ago when I started diving much deeper into my yoga practice. The asana (physical poses) became secondary as I found myself digging much deeper into myself, peeling back the layers and uncovering what was really underneath. It was a time of vulnerability, confusion, fear and doubt but also absolute elation, purpose, clarity and bliss.
Yoga is a state of being. A return to wholeness, non-duality, the union of breath and body, matter and spirit, heart and mind. To walk the path towards Yoga is having the drive to know yourself, to really and truly seek to know every dark corner and hidden room of your mind. This involves letting all our defences down and going to that exposed and vulnerable place. Letting go of everything we think we know, removing the safety net of existing and preconceived ideas on how we think things are.
It’s when sh*t starts to get real.
So when I had my baby in April 2016 I found myself back in that place of needing to embrace the practice of radical and complete letting go. (Just taken up a fair few notches!). Accepting control is an illusion and anything I think I know I really don’t, so don’t bother trying to pretend I do. This was where my Yoga practice really came in to support me, above and beyond the physical realm. Sure, my strong body definitely helped me recover quickly after birth. I chose to have an epidural too, us yoga teachers feel pain and are human too! But in the days and nights after birth my practice kept tapping me on the shoulder and reminding me to just keep checking in, keep breathing, continue to just be with whatever the moment was presenting to me at the time.
Motherhood has been my most authentic experience of karma yoga (the yoga practice of action without seeking reward), Seva (service), and bhakti yoga (yoga practice of devotion) so far. The ongoing Yogic practices of cultivating self-acceptance, letting go, compassion, change and non-attachment, have also been a huge help. But always a work in progress! It is why we call it Yoga practice not Yoga performance after all.
For the year ahead I hope to continue to use my Yoga practice to support me on my journey of motherhood. Not by “getting back in shape” with loads of core exercises or by trying to get my baby to do asana with me. But by practising RADICAL self-love and acceptance. By constantly checking in with myself and my partner as we navigate building this new life and new relationship. To keep reminding myself that I am doing ok!
Having a baby has without doubt been my most honest and authentic Yogic experience to date. And it hasn’t involved a mat, £80 leggings or standing on my head.
2017 is time to regroup and refresh. Keep learning and appreciating this.
How has motherhood changed you and your yoga practice? I would love to hear your experiences in the comments below!
About Hermione Armitage
Hermione has been exploring Yoga in its many forms for over 15 years and views herself as lifelong student first and a teacher second. Completing her first Yoga teacher training with Yoga Campus in 2011, she went on to train with Jo Manuel at the Special Yoga Centre, Teaching Yoga to Children and Yoga Therapy for Children with Special Needs, as well as with Mollie McClelland Yoga/ Sadhaka Yoga, through the teacher mentor programme. In 2015 Hermione completed a 300hr training with Shiva Rea to become a certified Prana Vinyasa® teacher. Hermione also holds an Honours Degree in Religious Studies, studying Eastern traditions including Yoga, and was initiated in to the Himalayan Yoga Tradition (meditation and philosophy) in 2012. She is also trained in massage at both the London College of Massage and Mudita Thai Yoga Massage school. Hermione’s classes build strong, creative, mindful sequences from the ground up – with full awareness of breath and feeling the body. She hopes to inspire others into a positive relationship with their body and mind, being less interested in fitting people into poses and more concerned with helping people fit into their own practice.
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