My practice is different. I’m different.
I’ve been a yogi over 13 years and dancer my entire life. For as long as I can remember, my body has been my vehicle of expression. I’m familiar with pushing it to the limits in performance or exploring postures I never thought possible. But, dialing it back through postpartum recovery or because I am a different person taking care of a new little person is foreign water to me. My ego and I have had some interesting conversations about how my practice “should” look like post- baby. You should practice a certain style again, you should be able to do (X,Y, and Z) asana right now and you should do it all for a certain amount of time- uninterrupted. The truth is, most of my savasana’s have looked just like this photo over the last year. Sneaking in my practice has been different and has required some creativity- it’s sometimes solo, sometimes with a little one breastfeeding, sometimes while she plays quietly next to me, sometimes while she laughs at what I’m doing, sometimes while she’s having a snack, sometimes while she’s crawling all over me and sometimes in the midst of working full time while she naps. Again, don’t should all over yourself. Simply find moments where you can move and be in your body. Find moments to watch your breath and your thoughts. Motherhood can be an excellent practice in mindfulness if we let go of all the shoulds.
Strength doesn’t just come in the form of handstands.
It takes a certain level of strength to show up and choose to participate in life while living on a torture level of sleep deprivation or in constant state of distractions. The plate of motherhood is constantly overflowing and constantly being juggled with the plates of our families, our careers, our social obligations all while we are navigating this new body and who are now -because we have changed. Know that even if it doesn’t look a certain way, you are amazing and you are stronger than you think.
You are enough and you have everything it takes.
Sometimes, I feel like I need to poll all the mamas in my village, read every book or blog on parenthood, talk to our pediatrician, my lactation consultant, my friends who are pediatric dietitians, my pelvic floor specialist, doctors, nurses, or Ayurveda practitioners to see if we are doing “it” right. There are a lot of opinions and a lot of conflicting information. While each and every one of these sources can be helpful at some point along the path, the truth is- you already have everything you need to know within you. Trust those mama bear instincts. Trust those little whispers. You were chosen to be the mother of this particular child. And, you know exactly how to mother THIS little one. Even when you wish they came with a user’s manual, remember: you’ve got this.
It won’t last forever.
In the beginning, my daughter nursed 21 times a day on average and doubled her birth weight in two months exclusively breastfeeding. I earned enduring nicknames like “the milk truck” or “whale’s cream”- thanks, Dad. I recently read a statistic that said breastfeeding for a year is equivalent to the same amount of hours you put into a full time job with 2 weeks vacation. Yes, maybe the time is the same, but breastfeeding is no vacation. You’re on call for nursing or for pumping 24/7. It is amazing, exhausting, hard ass work and so sweet all at the same time. My goal was to breastfeed for a year, then see how we both felt. We just made it to 14 and a half months. At times, it was lonely. At times, it saved my life to look down at this little being who solely depends on me for their survival. No matter what problem or situation was happening around me (and there have been some real, major problems this past year), when I looked down, all of that disappeared. Raising a little one gives you a big dose of perspective. You realize nothing lasts forever. They will not always be so small that you can cradle them in your arms. They will not always wake you up multiple times in the night to snuggle or nurse. They will not always look to you for every hug, kiss or answer. Even in those hard moments- during the sleepless nights, the developmental leaps, the teething, the tantrums- try to stay present, take in the moment (no matter what is going on) and know it won’t last forever.
Photo credit: A huge thank you to Lisa Wilson for capturing this photo of Charlotte Rose and I in Baby and Me.
Tina Tidwell Bedore, 500 E-RYT– an owner of Bella Prana Yoga and Meditation, professional dancer and director of Amour Movement, graduated from USF with a degree in Dance and Psychology (focus in Body Image), has performed in France, Florida, Ohio, LA and NYC and was awarded the Arts Council of Hillsborough County’s Individual Artist Grant in 2013. She fell in love with yoga, through dance, after studying with Michelle Jacobi at the Centre de Yoga du Marais in Paris, France. Tina received her 200 RYT (Ashtanga) at Yoga on High (OH) with Martha Malcom, Tim Miller and Maty Ezraty; received her 500 RYT through Asheville Yoga Center earning certifications in Meditation, Bhakti Vinyasa Flow, Prenatal, Yin, Seniors, Yoga as Therapy, Yoga and Ayurveda, Restorative and Kids yoga while studying under Michael Johnson, Scott Blossom, Libby Hinsley, David Keil, Doug Keller and Stephanie Keach. She has worked with professional athletes as well as dancers, taught Yoga for Performing Artists at PAMA, for USF’s Piano Symposium, USF Music’s Fit to Play, USF Dance and America Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive. Tina currently resides in Tampa, FL leading group yoga and meditation classes, private lessons, yoga teacher trainings and yoga retreats. Her classes challenge the body in mindful and creative movement while using the breath as the musical cue. She is grateful for the unconditional love and support of her husband David, their daughter Charlotte Rose and big golden retriever Hank.