Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Yoga Makes the Family Come 'Round

I love Yoga.

Yoga has kept me flexible as I’ve aged.

It eases the lower back pain I developed after carrying Sarah.

I even found a routine that alleviates menstrual cramps all day without having to take a single Ibuprofen.

And when Pat was traveling while Savannah was a toddler, it gave me respite from her terrible two’s.

A few years ago after Savannah got over those terrible two’s, my sister Valarie, a Yoga enthusiast herself, gave Savannah her very own Yoga DVD complete with a mat. Savannah and I spent many weekends with our mats next to each other, leaning on one another during Tree Pose, laughing until we cried doing the rocking Beetle Pose, and I frequently ended up in Corpse Pose, my favorite of all poses (Duh!), with Savannah sitting on top of me giggling. It didn’t have quite the calming effect on her I hoped it would, but we had a blast.

Now when I exercise at home Sarah waits for me to finish and then asks me to put in that same yoga DVD.

“Lay down, Mommy. Lay down,” she says and I go through all the poses once again with a different child, and she doesn’t lie on top of me in Corpse Pose. She’s too busy talking. Again, not quite fulfilling the purpose of Corpse Pose, but I enjoy it.

Corpse Pose is meant to give you total relaxation, a meditative moment at the end of your practice. You lie on your mat, eyes closed, hands open, and let the relaxation come.

The power of Corpse Pose came to me not long after I began practicing Yoga on the weekends. It was the week after my father died and I had been back at work for a couple days. I had a gym membership through work and they offered a Yoga class every Friday during lunch. I decided to take advantage of it to see if I could get any relief from the grief that completely consumed me, if just for a moment.

I had never taken a Yoga class before. I had only used videos and books. The instructor announced we would be concentrating on our feet that day. Interesting, I thought. And then we spent the next 20 minutes looking at, stretching, and massaging our feet.

Interesting, turned to, This is just weird.

Finally, about half way through, we began doing the traditional poses and ended with Corpse Pose. Aaahhhh! I sunk down into the floor, took in a deep breath, and closed my eyes. I hadn’t been too impressed with the class, but I was ready to just be alone, away from work, away from the phone, and even away from family.

After a couple moments the instructor’s voice faded and I felt like I was in my own cocoon. Suddenly I found myself in my father’s living room. He was lying in the same hospital bed the hospice care company had set up for him 3 weeks before he died. During those 3 weeks I had wanted to lie down next to him so badly, but he was in so much pain from the cancer, I was afraid of hurting him. He seemed too delicate.

But that day, in that Corpse Pose, in that imaginary cocoon, I walked to the bed and laid down next to my father. His arm, attached to many tubes, wrapped around me, and we clung to each other in silence.

I don’t know how long I stayed that way before I heard the instructor’s voice call to me. I was the last one in the room. Tears were streaming down my face.

“You okay?” she asked kneeling beside me. I just nodded and wiped my face. She helped me fold up my mat and put my things away, and we parted ways with a smile to each other.

Yoga has continued to be what I turn to when things get to be too much, or I feel as though I’m sinking. I’ve tried to make time for it while working through this postpartum funk. Three kids don’t allow a lot of free time for a full routine, but I try to sneak in a Corpse Pose every once in a while, even if it’s with a babbling toddler next to me and a sleeping baby in the swing. It still gives me just a moment.



  1. What an amazing experience! I love Yoga, although lately I have less and less time to devote to my practice. The kids enjoy it too and we try to have a family 'class' from time to time, but the twins are a bit little yet to get involved, so they just get in everyone's faces while we do it. I am so happy for you that you have found a way to be close to your Dad, yourself and your children. Yoga is the bomb!

  2. This was touching and beautiful! I am so sorry to hear about your Dad! Using yoga for healing is completely inspiring!

  3. You're a doll for saying I'm a yoga practitioner! (Once was. . .) I do have a cool routine on the desk here next to me, though -- it's beckoning. I need a bit of cocooning myself!

  4. So sorry to hear about your Dad - and as for the Yoga, I used to "practice" in college and I can see how you had some "moments."

    And welcome to TMC!!!

  5. Ladies, it's so good to have you visit and share your thoughts.

    A family Yoga class sounds so great. I can only seem to get one kid to participate at a time. And forget about my hubby joining in.

    And, Val, you and I have had several conversations about nothing but Yoga. You were the one who gave me the daily dozen from Sara Ivanhoe, remember?