Not on my spiritual practice, not on how yoga could help me in my life, but on how strong I could be.
I’m 40. I’d had a miscarriage, several infertility treatments, an emergency C-section. I’d lost 40 pounds, gained them back in pregnancy weight, and then lost them all over again. I take a thyroid supplement in the mornings.
It’s not that I was feeling “old” exactly, but more like I felt that I’d hit a new plateau. Maybe medium energy was about all I could muster these days.
Then I decided to give it one more go. I ratcheted up my asana practice both in and out of my regular weekly Iyengar class, increased the number of times a week I stopped in at my favorite dance/yoga/meditation class, and even added in some classes with The Bar Method. I was hesitant to even try. I mean, how could I possibly keep up this schedule? I told myself, I’d give it a month. Maybe six weeks. I asked Lucien’s babysitter to work a few extra hours so that I could make an early evening class; I asked Neil and Lucien for a little extra dose of patience with me on weekend mornings when I took off to get strong; when I felt guilty for missing the Lucien time (inevitable) I told myself this was just temporary. An experiment.
A month or so later, I can honestly say I feel better than I have since getting pregnant at age 35. I feel strong, energetic, more capable—and not just physically. Like a Handstand for the soul, getting out of my comfort zone and challenging my body has changed me from the inside out. Yes, I have lost a couple of pounds and gained some nice, lean muscles. Even better, I’m sleeping soundly and feeling happier and more optimistic than I have in a long time.
I’m still not certain how to keep this level of commitment up. (This past weekend, for example, I went to three different classes. My body felt great, but my heart missed my family. That’s not a schedule I can realistically sustain.) It’s about finding the balance, I realize. A balance I am far from perfecting. After all, these years do go by quickly. I’m not yet sure what the right formula is for staying healthy and being as present a mom as possible. What I do know is that my days of feeling strong and ready to take on the world are just beginning.
Jessica Berger Gross is the author of enLIGHTened: How I Lost 40 Pounds with a Yoga Mat, Fresh Pineapples, and a Beagle Pointer (Skyhorse), out in paperback this month. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband and four-year-old son. “Like” her author page on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter. Visit her at www.jessicabergergross.com.