Archive for the ‘Ashtanga Yoga’ Category

Checking in quickly here… I’ve been writing a bit elsewhere, but I miss this space and I realized how helpful it is to have the journal of my previous pregnancy experiences to look back on as I don’t remember much when I try to think back on my own.

So here we go again… 19 weeks along (I think… I can’t seem to keep track this time), due March 3rd. Definitely not the “princess pregnancy” as number one was… I sort of feel like I’m being dragged kicking and screaming into pregnancy, mostly out of fear and dread of last time’s complications.

I’ve ditched the Ashtanga for a while and I’ve become a regular at the level 2/3 vinyasa classes at a yoga studio in town. (GASP) I shudder when I think of how far I’ve strayed from my once-dedicated ashtangi roots… but I realized that one of the main reasons I fell from my yoga practice last time around was how much of the ashtanga practice you have to modify or give up as pregnancy changes the body. Primary series turns into one half-bend after another, and in my second series poses, well… there goes pasasana, shalabasana A and B, dhanurasana, bakasana b, ardha matsyendrasana, bharadvajrasana…  I was practically in a state of mourning last time around. And while there’s still several poses in the Vinyasa classes that I’m modifying or skipping completely, I don’t feel that huge sense of loss as I did with trying to continue with a daily ashtanga practice.  I’m happy where I’m at now, and I think that by keeping up with some form of a regular, physically demanding yoga practice through the next 5 months, it will be that much easier to come home to my ashtanga self-practice after March.

This time, I keep looking for the reasoning behind avoiding certain yoga poses instead of blindly adhering to the advice. Why give up handstand if you have an existing, controlled handstand practice? Why give up backbends and dropbacks if they still feel good?

On the “being pregnant” front, this whole high-risk thing sucks. I’m on weekly progesterone shots to keep the pre-term labor at bay. I was warned they “might make you a little grumpy” and HOLY HELL was I angry all day Tuesday after that shot. Could be partially placebo effect, but shit. Stay out of my way on Tuesdays from here on out until baby #2 comes in March. In the meantime, I suppose I’ll invest in some aromatherapy oils to get me through those mood swings without committing crimes of rage.




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My, it’s been quiet here for some time.

There have been changes… of course the usual changes that time forces upon us:

The Physical

gray hair: can’t decide whether to let it go or start dying again.
smile lines: well, whatever. At least I have a lot to smile about.
feet: no change here. They’re still too big. I guess that will never change.


The Family

Ash: goes from baby to boy in what seems like an instant, running, jumping, making up songs and jokes. There’s no way to sum this up in a sentence, but he amazes me every day with his wit and his charm and I wonder what parts of him are ours and what parts are truly his. He is stubborn and silly (me). He is pensive and cautious (tay). And he is picky as all get out (all ash).


And then beyond those, changes that I initiated… whether intentionally or not:


The Professional

Last year I started a new business with a partner. Basically doing what I was doing before, but now on our own. We’ve found some success, and it’s exciting and fun and challenging, but I found myself with no real “hobbies” outside of wine. And anyone who knows me knows that I’m queen of hobbies. Or something like that.


The Practice

If that’s what you can call it still… I’ll expel upon this at greater length than the others listed above as this is supposedly a “yoga” blog. There is a longing for some sort of rekindling my practice, some sort of daily discipline of Ashtanga… but a complete disconnect of how I get from here to there. I’m an Ashtangi miscreant, and my body hates me for it. Some days I have 20 minutes on the mat and I play around with arm balances or navasana variations, and then the very rare days that I find myself with ample amount of mat time, I bust out my full (once) practice complete with dropbacks and Tick Tocks and then just expect my body and mind to deal. And in the end… Body= pained. Mind= pained. There are, of course, all of the self-deprecating comparisons of where one pose was three or so years ago (kapotasana, for example) vs where it is today. And then the results of intense backbends and twists on a system that is no longer accustomed to intense backbends and twists, like cocaine only more focused. (not that I would know…)


A small group of friends are putting together a “yoga club” or something like that and invited me to practice with them… one of them was a former student from a few Ashtanga workshops I put on years ago, but the rest are recent acquaintances within the past two or so years. And when I offered to lead a vinyasa session here or there if they’d like, one said, “wow! I didn’t even know you were INTO yoga!”


There are days like this that I’m happy to have Ganesha perching on my shoulder. He brings me back to my mat, even if it isn’t a daily practice at this link in my lifechain.



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Nothing too new to add here… Life is crazy and work is nuts and stress is always present, tying knots in my stomach and shoulders. But it’s all wonderful. Yoga practice? I took some deep breaths in the car yesterday. That was my yoga practice.

I had this moment on January 1st when I said I would do WoYoPracMo, then did really good for the first week, practicing every day, feeling sore and exhilarated and recommitted. And then I had a week of horrible back pain and stomach pain and I fell off the wagon. Again.

Not sure what’s up with the stomach… I’ve had some sort of pain basically since I was pregnant, although it was extremely localized up until the past few weeks. A tender spot about two inches below my belly button and two inches to my left. After the pregnancy, I just figured maybe it was scar tissue healing from the C-Section. Now since its been so long, I’m not so sure, so I’m getting it checked out. Yes, people. It takes me a year of discomfort before I seek medical help. A whole year.

The back pain is a combination of weakened abdominal muscles and hoisting a 20-plus-pound wiggle-worm around in ways that are definitely not orthopedist-recommended. We don’t call him Squirmin’ Herman for nothin’. Actually I’m pretty sure that the root of it all came from moving around after the surgery, as I vaguely remember this same aching in the same spot in my mid-back as I was hunched over my stitches for several weeks…

So yeah, no yoga lately. Maybe I can make the second half of January.

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um, yeah right.

But seriously, I will. And if Julie can make it back, so can I.

I’m not going into all that happened in the past 6 months, just believe me when I say that we’ve been busy. Busy, happy, and well.

Well, maybe I’ll add just a little. Ash got his first pumpkin on Halloween.

He was dressed as a penguin, and seemed pretty happy to be one. See for yourself:

He learned to crawl, he began pulling himself up on things, he “creeps” but isn’t walking on his own yet.
He said his first words, “Mama” and “Hi.” He’s added a few others since then.

We picked out our first Christmas tree.

We threw Ash his first birthday party, a week early. He ate his first cupcake.

Ash’s first cupcake from Jenna Cox Congdon on Vimeo.

I go back and forth about whether I should do all my blogging here, or start a new blog over there, and I think I’ll just keep it all here. There’s just too much history to leave it all behind. And I fear that starting a “non-yoga-blog” will allow me to slip even farther away from my yoga practice… In some strange way.

So now that I’ve mentioned it, the almost-non-existent-yoga practice, the elephant in the room, at least for me, I guess I’ll muse about it just a bit. Now that my yoga studio is a baby’s room and the rest of my house is littered with baby toys, laundry, and other evidence of the life that I just can’t shut out no matter how hard I breathe or how focused my driste is, I have a tough time making it on to my mat. I’m squeezing in about one practice a week, and most of those are not Ashtanga, they’re just quick little vinyasa practices or focused yoga “workouts”. In between all those, I’ve begun running again. It’s an exercise I can do with my son, thanks to the Bob Stroller a friend gave to us. I’m enjoying it, for now, but I’m committed to someday making it back to a daily Ashtanga practice…

I know that it will have to be an early morning practice, something that used to be so easy but now seems completely out of reach. 5:00 am. Ouch.

But for now, baby steps. Today, sun sals, standing, finishing. By January 1st, I hope to phase into full-primary 3 days/week.

And have I mentioned how much I hate backbending? Can you believe I just said that? Me? The one who would come over to your house, have a glass of wine, and end up somehow in Vrischikrasana or Kapotasana “just for kicks”? It’s true. I can now relate in some small way to Julie and Lauren and I can tell you that surgery changes everything. Yes, that’s me up there in that photo in Kapotasana. Before the C-Section. Now? I can barely scrape my toes with my middle finger in that pose. Ankle grabbing, something that I’ve been able to do since the day I was given the pose, is worlds away, in any pose whether it’s Kapotasana or Urdvha Dhanurasana. Every backbend feels like my midsection is going to split open. Not only that, but my sacrum is set differently somehow after the pregnancy. So there’s that too. The days of busting out exhilarating ankle-grabs and shin-grabs and relishing every moment of drop-backs are gone. Even just a simple Urdvha Dhanurasana is an exercise of panic-control. I expected to feel different after child-carrying and birth, but I figured it would be in my hips. No big difference there, except for some mild shortening of my IT bands due to the running.

I look back on the days of my daily self-practice with wonder. Who was that person? How did I do that? Can I ever get back to that place? And while part of me beats myself up over wandering so far from that place, another part of me accepts it, relishes the fact that I’m able to let go of it all in order to enjoy the other facets of my life that I feel deserve my focus so much more right now. And maybe that’s part of it. I tend to be a little single minded and obsessive about things, as you all know. So my current obsession is… being a mom? Hope that one’s not a passing phase… 🙂

Other than all that, I don’t have much to say. I’m out of practice, in more ways than one. But I have a good excuse. And speaking of my good excuse, I have to go wrap his Christmas presents now…

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30 and New Digs

Yesterday I turned 30 without too much fanfare. We had a great Mother’s Day weekend and had some early birthday celebrations over the weekend, and I think we might have a little BBQ/Bowling party next weekend, if I can get it together in time.

So I haven’t been posting here much lately… For whatever reason, I feel a little confined in the yoga blog. I’ve been feeling the need to write more about my life as a new mom, so I started writing over at jennasuz.blogspot.com instead. I may post here from time to time, especially if I’m able to fulfill my new goals of practicing at least 3 times a week.

I hope to see you all at the new place!

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Back to the mat yesterday for full primary…

I’m sort of curious how other ashtangi mothers handled their transition back into practice post-partum? I don’t feel strong enough to take on my full practice through my second series poses, but pre-pregnancy, my instructor had me splitting at Navasana on those days when I felt too tired or rushed to fit in my whole practice. Or I could just keep on with primary, and add on my second series poses as I feel ready… Thoughts? Please share!

My body composition has definitely changed from what it was before my pregnancy. Since the water weight disappeared, I’m more willowy, I guess. The waist is a good inch smaller than it was before. Less muscle mass. A little skinnier, but softer too. Maybe because of this, my shoulders are a lot more open. Wrist binds (which were once a bit of a struggle) are now effortless, even in pasasana.

This is not at all what I was expecting post-pregnancy, but it certainly is a nice surprise.

Of course, I’m a lot weaker now as a result of this loss of muscle mass. I don’t really mind, but the “party trick” transitions are practically impossible now.

I dread twists that compress my breasts. Unless I’ve just pumped, that is.

Yesterday I stood up from a backbend for the first time in probably 6 months? Scary. I took a step or two back on the first one to regain my balance. Dropbacks were scary, too. Less effortless, less comfortable, less “hang time.” But it was a thrill. I skipped my ticktocks, but held a handstand for 6 breaths. The bandhas are slowly coming back. In fact, Uddiyana feels tighter, more pronounced. Again, maybe because of the lack of muscle mass?

Time on the mat is a little more sacred. It’s a rarity these days, and yesterday I felt like it was the only thing I had that was purely “mine,” not shared with my husband or my child.

Oh and as a side note, Tay has started practicing yoga fairly regularly. He uses podcasts from yogadownload.com on my iTunes and probably uses my mat more than I do these days. Just as I told him it would so many times before, he says it really helps his hands and wrists (carpal tunnel syndrome). I don’t say “I told you so” out loud though. I’m just happy he found his own way there.


On the baby front, Ash has his frenulectomy today. Hopefully it helps with the breastfeeding. He is SUCH a slow eater. He’s started smiling here and there, and a few days ago he actually laughed. He’s over 11 pounds now, out of all of his newborn clothes and almost into some of his 3 month clothes. He’s quite a little chunk.

Sometimes he cries for an hour or two without reason. Tay and I take turns holding him, bouncing him, rocking him. Usually the moby and gripe water trick works, but sometimes it takes a while. I eat my dinner standing up at the bar, shifting from one foot to the other. Of course, these trying times are totally forgotten the next morning when he smiles and coos as he jumps up and down on my lap (with my assistance, of course).

I was getting my hopes up for that magical 3 month time, when a baby’s personality starts to shine and the smiles are more social, and when the fussing starts diminishing a bit… but then I remembered that we have a bit longer to wait with a preemie. He’s 11 weeks, but his “adjusted age” is just 6 weeks.

Even so, he’s definitely a little character.

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