Yoga after pregnancy can be a difficult transition for some women as life can get totally shaken up with the introduction of a little one, not to mention the physical changes to one’s body. But of course it’s not a rare phenomenon! I recently sat down with my friend and colleague, vinyasa and restorative yoga teacher Sarah Scharf, to discuss yoga after pregnancy and loved her honesty and practical approach to finding her practice again after the birth of her son. She’s back in London this week and I can’t wait to see her.
What has been your reality of yoga after pregnancy?
At first, yoga after pregnancy meant really letting go of having my own practice time, as the first couple of months were so intense with taking care of the baby and recovering from the birth experience that I barely had time for showers- let alone daily asana. Learning to take a few minutes wherever I could, and having a set time where someone else would watch the baby so I could practice helped a lot. In a huge way it has made me appreciate my practice -just a minute on my mat can be a refuge now! Physically Iâ€™m totally different, tight in new places from sitting and breastfeeding so much, weak from sitting so much and my weight is distributed differently too. Poses that used to seem easy are now a big challenge, Iâ€™m really starting over and getting to know this new version of myself. Emotionally there have been a lot of ups and downs, so having breath and meditation tools has saved me. If I donâ€™t make the effort (organising childcare) to take care of myself, my whole family suffers.
Has Meditation changed too?
In the first week I was so high on the hormones and excitement of the baby that I could barely sleep, even though I was thoroughly exhausted. I tried to meditate when the baby slept, or used Yoga Nidra to rest. During breastfeeding I also try to do simple Pranayama or meditation. My mind is much busier with a whole other person to worry about! Sleep deprivation is a big challenge, but at least I can often â€œwatchâ€ how crazy mind is, or find some humour in how forgetful I can be. Rather than seeing the lack of time to sit and meditate, I try to find the calm moments and rest with the baby or visualise a protective circle around us when I feel anxious.
How has your teaching changed?
I donâ€™t know yet! Iâ€™ve been on maternity leave and will be teaching for the first time since my son was born next week. Since my practice has changed so much, I feel a lot more empathy for all the beginners and the people struggling to make time to practice. My awareness of limitations is increased and I am even more interested in modifications and ways to slowly and gently build up a practice from listening to the body rather than brutalising it. Since giving birth and watching my son develop and grow I am in such awe of the human body and experience, I feel the preciousness of life and each moment more acutely. All of this growth will no doubt filter into my teaching, as more than ever the importance of yoga is really clear to me and Iâ€™m passionate about sharing that.
What are you teaching on your upcoming trip to London?
Iâ€™m teaching two workshops, both focused on working with intentions as opposed to a New Yearâ€™s resolution. After the holidays we are faced with January and the resolution game. This is particularly focused on fitness and health for many of us, and pretty harsh on the tail of festive indulgences. As a yoga practitioner and teacher Iâ€™m interested in what brings us back to the practice, no matter how long itâ€™s been or how off course we seem to have gotten. My recent experience of becoming a mother and yoga after pregancy has really taught me how hard it is to start again. When youâ€™ve fallen off the wagon (or yoga mat in my case) itâ€™s really the attitude we bring to stepping back on that makes a lasting difference. The workshops will both highlight ways to move in the direction of awareness and self-acceptance. We will work with my specialty – a flowing vinyasa followed by restorative poses. Saturday is a bit more work on creating intentions and Sunday will be about creating more relaxation in our lives.
Staying True to Your Intention: moving in the direction of freedom
Saturday January 9th 2-5pm
The Life Centre Islington
Sunday January 10th 3-5pm
Yoga on the Lane
Sarah Scharf been a professional yoga teacher for over 10 years. A senior teacher at The Life Centre, teacher trainer and mentor for Yoga Campus, regular teacher at Triyoga and international retreat leader. She holds specialty certificates in Pregnancy Yoga, Restorative Yoga and Triyoga Hot.
Currently living in Vienna, she travels regularly to teach in London and the US. Her professional training began in 2003 with Ana Forrest, then at the Esalen Institute.Her main teacher is Judith Hanson Lasater, whom she assists internationally with trainings in Restorative Yoga. Her personal practice is guided by the writing of Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun who teaches meditation.