5. Being physically flexible matters less.
Relaxin was anything but relaxing for me. I'm a naturally bendy-flexy person. During pregnancy the first thing I noticed was how unstable my joints felt. The stretchy poses I loved felt honestly terrible. But over 22 years of practicing yoga and meditation has taught me one thing - adapting your practice IS part of the practice.
Don't get me wrong. I love the mobility that Yoga asana provides. Mobility and flexibility are related, but not the same. Control and strength became the physical focus (sthira - if you will) and that helped me a better head space where I could love my practice even if it looked different (sukha - if we roll with the analogy).
I've always loved Power Yoga, running, and weight lifting. Pregnancy and post-partum recovery have been opportunities for me to lean into my STRENGTH. While running has taken a while to come back in full force (and it will continue to evolve over the coming months) I am finally able to enjoy a stretchy and deep yoga practice.
That said even during breastfeeding the hormone relaxin is still in circulation. So, I continue to prioritize stability and strength over stretch to keep things feeling -- well like everything is in the right place ;)
4. I Rarely Practice Vinyasa For a Full Hour
Going to hot Yoga studios after I no longer was operating my own was emotionally and physically painful. I couldn't even drive past studios for a while. I tried a few classes pregnant, but I was simply too bound up in grief from the collapse of my studio business dreams to not burst into tears when I rolled into a parking lot. Add in pregnancy hormones, the fact that I was ALWAYS HOT, and a hot class was basically a non-starter.
Quite literally my whole identity - for better or worse - was wrapped up in making my small business and my business partnership a success. When it was abruptly taken away I was directionless. But in healing my own heart after losing something I worked my entire life I reengaged in shorter practices at home. Stepping back onto my mat with a new life growing inside me was profound.
I also found that these shorter 15 - 45 minute practices were perfect to tack onto the workouts I needed to stay healthy and strong for myself and my daughter. And I've found they also deeply resonate with so many people who are tuning in. Many of us find value in blending Yoga into our other practices as well as carving out shorter practices so that Yoga is a tool for our day - instead of taking up our whole day.
Do I teach 60-90 minute practices now? Yes. Do I attend them occasionally as well and want to attend them more as I continue to heal? Yes. Will I own a studio with 60-90 minutes classes in person again? Probably, yes!
But the heart of my personal practice is hitting the mat for 20 minutes at home after a run, or incorporating yoga and meditation after a lift while my daughter is sleeping, or the 5-10 minutes of pranayama I do before bed or in the late afternoon before I make dinner. That's why so many of my online videos are less than an hour. It's what I need and how I truly practice at home.
3. Being mentally flexible matters a lot more.
As much as I have had to fortify and strengthen my physical body, I've had to soften and flex my mind in equal measure. Pregnancy and post-partum have left me with a body, a schedule, and a life that changes almost daily. Making plans are helpful only as much as it gives me a bullseye for aim, and then if I get anywhere on the board - success.
Yoga philosophy has a concept similar that helps me lean into mental flexibility. It's called vairagya. It is the concept of letting go, or detachment.
The way I think of it is this - imagine you needed to build a sandcastle but you didn't have a shovel or a pail. So you proceed to use your hands to scoop up sand, and water. At first you attempt to pick up sand and water in the same way you would pick up something more solid - with a strong fist. Then you realize the sand and water start to leak out of your palm the tighter you grip. So, you adapt, and you hold your palm open and loose. Suddenly the loose grip becomes the perfect tool to build your castle.
The goal didn't change. But being attached to how it gets done did.
Am I perfect at this. F*ck no. I'm pretty terrible at it. But I'm aware of how terrible I am at this, and that has led me to get better at it each and every day.
2. I really honor ... like really, really, really honor... how incredible my body actually is.
Did I come home from my 6 week appointment and complain to Tim that I still have about 5-8lbs to lose before I am in my pre-pregnancy zone. You bet I did. Because I'm a human woman who had to get weighed repeatedly at the doctors office over the last year.
But honestly, in the grand scheme of things, I am AMAZED as my body. Growing a human, pushing it out of my body, and then being able to feed her from my body are quite literally the coolest things my body has ever done.
I have plans to run marathons, lift heavier and heavier, handstand again, feel the flow of beautiful Yoga classes... but if I never accomplish any of those things I will forever be in awe of what my body has done.
In Yoga there's a real misconception that we are supposed to be exclusively transcendent.
However the practice itself is not supposed to take us out of daily living, but rather plunk us right into the middle of it. And the way to do that is through our body. Our body is the vehicle for doing things. I've never been more grateful for my body, proud of my body, and inspired to take good care of my body.
1. I have a deep gratitude for having Yoga, Breathwork & Meditation in my toolkit and feel even more inspired to share it.
Having a personal practice got me through business loss, friendship loss, infertility, pregnancy while being far away from family and friends, and finally postpartum and embarking on motherhood and my marriage with new motivation, and deep reverence.
The physical experience of pregnancy and birth were much easier because I exercised and kept my nutrition on point. But during pregnancy I also knew I needed more than just optimal physical health. I knew I needed to address my emotional well being. I needed UNION - connection - Yoga - and since I couldn't find Yoga in the old places where I would normally look I found it in therapy, in new friendships, and OFF the mat and OUT Of the studios where I could explore new facets of myself without any prior labels or expectations. I found deeper connection to myself as continued therapy with my therapist who is also a Yoga teacher and offers somatic therapy as part of her practice. I found deeper connection to my husband, who I leaned on more than I ever had before. I wouldn't have had the capacity to do that if it wasn't rooted in my personal practice of Yoga - not the poses but the philosophy itself.
The experience of birth, I found Yoga. Yoga's emphasis on continuing to be a student led me to embrace learning from my medical team, seeking their counsel, and trusting that we were creating a plan that was the best for myself and my baby. Yoga's emphasis on surrender allowed me to remember that plans change - so I felt ready to roll with whatever came up. Yoga's emphasis of consistent effort encouraged me to endure a very long labor without giving up. Yoga's encouragement to keep the body strong helped keep the pain minimal, and my confidence high as walked, danced, and bounced my way from 0-10cm. Yoga breathwork helped me labor with minimal assistance for 24 hours, stay calm during moments that felt a little bit scary, and then push her out and catch my daughter as she took her first breath. Yoga's emphasis on gratitude flooded me with immense thanks for the doctors and nurses who to sprung quickly into action to minimize bleeding when her cord snapped and my placenta came racing quickly out at little too quickly (we joke that Lane lasso'd up her placenta on the way out.) I didn't even have time to worry before they had already taken care of what could have been a problem.
Yoga has never conflicted, for me, with any other faith practice. It is a life practice with practical tools.
To be honest 'tribing up' in a studio too much has been problematic for me in the past.
I've been the person who never wanted to leave the yoga studio.
I've been the person whose primary relationships take place with other people on yoga mats.
I've been the person whose circle of friends had a language and a culture of self-help and personal development that quickly became obsessive.
I know that 'like-minded community' can be a slippery slope to becoming close-minded if that's the only community where you're spending time.
Even before pregnancy, and within the circles where I was a leader, I was striving to make this change. To cultivate places where you could touch base, fill your cup, but never feel like you had to look and act the part in order to belong. I feel it even more now.
I've always believed there's a middle way. I'm committed to celebrating that.
Find people you love, spaces you love, teachers you love, friends who love the same things you love, practices you love - but remember that the intention of Yoga is to also get off the mat and out in the world. Encounter things that ruffle your feathers. Put yourself in situations where there's no jargon. Talk to people who believe different things than you do. Talk to people who have nothing to do with making yourself 'better' 'faster' or 'stronger', but you just enjoy being around. Laugh at an inappropriate joke without judging yourself too harshly. Dare to suck. Dare to be bored. Dare to do something that you might hate a little bit.
Lane has expanded my world, and Yoga has continued to be my practice through it.
More off the mat than before, but on the mat too - to fill my cup and connect.
We tune in - together - and then we also get on with life in meaningful ways. I love that.
And for all this, and for you, my sweet yoga friends who continue to tune in, I am incredibly grateful.
One of the most common complaints I get from folks who have a ritual of attending vinyasa yoga class is that they LOVE their practice, but their shoulders are in pain. Be it at a class or in a convo in my DMs or over email these students thoughts and concerns start pouring out.
"What if I have to stop doing yoga?"
"I don't know how to modify poses and still feel like I'm getting the most out of class."
"What if I am just too heavy / too weak / too old for vinyasa yoga?"
No and no and no to all of the above!
Let's break down some of the common causes of shoulder pain experienced in Yoga class, how to manage it during your practice, and what you can do to make your shoulders stronger.
The thing is - we can'y always 'think' our way to confidence. Sometimes the best way to gain new insight, and a sense of empowerment is from ACTION rather than thinking. We have to get into our bodies and create more space for ourselves.
Power is not a dirty word.
In Chakra theory from the Yogic tradition the seat of power is located in our solar plexus. This is the center of action, confidence, free will, and getting 'ish done. It also seems important to point out that this is a significant interchange in our energy system. It's hard to tap into love, truth, intuition, or our higher selves when we are feeling powerless. In exercise science when we take on BIG movement we also know it gets our blood pumping, and when we focus on core work it help support our spine so we stand a little taller, and can feel both stable and dynamic.
In this flow we focus on BIG and powerful postures along with core work to stoke our power center.
Hope you love it! Let me know after class one empowered action you can take today.
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Body. Mind. Spirit.
Hi there! You found me. My name is Julia Marie Lopez. For 22 years I have studied meditation and mindful movement as my primary tools for healing. For the past 13 years I have worked as an instructor, a wellness business owner, the Founder of Practice Everywhere, and now I am embarking on a new adventure to expand how we define our Personal and Public Practices.
Since I offer you my experience and perspective, share my writing about life, love and wellness, and offer a bit of unsolicited advice, I think you should also know that I do include affiliate links and promotions in some of blogs. If you make an action (such as sign ups, memberships, or purchases) I might earn a commission. I promise to use this income to support my love of coffee, dogs, yoga, and my family (in no particular order).💜