5 Ways My Yoga Practice has Changed Since Motherhood | By Sarah Ezrin

Last Updated: November 20, 2023By

In the past four and a half years, I have had three pregnancies, a miscarriage and two births. My body has been stretched, ripped and cut. It has expanded and contracted and expanded again. The body I see in the mirror today is totally different from the one that I started this process with almost five years ago. It sometimes feels like I’m living in another’s person’s skin. My eyes feel the same, my soul feels the same, my essence remains, but my physical form is brand new.

My yoga practice has changed immensely, too. Before having children, I wouldn’t eat certain foods or do certain physical activities because I was worried they would disrupt my leg-behind-the-head poses the following morning. Nowadays, I’m happy to eat my kid’s goldfish and do a few cat/cows. Despite my asana (physical postures) practice being a lot less physically advanced on “paper” (or in pictures), it’s actually the deepest it’s ever been. Beyond doing longer warm-ups, using way more props and skipping poses that don’t feel good, I’m truly listening to my body and its needs.

Motherhood redefined yoga for me. It taught me that the depth of our practice isn’t measured by the amount of poses our bodies can do or how far we can bend. The depth of our practice is based on self-compassion and deep-listening.

Even if you didn’t carry your child in your body, motherhood changes you. Caretakers hold the weight of the world every day, both literally and metaphorically. You are a playground and you are a shelter. You are a pillow and you are a blanket. You are an anchor to the present and a magic carpet to dreamlike adventures. Let us learn to embrace these necessary changes by adjusting our asana practices to meet us where we are. After all, just as we are refuges for our children, our mats are one of our safe havens, too.

Here are five ways my practice has changed since I have become a parent:

  1. Strength over flexibility: I started practicing asana in 2001 at 19 years old. Deep flexibility was my main goal, but since becoming a mom, I now much prefer working on stability. This looks like doing transitions exceedingly slowly to engage my muscles and working with active range of motion over passive range. Passive range is when an external source moves your body. This could be using your hand to pull on your lifted leg in ardha chandra chapasana (sugar cane pose). Active range is when you rely solely on your muscles to move your body. It could look like bending your lifted leg, heel to bum, but without using your hands.
  2. Rotation, rotation, rotation: For over a decade, I practiced Ashtanga yoga which is quite linear, especially the first and second series. Many of the postures focus on the sagittal plane, which are the movements of extension and flexion. Extension includes arching the spine and straightening the knee or elbow. Flexion is rounding the spine and bending the knee or elbow. These days I am all about rotational movements, especially when it comes to my spine. For example, I add spinal rolls to parsvakonasana (side angle pPose) so I’m rolling up and down between virabhadrasana II (warrior 2) and parsvakonasana. I’m also a sucker for a good neck roll in pretty much any shape.
  3. Short and sweet: Where I once felt I “needed” a full two hours to do a “complete” practice, I’m now grateful to move my body in any way and for any length of time. You have a lot on your plate as a parent of young kids, and the days of luxurious practices and seven-minute savasanas are much rarer. This may change again as my children become more independent, but for now, I’m happy to do a few sun salutations and call it a day.
  4. Slow down: I never moved at lightning speed in my practice, but I did keep things moving and always managed to get a lot in if I was ever pressed for time. Nowadays, it can take me thirty minutes just to do my opening portion, which as mentioned above is often the only time I have to move anyway!
  5. Speed up: That said, there are also portions of my practice which I used to enjoy holding interminably, like standing poses, that I now much prefer to move through in the form of repetitive flows. I especially love blasting some music so it feels more dance-like. My practice used to be incredibly austere and measured. Today it is a source of joy and fun.

Embracing the Future

It is normal and okay to experience a sense of grief over the body you once had. I miss the days of dropping backwards without needing to see where I was going or folding in half and having people sit on me, but it is simply the truth of being human that our bodies change. Let’s practice learning how both mourn the past, while also appreciating the present and embracing the future.

Before kids, my asana practice was my purpose, my everything. My life existed on the periphery. As a mom of two young boys, my practice is now on the periphery, centered around this beautiful life.

Sarah Ezrin

Yoga Educator, Content Creator, Mama + Award-Winning Author of The Yoga of Parenting


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