Even the mat feels different beneath my feet. I wiggle my toes, close my tired eyes and try to focus. But I think about whether my husband will remember the swaddle, if I locked my keys in the car rushing here and how uncomfortably tight my tank top is becoming every minute I’m away.
I catch myself breathing a quick sigh of relief when the teacher keeps the lights dimmed at the start of class. There’s talk of mantras and intentions and I feel a heaviness grow in my chest. Suddenly I’m hyper aware of my own weaknesses, as a person and a parent too. I open my eyes to look around, anything to get outside myself.
Oh, there she is. The perfect yogi at the front of the room. She’s nailing gravity-defying inversions with an extraordinary lack of body fat, all in trendy constellation booty shorts. I pry my eyes away.
It doesn’t matter that I can’t see myself in the mirror. I wouldn’t recognize my outline even if I could. My legs ache and my arms shake, doing poses I’ve done with ease hundreds of times before. The familiar Sanskrit words, the consistent rhythm, and the routine flow give me comfort. Little by little, my breath deepens to fill the postures.
For the first time in a year, I start to feel at home in this very unfamiliar body.
As we bend backwards, the woman stuck in the corner catches my attention. I recognize her from the parking lot. She had three car seats in her minivan. Three. She’s sweaty and unsteady in her faded black stretch pants and I’m thinking she must be superwoman. Namaste, mama. Namaste.
Beat up as I am, I feel a little tinge of motivation deep in the pit of my stomach. This mushy, postpartum body is actually pretty strong. It made my favorite tiny person from scratch. And maybe I’ve got a long way to go, both on and off the mat. But I’m not stopping. I can’t. I have a little yogini at home who doesn’t know better than to think the world of me.