P for Pigeon- evolving in an asana on the mat and in life

My body used to love the pigeon pose. Usually practiced toward the end of yoga classes after repeated downward dogs and upward dogs, lying down on the mat with one leg stretched out and the other folded and tucked under your upper body, was relaxing. This was before I put on 20 Kgs and had a baby. Following the birth of my daughter, this pose has become a challenge, my body has evolved to dislike this pose.

The only explanation that I can come up with is the hips that have changed. This hips that has borne the brunt of my pregnancy and child birth and the weight of my one year old has caused them to revolt. As soon as I stretch myself into the pigeon pose, I feel borderline pain searing outward from my hip. My body speaks to me of memories and patterns locked into those hips- those of pregnancy, childbirth, parenthood and of increased responsibilities. Despite the pain, I still go into the pigeon stretches. “You cannot always do what you like- you have to also explore what makes you uncomfortable” the voice of my yoga teacher finds me on my mat from time to time, pushing and prodding.

There is another aspect of my life that has changed since my daughter which is travel. Getting away from it all for short work trips used to be a very attractive alternative. Hop on the plane, forget yourself in series of movies and people watching binges, arrive at your work destination, meet with colleagues and finish your assigned task. No house to clean, no dinners to cook, no mail to check, and no commute. I become a hotel hermit. I work and I sit and soak up the silence.

But travelling is no longer what it used to be. It comes with healthy dose of guilt and loud pangs of separation from my beautiful delicious chubbiness of a daughter. As I write this, I am on my first work trip post baby and I am missing her desperately- her smell, her tantrums, her curls, and her voice. It feels like I have left a part of me behind and I am no longer a whole person.

Back in the US, when I was thinking about this travel, I was looking forward to some quiet time. I was thinking about all I could get done; focus on my personal projects; my yoga my meditation my business my writing. I saw myself sitting in my hotel room drinking cups and cups of warm green tea and relaxing. Well, I am here, but I am not able to enjoy myself or relax completely. I wonder what she will think of me for leaving her, if she will be able to make sense of what is going on around her and why she is seeing her mommy only on the screen.

I may continue to travel for work and welcome short breaks from home but my expectation of these trips has toned down. I have changed. Motherhood has changed me. While there may be moments of quiet and uninterrupted time for work and catching up on personal projects; the longing for that small part of me that I have left behind will be forever a part of me.

 

Permission to Enjoy Life

I have folded myself into the cozy delicious pages of stories and wisdom. I have surrendered to my desire to read letting go of that nagging voice of reason- ‘too much of good will not last’ or ‘why do you need to spend money on books, you can alway get free books at the library’. Except that the books at the library are never the ones that I want to read. I have forced myself to read books that someone else has judged as a good book, an intellectual book, a must read. Many of these ‘recommended books’ were a disappointment.

After a long time, I decided to indulge myself and ordered 6 six books online. I had instinctively felt drawn to these titles and for once without questioning myself I jumped in and waited in sweet anticipation. The books arrived one by one in neat brown packages. For a week, each day I came home from work, a package would greet me, adding a spark to the humdrum that is life.

The titles and cover pages with splashes of colors promising an adventure. One by one I devoured them all. At water’s edge by Sara Gruen; Life from Scratch by Sasha Martin; Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George; The magic of ordinary days by Ann Howard Creek; Emptiness dancing by Adhyashanti; Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard; and finally The art of hearing heartbeats by Jan-Schendle.

As life ebbs and flows around me, books remain a ready source of escape, encouragement, inspiration, and a dear companion. It is sometimes an art and an effort just to let go and indulge in something you love without the baggage of guilt. I read on the train instead of working on my laptop. I read on my yoga mat instead of practicing my asanas. I read on my bed as my daughter lay next to me playing with her blanket trying to fall asleep. I broke out into laughters and tears regardless of who was watching me. It felt like the forbidden pleasure that comes from digging deeper and deeper into bags of chocolates and heaps and heaps of pasta.

Something shifted within me recently. I realized that I was waiting to enjoy myself; waiting for things to fall into place before I gave myself the permission to enjoy life.  This is no news flash, I have always known this and observed this as a pattern in myself and others but  this knowledge has never transplanted itself into my heart, mind, and gut like it has now. What brought about this change? Was it the daily dose of asanas and meditation or that one day of perfect road trip or the sudden realization that I am turning 35 this year?

There has  and always will be ladders to climb, one more chore to finish, decisions to make, improve oneself…..and in all of this I have to make time and space of to indulge in what I love- books, vacations, my beautiful daughter, my family and friends, writing,  and elaborate teas and lavish dinners.