Is yoga enough?
I used to answer this question with a resolute YES.
At the time, I didn’t feel like I had a need for other forms of movement for the purposes of health or wellness, which pretty much shows you how limited my idea of health and wellness was.
I was young and I took my relative health for granted.
My time was also entirely my own, so the idea of self-care wasn’t even on my radar.
Everything I did was self-care.
I practiced yoga for an hour or more every morning.
When I wasn’t practicing, I was teaching yoga at various studios and gyms.
I read books for pleasure whenever I wanted.
My weekends were full of adventures. Sometimes I’d travel, sometimes I’d go out with friends, and sometimes I’d stay in and watch movies.
Life was pretty simple, although if you asked me then, it was really busy and sometimes stressful.
Isn’t perspective interesting?
At this point in my life, yoga felt like enough.
I rarely got sick and if I got injured, my body healed quickly.
My yoga practice was reasonably advanced. I was known for being bendy — backbends were and still are, my happy place. But I could also feel myself getting stronger. Handstand away from the wall eluded me, but I could do complicated arm balance transitions.
I didn’t see the need or the point to lifting weights when I was pretty good at holding my own body up in odd positions.
If I wanted to get my heart rate up, I could bust out a few sun salutations.
When I felt the need to work on strength, I’d just hold handstand at the wall for a minute or 2. Or I’d do some crow push-ups.
If I felt overwhelmed, I could always sit in meditation.
Yoga was enough.
Until it wasn’t.
After giving birth the first time, my body didn’t feel like my own.
Everything felt hard.
Walking upstairs was like climbing a mountain.
Afterbirth cramps were like labor all over again.
Holding my baby, who didn’t sleep much and didn’t want to be put down, was a marathon for my arms and back.
Even pooping was terrifying.
Some of this is fairly standard after giving birth and I didn’t suffer the worst of it except hemorrhoids which are brutal.
But once I finally got back to my yoga practice, I felt like I couldn’t do anything easily.
It took me over a year to feel halfway normal in my body again.
Right around that time, I realized my yoga practice was not enough.
I needed to build more strength and endurance.
My body needed to be resilient to weather the changes I experienced as a mother, as well as the skillfully navigate the changes my body would experience as I age.
From a purely vanity perspective, yes, I wanted to lose the baby weight. But it was more than that. I wasn’t interested in bouncing back. I was interested in getting stronger.
Over the past 7 years, I have slowly added a wider variety of movement practices into my health and wellness practices. Using weights is now a daily practice.
I feel stronger than ever before, 3 kids deep and 1 month away from my 40th birthday.
I still love my yoga practice.
It’s just less limited by old rules and beliefs.
If anything, in the past few years, my practice has become more creative and dynamic. I am more interested in building strength than creating bendiness.
Usually, I start playing with a sequence of poses and when I need a break, I lift some weights. I repeat this cycle for as long as I have time to practice. Most days this is between 10 and 30 minutes.
If it doesn’t feel like enough, I squeeze in a little movement in my kitchen when I’m making dinner or before bed while I’m waiting for my tea to steep.
So is yoga enough?
Yes. And no.
More than anything, I am committed to exploring what my body can do. Not just now, but as I age.
Yoga will always be there for me. And I am glad I have these other cool tools, too.
When I come to my mat, I come to play and explore.
The same is true of my teaching.
In fact, I am teaching an 8-week series called Yoga with Weights: An 8-Week Yoga Class Series for Building Strength. Get more details here.