By elliejklein on June 10, 2014
This post is about how and when I decided to get my yoga teaching certification (200 hours of training). The story takes place during the first year of my first born's life, and the first year of my husband's PhD. When my son was 6 weeks old we flew from Atlanta GA, where I had lived for 6 years and where my husband had lived his whole life except for 5 years during his collegiate studies. In Atlanta, we were leaving my sister, brother-in-law, young nephew, and my husband's parents. We were leaving our teaching mentors (my husband and I met while we were both novice teachers at a high school in the Atlanta suburbs), and a most wonderful and warm community of friends. We had to take the opportunity to move to "the north" because we believed this PhD would be the culmination of a lot of dreams and hard work. Indeed, in many ways it would instead be our undoing.
Somewhat like the Pilgrims during their first year in New England, we did OK through the fall season - as August turned to November. My husband was really jazzed about his courses and I occupied myself with my new baby, learning how to do the cloth diaper thing, getting my lactation settled, and garnering a part-time job at my favorite corporate boutique,Anthropologie. As an aside - somewhat ironically - my husband's PhD program was in (yup, you guessed it) anthropology. Then we hit winter. I had grown up in New York and attended college near Lake Ontario so I was familiar with snow and winter-related illness. But I had not experienced a winter in a long time...and never a New England winter. Well, that winter it snowed and snowed! It became difficult for me to "get out" of our apartment. One day when my mother was visiting she babysat our newborn and Dan and I walked to the movie theater nearby through several feet of snow.
When our son was about 6 months old he slept through the night for the first time. Usually this would be a cause for parents to rejoice, but I woke up with the beginning of mastitis. I wasn't used to sleeping through the night without nursing, and neither was my body. I remember that when I was diagnosed with mastitis, my friend who was studying to be a veterinarian knew about it because she had treated cows with this infection. After several days with me bedridden and the antibiotics not improving my condition, my husband had to go back to school, my mom had arrived to help me with the baby, and it was time for me to get a second opinion. It turned out that the next doctor told me the infection was resistant to the initial antibiotic because it was MRSA. Everybody in healthcare knows that MRSA is tough to fight. I was prescribed a drug called clindamycin, which was likely to get rid of the mastitis MRSA infection. It worked. Sort of. Unfortunately, the clindamycin led to my getting c.difficile (if you don't want to be grossed out then don't click this link). At the time, this condition mostly only occurred in nursing homes and hospitals, and my doctor dismissed it because she thought I was too healthy to have it. At my next visit, she finally had me tested for it. I was positive. My mom came back again, but she couldn't stay as long this time. It took a month and two courses of another antibiotic, vancomycin, to clear up the c. difficile. It wasn't easy for me to leave my apartment and I lost a lot of weight so I was just over 100 lbs. on a 5'2'' frame. When I started to venture out again I had the strength and appetite to go to a local yoga studio called Your Community Yoga Center . This yoga studio was possibly the most nurturing and restorative place I had ever been. One day I saw a sign advertising a training course to become an Iyengar-style yoga instructor. We had to charge the cost of the tuition (remember, my husband was a graduate student and I was a stay-at-home mom) on a credit card. I trained one weekend a month until I completed my course. Often, my mother came to help with the baby when I was at my training. I was on my way to recovery after an exhausting and unhealthy year. Unfortunately, just as we were settling into the beginning of spring, my husband got mononucleosis.
The upside was that our baby was thriving as he was reaching his first birthday. We decided to spend the summer in Maine doing outdoor adventure education. My husband and I were both pretty feeble when we started the summer, but gradually we regained our strength (but who really regains their vigor after they become parents?) and our health. That summer, in the beautiful lakes and mountains region of southern Maine we lived in a wood cabin and our baby took his first steps. It took us a long time to get over that year, emotionally and spiritually. The physical healing came first. I was not proud of my first year of motherhood, and my husband felt he had been shortchanged on his ability to focus on the first year of his PhD program. That year showed me the importance of healing and restoration - and that is how I approached my yoga teacher training. Seven years later, my yoga training and teaching is still "paying it forward." Don't ask if the PhD is done. I titled this post "Dear Prudence," because I have come to believe that it is our responsibility as teachers and parents to cultivate our own resilience - that is the most prudent action you can take to set an example for your own children.
Yaara made up this yoga pose (so it doesn't have a name) and asked me to take a picture of her
My daughter's pose reminded me of a version of pigeon pose so I was inspired to do it (this one takes a lot of preparation through opening the hips so don't just try to get into it without warming up first! once you are able to catch your foot, you can work on pulling it closer to your body - but in this variation I'm getting a great left front shoulder stretch)