Marisa is a photographer specializing in baby and maternity photography. You can see some of her work on her Facebook page or her website.
From Pregnancy to a Year Old
You are reading this post three days after my daughter, Yara, turned a year old.
My journey with yoga began about 11 years ago and has been an on and off love affair that has gently carried me to where I am now. Along this journey I trained as a Sivananda yoga teacher in Kerala, India and dabbled in a bit of teaching both in Zambia, a place that will always be home to me, and Brighton, where I currently live and have subsequently discovered Scaravelli yoga which I absolutely adore.
If I could play a sound track to you as you read this post, it would be Monsoon Point by Al Gromer Khan & Amelia Cuni, so perhaps you could play it in another window as you read.
I discovered this music while I was pregnant with Yara and preparing for my planned ideal home water birth. Some of you after reading the previous sentence already have an inkling that this story isn’t going to reveal the ideal birth, but instead the birth that was meant to be.
I loved being pregnant and marveled at my ever-changing body giving space to this little being growing inside of me. My yoga practice took on a new dimension, which I loved and my body really understood on a deeper level what it needed to do in order to release the spine.
I practiced under Marc Woolford, my first Scaravelli yoga teacher in Brighton, during the first few months of my pregnancy.
Despite me practicing yoga, learning tai chi from my partner Edward, and all the mental preparation I did during my absolutely idyllic pregnancy (most of which was spent in the sunny Turks & Caicos islands) it all changed at 35 weeks when I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. After a 5 day stay in hospital I was put on a heavy concoction of medication to bring my blood pressure down and then at 37 weeks I had to have an emergency c-section. I am so grateful to the knowledge that yoga has given me to handle this extremely stressful time and remain somewhat centred. During this time I had a fantastic doula, Lucy Skelton, who is also a yoga teacher and was able to gently guide me through the process.
On the day of Yara’s birth, all within the space of an hour I had to transform my mindset from having a routine check at the hospital, after which I had planned a leisurely lunch in town, to deciding to be operated on immediately for the safety of my baby. Focusing on the breath and being present to what was, helped me regain my centre after the initial shock and panic of the unexpected news. After delivery it was my breath that got me through three hospital-bound days sharing a room with three screaming babies.
Lucy came to my house when Yara was about one week old to help me do some gentle stretching and mainly work on encouraging my shoulders away from up around my ears where they had found a new home after the terror of the experience.
When Yara was 8 weeks old we started attending a weekly mother and baby yoga class taught by my doula. It was a challenge to be ready to head out the door across town for the 10:30 start, yet it was so worth the experience. Meeting other mothers and their babies and feeling the connection through our common experience. Sharing the delights and concerns as well as creating the space to allow our bodies the chance to ever so slowly stretch and strengthen once more.
The course only ran a month and then with the arrival of family from abroad, Yara’s ever-changing routine, and my efforts to start a photography business while improving my knowledge of the craft…yoga slipped away. I would have snippets of it as I reminded myself to breathe while nursing Yara or attempted a sleep-deprived practice on the mat. If I was particularly lucky I managed to escape for a yoga class with my delightful teacher Dot Bowen and came away feeling Marisa again, yet it was not enough to sustain me each day.
This was until about two months ago when I discovered this blog and was deeply inspired by a post about committing to 5 sun salutations for a month. I went easy on myself and committed to 7 days to see how I would go. I realized it was the first time I had consistently practiced yoga probably since my teacher training 6 years ago and I felt fantastic for it! It wasn’t about how long I did or whether I completed the 5 sun salutations – it was about rolling the mat out each day and giving my mind and body the chance to reconnect. Each week now I recommit another 7 days and marvel each day as I notice the change, the strength developing and most of all the chance to reconnect to myself.
I’ve realized that my yoga practice doesn’t have to involve the candles, relaxing music and solitude that I knew prior to being a mother, but rather takes the form that the day presents. If I have the energy I rise before everyone is up and relish the peace, however if not I grab a moment during the day while Yara plays around me or wait until the day is complete and I have my mat time. I’m so grateful to have found a way to incorporate my yoga practice back into my life and the irony of it all is that now as I have less time for myself, I’m able to have a more consistent and fulfilling practice.