Quite honestly, after having a baby, I fell out of love with yoga posture (asana) practice. Yoga no longer felt like my friend. It felt like a frenemy that I had, had a bitter falling out with.
my old repertoire of yoga postures no longer felt natural, beneficial or even healthy for me.
before pregnancy I used to hang out in the wide-legged splits with ease, meditating on the breath. Postnatally, just seeing someone else in the splits would make me wince and shudder!
those same postures that previously nurtured me, became sinister. All of my old movement patterns felt unsatisfying and down-right uncomfortable. I felt like my body was inadequate but equally and maybe more so, I felt betrayed by my yoga practice. I had always trusted it to carry me through everything.
neither was yoga theory hitting the spot in the way that it used to before. I felt a real disconnect and lack of inspiration as a truth-seeker. At the time, as a new breastfeeding mother, my whole being was consumed with child rearing. Being with my son was offering me such completeness in itself, that prancing around on a yoga mat felt absurd and redundant. Before being pregnant, yoga was all that I ever needed… but not any more.
I would wonder whether it was the end for me and yoga. Maybe we had come to the end of the line. Maybe I had changed too much. Maybe it was time that I rolled up my mat and sought a new profession. A new way of being. Yet strangely enough, I didn’t feel sad about the idea of giving up yoga, I felt like giving it the middle finger. I just felt a mixture of disdain and apathy towards yoga, like you might an ex-boyfriend that you are happy to see the back of.
I abandoned my physical yoga practice for a good 6-8 months postnatally but I knew I still had to move. So what happens when you’re a yoga teacher that hates yoga? I can tell you, it can feel quite disorientating! It was time for stability and strength training rather than end-range flexibility stuff. I focused on rehab and retraining target muscle groups. I delved more into my pilates and discovered High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
the combination of these two disciplines brought me the strength, stability, balance and body awareness that I was missing. I found new ways of moving that were refreshing and empowering. I recovered not only from childbirth but managed to heal really old injuries that had been bothering me for years. 9 months postnatally, I finally started to regain a taste for my yoga postural practice. I would find myself wanting to flow again and rediscover and re-explore. To my surprise, I found that I had new insights and even improved at certain postures that I hadn’t touched for ages! The core work had unlocked some new pathways that complimented the postures! Why didn’t I think to cross-train sooner?! Because previously I was so busy being such a yoga purist that I had overlooked the simple and obvious benefits of integrating other disciplines. Not any longer!
so now I have a new love for Pilates and HIIT which I thank for helping me rekindle my love for yoga, which luckily enough, has come back with a vengeance! So it turns out that it wasn’t a break-up, we were just on a break 😉
over the last 12 months I have been building more of the insights of Pilates and HIIT into my yoga classes and have had great feedback from students that have also found the exercises to be effective and functional.
benefits of HIIT
- bursts of high intensity cardio helps increase metabolism, burn calories and reduce fat
- increases your endurance and stamina
- the intervals of high and lower intensity are good for heart health
- builds muscle strength and tone
- challenging and diverse movement patterns and exercises to build new motor neural pathways between body and brain
benefits of pilates
- intelligent core activation creates an awareness of subtle, less obvious muscle groups
- retrains imbalanced movement patterns to more healthy ones
- creates shoulder girdle and pelvic stability
- strong supple optimally functional abdominals
- protects the spine and alleviates back problems
- improves posture and body awareness
- improves pelvic floor awareness and tone
you can try out my Yoga & Pilates Fusions series on Grokker.com at this link here
here I have put together this 20 minute Yoga – Pilates-HIIT combo workout which will give you a taste of the benefits of adding new exercises and techniques to your yoga practice. Please watch it through once before trying because it moves quite quickly. It will build strength and stamina and stability in an effective and targeted way and will provide great foundational work for some of the more advanced strength yoga postures such as handstand or forearm balances that requires a strong core.