Friday, February 17, 2012

Balancing Poses, Balancing Life

Before I was pregnant if you asked me what poses I'd be practicing daily at 31 weeks pregnant, I probably would have said "Supta Baddha Konasana" or "Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose"...  I certainly would not have mentioned balancing poses like Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose), Vrksasana (Tree Pose), or Virabhadrasana III (Warrior 3 Pose). But with 15 extra pounds on my belly, more flexible joints, and a body changing faster than I've ever experienced in my life, I can't get enough of the very poses that I would think should be the most challenging--the poses that most teachers would caution me to practice next to a wall just in case my changing center of gravity causes me to waver. And they feel effortless.

In fact, I couldn't feel better.

It's a beautiful metaphor for life now and what's to come in my life. When I shift from Triangle Pose to Half Moon, it's a reminder that I am strong enough to balance this growing baby, my practice, and whatever craziness life puts in my hands. I can do it!

What poses empower you right now?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Stress: A Poem -- 3rd Grade Style

S is for Superwoman. I am not. 
T is for the Tension I hold in my jaw when I try to do everything all at once.
R is for the sweet Realization that failure is a critical part of growth, not something to fear and obsess over.
E is for Erica...the epitome of stressed out in this moment.
S is for my Shoulders.. and how they creep up toward my ears.
S is for Savasana, Sidebends, Spas, Sipping herbal tea, Sweet friends, Sunny days, Silly pets, and all the other things that help manage the daily stress in my life.

How do you handle the particularly horrible, stressful times?

3 Things I Didn't Know about Pregnancy Yoga

1. It's not rocket science, but it's different for everyone. When I first found out I was pregnant I freaked out--and not just because of the whole "there's a person growing in my belly" concept, but also because I didn't know all the "rules" about practicing yoga while I was pregnant. Now that I'm into my third trimester I feel qualified to let you in on a little secret. There are basic guidelines for practicing when pregnant. Yes, there are many poses that are recommended or not recommended during pregnancy--but it's different for everybody and what feels great one day might feel totally horrible and unsafe the next. The same "rule" applies to pregnancy yoga as yoga during any other time of your life: Trust your body and your intuition.

2. Most yoga teachers really don't know that much about yoga during pregnancy, so it's important to do your own homework. Sure, they know the basic modifications for twists and Savasana when you've got a giant belly, but unless a teacher either has extensive training in prenatal yoga (or has actually experience practicing yoga while pregnant) I take what they're saying with a grain a salt. Sorry men.. I don't care how many books you've read--if you haven't felt it, I won't be seeking out your advice. Oh, and even though not everyone knows very much about pregnancy yoga, when you tell a teacher you're expecting they will feel the need to tell you everything they DO know. I found this particularly annoying in my first trimester when I didn't exactly want everyone who walked into the studio to know my business and ask me questions.

3. I hate prenatal yoga. I apologize in advance to all the prenatal teachers and mamas out there who got tons of benefits from their prenatal classes. It's just not for me--at least not yet. I've been to quite a few prenatal yoga classes (to be clear, I consider prenatal yoga a class that's designed for pregnant women as opposed to pregnancy yoga which is the term I'm using for practicing any hatha yoga during pregnancy), and they seem to be geared toward the mama who might go into labor at any given second instead of to someone like me who still wants to move a lot and get in a good sweat. It's possible that I just haven't found the right class for me yet. But for now, I'd rather modify poses in my regular classes. I can still salute the sun, thank you very much.

I want to hear from other yoga mamas out there.. is there anything that really surprised you about practicing yoga during pregnancy?