by Jessica Van Valkenburgh
You’ve done it. You made it through Pregnancy, Labor and Birth. It might have been yesterday or many many days ago, but can you recall the overwhelming and immense sense of accomplishment and gratitude for your body as you stared at your sweetly sleeping baby? It’s not hard to feel a deep sense of wonder and appreciation for your body when you are experiencing the shiny new miracle of life created by it. But what happens a few weeks or months later, when the glow of new motherhood has worn off and the symptoms of sleep deprivation, hormone fluctuation, sacrifice and exhaustion set-in?
I am writing about this, because I am living it. As I write this blog, my 1 year old daughter clings to my legs at the kitchen table, constructing a diabolical plan to pounce at the keyboard as soon as I turn away. There are toys scattered across the floor and laundry that has been folded, but not put away for days, is stationed on the end of the couch. This is a season of life and I am learning how to juggle all of the hats. Some of them will come and go, but some will be mine to wear forever. I will have to learn how to choose the graceful, albeit awkward ‘Self-Care’ bonnet more often and put the ‘Perfectionist’ fedora that has been a staple in my lifestyle wardrobe for decades on the shelf.
My pregnancy was difficult. I was high-risk and had several complications. My self-care game at the time was off the charts, but I wasn’t just playing for myself, I was doing it for my baby. I remember thinking ‘I wish I could love and care for my body this much without a baby in it.’ My own personal relationship with my body before I trained to become a Body Confidence Advocate always seemed to be more of battle. My Body Story was something I took great pride in, once I learned to embrace and practice body positivity. But even I found myself not quite knowing how to reconnect with and truly love my body after becoming a mother.
Why is it so hard to love your body as a Mom?
It seems like birth would help us appreciate our bodies. It seems like we would be able to remember the amazement of our body’s ability to create and sustain life, but we forget so quickly. When pregnant, we are encouraged to embrace our bump, and welcome a growing and changing body with grace and compassion- but once the baby is born, the postpartum phase is perceived to only last 6 weeks.
There's a tremendous amount of pressure on new moms to not only “bounce back” but do it all. Trying to be Supermom has only made me super tired. It’s impossible to excel in all of the roles we take on as mothers- especially in 2020. But the main reason it’s hard for mothers to love their bodies has less to do with vanity and more to do with time-management. We are last on our list of care, and first when it comes to criticism. We are too busy comparing, focusing on our
flaws, and attempting to tackle the taxing tasks associated with caretaking for others to realize that real, sustainable self-love has to come from a connection to something we already hold in our hearts, our true Self (with a capital S). A haven of acceptance, authenticity, radiance, compassion, and grace.
I wasn’t sure how to find this, until I found Yoga.
“Yoga is the intimate dance that unifies the body and the soul. I have found yoga to be the most powerful catalyst for change, when it comes to loving and accepting our bodies.”
As a new mom, nothing quite compares to the openness and centering yoga has brought into my life. Yoga is so much more than a physical practice. My body ignites in the slow burn of a stretch. My mind learns how to focus on only one thing at a time. I practice perseverance as I push through poses, or exercises that are difficult. I practice witnessing and calming my anxiety through meditation. I practice finding gratitude for my body and soul, especially if I am carrying a little extra emotional, mental, physical, or spiritual weight. I can feel beautiful, happy and free by acknowledging my spirit’s desire to move and to be quiet. I am literally glowing from the inside out when I am serving myself with this karmic celebration of flow.
It has everything and nothing to do with being a mom. My mat is the one place where I can carve out the time to care for myself. Yoga has taught me that my body is not just my physical shape or weight; my body holds my mental, emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing as well. One way to love my body is to come into the present moment, breathe in peace, and breathe out the emotional residue I’ve been holding for everyone in my family. The relationship with my daughter is incredibly important to me, but I can’t bring my best to it if I don’t first work on my relationship with my body and my Self.
Yoga has saved my life as a new mom- and I want others to feel the incredible healing powers of the practice that has literally transformed every aspect of my life. And so, I have created an online Yoga Journey: Building Body Confidence, launching on Black Friday. Building Body Confidence is the only digital program of its kind that not only shows you exactly how to rewrite your body story with love and compassion — but how to build a more intimate mind and body collaboration through yoga, meditation, personal growth exercises, and coaching.
This course is my life’s work. I have included all the love and wisdom of my business, as well as over 25 years of expertise as a movement professional. By incorporating yoga and focused emotional clarity, you can shift your perspective to make the type of positive change you may have never believed was possible at such a delicate chapter in your life- just like I did.
It’s not that it’s inherently hard to love your body as a mom. What’s hard is believing that you are worth the time and energy it takes to practice Self-love consistently, prioritizing it above the day-to-day needs of your family - but you are. You are worth it. You deserve it, and being a
more grounded and confident person and Mother is the best gift you can give to the ones you love.
Want to give it a try?