When we hurt

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I think about my pain a lot. I think about how I'm not happy like the rest, and how I am simply not built with a joyful, easygoing, or optimistic disposition, and that I have been this way for as long as I've been able to recognize myself, and because of this, I'm not comfortable in certain social situations, especially around super gregarious loud-types, and why I'll never be a really successful yoga teacher because I'm too understated or shy or ordinary-seeming.  I think about how tired I am, how alone I can feel caring for a baby all day in a place 50 miles from my friends and community, how I've been battling mysterious and ongoing infections for the last 7+ months of my breastfeeding journey, with no end in sight. I think about just getting through it for my daughter, who I love so much that sometimes I think I can't even feel it, because that would be too much and too scary. Tonight, I put her down to sleep and then went downstairs to clean up. I saw her water cup, which is brand new and made of bamboo, and has bits and pieces of food in the water, which is why I had to get her her own cup. I picked up the cup of backwash water and thought, "I love you," then emptied it into the sink.

 

I think about how some social media accounts (people?) that seem so open and honest and able to be "themselves" are so admirable, but at the same time their lives look far too amazing and styled for me to take their hardships seriously, and then I feel guilty and jealous. Do they have "unspecified anxiety disorder" like my superbill from my therapist states?



I think about being a mom who currently does not work. My life is 24/7 Opal Nyx Saltarelli. I think ALL moms, working moms included, are also 24/7 "fill-in-child's-name." Are quotes necessary there? I can't care. BUT. It's a different experience to spend nearly every waking moment with your baby. To not have an identity outside of this little miracle being, especially when there is no way to describe how much you would value a few seconds alone so you don't have to hold your daughter every time you need to pee. It’s okay, but it’s cumulative. But then you spend 3 hours away from her, and you truly miss her.

I am so scared of dying, I think about it every time I get sick and my body feels out of control, especially if vomiting and chills are involved. It is a fundamental training of Buddhism to contemplate one's own death, and accepting the reality that this will one day happen, and that we do not know how or when it will happen.... this should be the impetus for getting serious about our true purpose in life. Not spending hours a day with our faces buried in a screen, regretting our failed relationships with ourselves and the world around us. But still, I'm so attached to my body working and doing the things I want it to do. My legs won't straighten in Standing Poses anymore.

I just want to be happy, and I don't know how. I don't know anything really, but somehow I know that yoga, practicing and teaching, as difficult and filled with self-doubt both can be at times, is how I will one day arrive in a moment or place of peace. And Opal. 

If I didn't have Opal, I'd attend the Women's March this weekend because I am forever Feminist, even when that label may someday become outdated.

May all beings everywhere know their self worth. May we experience a true savasana.

Love,
Ellen 

Postpartum Practice for Diastasis Recti

DETAIL + DEPTH | A series showing exercises and basic asana modifications for Diastasis Recti.

 

Diastasis recti is the vertical splitting of the rectus abdominus muscle, the muscle that produces the iconic "washboard abs" or "six pack, along its center line. To some degree, it occurs in all women during pregnancy, and can be measured using finger widths. At the end of pregnancy, my diastasis was three finger widths. With the focused work shown in this series, it is now one finger width.

Diastasis recti is a normal function of pregnancy that occurs in order to accommodate the uterus and growing baby, the placenta, and the repositioning of the abdominal organs. Oftentimes it appears in tandem with pubic symphysis diastasis (or SPD, symphysis pubis dysfunction), a separation of the pubic symphysis joint at the anterior pelvis. For some women, the abdominal splitting is relatively minor and does not cause pain or dysfunction, and naturally rejoins after pregnancy. For others, the separation of this superficial abdominal muscle can be uncomfortable or painful and requires focused attention to heal.

The key is to draw the separated abdominal muscles together by first learning to identify and engage the deepest abdominal muscles, the transverse abdominis. This will then allow the superficial "top" muscles of the rectus abdominis to recover in a more functional manner.

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1. To begin, lie on the back with the knees bent and feet at a wall. Place a block between the legs. Elongate the low back without losing its curve and flattening it to the ground. Press the palms into the thighs and straighten the arms. Keeping only the heels on the wall, engage the shin muscle (anterior tibialis) by pulling the toes up toward the knees. Squeeze the block, push the hands into the thighs, and feel as if you can pull the thigh muscles down into the belly. If done correctly, the low back will not further lift away from the floor, nor will the ribs push up toward the ceiling. This can be as light or strong of an action as beneficial.

 

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2. Bring the hands along the side of the body, in cactus/goal post arms, or up overhead (ranked from easiest to most difficult). Keeping the heels against the wall, straighten the legs. Squeeze the block, engage the deep abdominal muscles, and breathe.

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3. For more of a challenge, do this same exercise with the feet off the wall and arms overhead. If there is a bulging of the abdomen, particularly at the site of the diastasis (it can occur at the navel, below or above the navel, or all along the central axis), then this could worsen the separation. It is essential to only increase the load if you are able to safely and effectively do exercises 1 and 2.

 

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4. Once you are able to locate and engage the transverse abdominis muscles, add a twist to the pose to work on the oblique muscles. Squeeze the block and imagine lifting the lower leg up into the upper leg. Draw the navel down and turn the chest. Stay and breathe, then switch sides. Rest as needed.

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-Ellen