Our first blog post of 2020 is by The Family Room’s resident yogi Denise Peyre.
I’m not really one for resolutions, but I love to welcome in each new year with a fresh perspective on life, family, motherhood, wellness, my yoga practice, and more. This year – 2020 – with its obvious parallel to clear vision, feels like a particularly good time to challenge myself and the new and expectant mamas in my classes to hit the reset button on our view of the world around us, and our place in it.
Even before I became a certified yoga instructor, I loved yoga for its ability to facilitate perspective in my life. As a parent, my perspective is constantly being reshaped through the eyes of my young son. So I started thinking about how to find newness in the mundane, how to find grace in the everyday-ness of our lives, in our bodies, our families, as parents, as partners, by viewing them through a different lens.
Sometimes the mere act of doing something slightly differently can shed entirely new light, so on the mat felt like the perfect place to start. In yoga, there are several easy ways to change perspective – to approach the practice differently – to keep things fresh and have a different experience every time. That newness on the mat can extend to off the mat as well.
We hold postures differently, and downward-facing dog is a great example of a shape that lends itself to shifting perspective. One of the most well-known shapes in all of yoga, the shift is indicated in its very name – downward-facing. You literally are holding a shape that is upside down. Every time we take this shape, we are drawn into a view that is different than the usual by looking back between our legs. Take advantage of your time in this posture to turn your mind upside-down as well, and see what insights emerge.
Breath is another great way to try something a different way and flip the experience. We often begin with structured pranayama – or 3-part breath – that begins in the belly, moves up through the ribcage and into the lungs. The exhale reverses the process back down to the belly. Try building the breath in reverse – breathe into the lungs first, then the ribcage, then the belly, and reverse the exhale up into the lungs rather than down. See how that changes your energy or emotions.
Inversions are another easy to way to change your point of view. Legs up the wall is a great inversion shape that not only helps lower anxiety and improve circulation (not to mention provides relief for swollen ankles and mama’s tired feet), it also makes you look up. We spend a lot of time in life looking down – at phones, toddlers, our changing bodies – but also looking at what needs to be done, where we need to rush off to next. Try a few minutes of feet up the wall to look up – at the blue sky, open and full of endless possibility, or a ceiling fan, with its soothing slow rotation.
Try to see your body with newness as it changes every day to get ready for childbirth. It’s less about the shapes you can’t get into, and more about supporting you where you are in your journey toward parenthood. If your little one is with you in class and can’t settle, consider how they add dimension to your practice rather than distract from it. Try a different lens. And we’ll see you on the mat.