I remember thinking that it would be a good excuse not to run when I was pregnant. I was feeling a little burnt out, less than motivated, and just plain tired. That was until I saw Kara Goucher and Paula Radcliffe featured in Runner’s World as pregnant, logging 50-60 miles a week, and continuing with a strength conditioning program. The little voice in my head that thought pregnancy was an excuse not to exercise was thinking, “uh oh.” I no longer had an excuse. Then something happened; I actually became pregnant. I still ran, surfed, lifted, taught yoga, took Pilates and did all the things that I was doing, which my midwife encouraged. That was the first trimester. I was tired and nauseous, but I felt better doing something than just sitting around and wallowing in self-pity. Then the second trimester came. It began to become uncomfortable to run. As a firm believer in “listen to your body” I stopped running around five months, which I did with my last pregnancy and knew that would be fine since I was back to racing six months postpartum. I’ve also heard stories of hernia from running through pregnancy. To each his own. It didn’t feel right for me. I did continue to surf, teach yoga, and take Pilates and strength classes. So on I exercised, and continued to get bigger and see the scale escalate: grateful that the baby was healthy and growing and I maintained my sanity. For me, exercise is natural prozac as they say (not that I have ever taken it). I love that endorphin high and overall stress release. It’s a mental “ahh” for me, and it helps that it’s good for my body too. So on I trudged. Then the third trimester came and trudging turned to waddling, or so it felt. The time came when it became difficult to roll over at night, get out of a lounge chair, or reach my feet. As I told my husband one night, “I don’t know how pregnant people who don’t do yoga can even move.” Times were tougher. And what does the average person do when things get tough-quit or persevere. I chose the latter. I continued walking (slowly and less miles), but still did it. I continue to teach yoga in “a new state of awareness” as on one of my Prenatal Yoga DVDs encourages, and continue to strength train. Every time I complain about being too tired or pregnant, I come across some piece of evidence to continue. For example, this weekend I was reading Shape and it stated that strength training through pregnancy should be continued. Darn, that inner voice to stop had another “uh oh” moment. So, this morning my beloved “functional strength” class began at 9a.m. At 8:45a.m. I began to hear my son rustle from his slumber. Inner voice states, “well, I don’t want to rush” and the counterargument ensued “just go, 45 minutes is better than nothing.” So we went: ten minutes late, but I felt so good afterwards. I’ve heard before the most difficult part is getting there or starting, but when you finish you are so glad you went. I’m glad I did. On Thursday and Sunday I swam. So what if it was 10-20 minutes. It felt great. I may not longer be logging in 20 mile/week runs, or swimming a mile at a time. It still feels good to do something. Even if it’s a walk around the block, a ten minute swim, or fifteen minutes of yoga. I feel so much better-mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Surfing eight months pregnant is something I never thought that I would do. With my first pregnancy I stopped at four months (it was October and getting cold anyway). Although I surf year round, getting into a wetsuit pregnant is very unappealing. Plus, I worried about the cold altering my body temperature & the baby’s. So after having my first son, I paddled back out after eight weeks recovery from birth in the warmth of the end of June. This time, I got pregnant in December, and found out in January the day before we left for Florida on vacation. I surfed while there knowing that it would not be long before my bulging belly would inhibit paddling and popping up. I continued to surf through the winter back in Maryland and remember having a conversation with a girlfriend about when I could potentially go until. I predicted April (four months), she predicted May (five months). I thought four since that’s when I stopped last time and the belly bulge was getting uncomfortable. She shared that she surfed five months pregnant in Hawaii. I was amazed. Wow, the thought that maybe I could go to five months was promising. Months rolled by and Spring turned to Summer. Everyone I knew that surfed locally as a mother stopped around four months. One woman said she caught one wave at seven months. I was awestruck. May came and went; I was still paddling out. June came and I was still paddling out. Now it’s July. I paddled out Tuesday. I can’t believe it, but I caught and rode three waves. The feeling is euphoric. One of the reasons I love surfing is that it feels like Samadhi. This is the goal of yoga-to become in a peaceful state while on Earth. When surfing, everything fades away. You don’t think about your to do list, negative self talk vanishes, your worries, stresses, impediments vanish. You are in a state of bliss. It is heaven on Earth. This is why it is so difficult to give up. Nothing makes me feel that way. Meditation feels wonderful, but there is no other feeling of being in a state of higher consciousness while moving. Do I worry about the baby? Absolutely. Would I surf if I thought it was unsafe? No. The key is I can’t fall. There is no room for error. How do I achieve this confidence? Through yoga. I read about activities that pregnant women should avoid; such as, surfing. Why? Because of balance. So many pregnancy books, websites, etc. caution you to be careful since your center of gravity is off. This is prudent. However, they don’t tell you how to improve it. Yoga is integral to maintaining and strengthening balance.
At yoga on the beach this morning, I had a man in his sixties. We were discussing how balance needs to be practiced. As you age, you lose it. If you don’t practice it at any age, you lose it. So, I believe it is important for anyone, but especially for pregnant women since the baby clearly affects balance. I am so grateful that I can still teach and practice yoga. I am also grateful to be able to paddle out and surf when the water’s calm and the surf is small.