Having a baby in 2020 helped me find yoga again in small ways.

Anna Bradley

Some of the most beautiful stories come when people learn something about themselves. In this article from our LIFTS Magazine, Anna Bradley describes how she returned to her yoga practice, even in small ways, with the birth of her first child during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What can I say about the first year of our son’s life? It was amazing and hard for all the reasons everyone always says the first year is amazing and hard. The chaos of 2020 added layers to the experience—the risk of COVID-19 to the baby before and after birth, the possibility my husband could be excluded from the delivery, not having visitors to meet him after he was born, and examining our privilege in light of COVID’s impacts.

There are a lot of what feels like “basic” parenting skills that we still haven’t needed to learn how to do. For example, I have no idea how to take my son through a grocery store successfully because I’ve never tried. There were some benefits in our lives. We were able to keep him home longer than we had expected before sending him to daycare, we got time to get to know each other as a new family, and I reconnected with my yoga practice.

The pause I placed on teaching yoga before getting pregnant to create space in my life had turned into a pause on all things yoga. Having a baby in 2020 helped me find yoga again in small ways. I dusted off favorite books and found mantras that helped me stay calm, like “I am attempting something difficult and I appreciate myself for trying.” Thanks, Judith Lasater!

I stretched and twisted on the floor while hanging out with the baby and threw my legs up the wall while waiting for him to fall asleep at night. I even found time after daycare drop-off for an easy meditation to ground the anxiety of leaving him. For a long time, I wasn’t allowed in the building due to safety protocols. On his first day, I handed him over to someone in a mask that I had never met and they took him behind a locked door, and that was that.

Yoga is more than moving, breathing, and meditating. I created space for ritual in less obviously “yogic” ways that helped me be mindful of my wellbeing. A bath every weekend, making the bed every morning, and lighting a candle when watching TV at the end of the day are all rituals of mindfulness. Rituals help us create a sense of control over our environment, and in 2020 I needed every bit of control I could scrape together.

I’m truly not sure when I’m going to get over the feelings of fear, anger, and hypervigilance I developed during the pandemic. Maybe I would have had those feelings as a new mom anyway. I do know that finding small ways to practice mindfulness and honor the little things in my life have helped. I just needed to be willing to let my practice look different than it did before I was someone’s mom.