Growing up I was the kid in the pool with a t-shirt on over my bathing suit. I've been self-conscious of my body for as long as I can remember. As an adult, I'm that person in the pool that unknowingly has a booger in their nose or mascara running down their face because I forgot to put the damn waterproof stuff on. This is because I'm a pasty white Canadian who can only be found in a swim suit a handful of times during the year; beach weather is short lived in my part of the country, and indoor pools are not where I can be found. The point is, I've never had confidence in a bathing suit because I'm self-conscious of my body and it's worse after having two pregnancies. But I'm working on it.
By 'working on it' I mean Self Love. That's right; capital S, capital L, Self Love. It's a very simple concept, but also, an extremely powerful one. In Yoga, sometimes the goal of the practice is to find a connection to our 'highest self'; that part of you that only knows love and joy. And so we practice Yoga with compassion, joy and gratitude; bringing these feelings into action through the vehicle of poses/postures/movements, and we start to see that our true self – our highest self – is in fact love. We choose compassion when moving through asanas (poses), offering our bodies the right amount of stretch and movement it needs that particular day. We choose joy when holding the poses; breathing in 'the good stuff', and breathing out the stuff that no longer serves us. And we choose gratitude, often in the stillness of Corpse Pose, feeling thankful for the movement that just occurred in our body, having gratitude for all that our body does for us all day long. When we find our highest self, we find Self Love.
But maybe we don't have time for a Yogic journey. Maybe the only journey we have time to take these days is preschool drop off, the grocery store and (please, Jesus) the liquor store. Fear not – there are lots of other ways to find Self Love. If you know me or have ever attended one of my Yoga classes you would know that I'm a firm believer in subtle actions having power, and intentional practice being the most effective way to do it. It's the same when working with Self Love; subtle and intentional brings incredible results. You also need consistency. After all, we've had a whole lifetime learning how to not love ourselves and our bodies; being consistent will work in our favour when getting into the habit of loving ourselves up. Let's get to it!
When finding an affirmation that works, you gotta dig deep. An affirmation is a subtle but intentional way to bring some Self Love into your life. So you want something simple and something that actually means something to you. I'm talkin' feel it in your belly, light a fire under your arse. And then you need to say it EVERY DAY.
Do you see where I'm going with this? It can be done in passing when you catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror. It can be done at a certain time every day. But you gotta do it. You need to affirm in your beautiful mind that every inch of your body is beautiful too.
The Kali Mudra
I'm all for a good Mudra; Mudras are subtle and definitely intentional. A Mudra is a hand gesture or hand position that represents something meaningful. You can use Mudras when you practice Yoga, or when you're simply sitting....unless you're a mom and you rarely get to sit, then I would recommend pulling this bad boy out from where ever you're standing in the moment when you feel like screaming “SERENITY NOW!!!”.
The Kali Mudra is to be used when you're looking to destroy some unnecessary baggage (low self-esteem anyone? Self-destructive thoughts much?). Kali is a fierce goddess representing transformation. She wants you to become the ultimate best version of you. The kick ass person you truly are deep down; the Self Lovin' person you were born to be.
To find this Mudra, tightly link your fingers together, leaving the index fingers pointing outwards. Cross the left thumb over the right thumb to represent dominant female energy (left side of the body is known to represent the feminine qualities). Then take a big deep breath and think about how awesome you and your incredible body are. *see image below
And there you have it. Two simple, yet effective ways to conjure up some Self Love and destroy that self-conscious voice that tells you to put on a t-shirt over that bathing suit. Stop comparing yourself to others and LOVE yourself up. Be good and kind to yourself. Cue the characters from Parks and Recreation: “Treat yo Self!”. Because in the end it all comes down to how you see and love yourself. So why not take a meander down the path of Self Love; you've got nothing to lose except that grimace when you see yourself in the mirror and that t-shirt weighing you down in the pool.
Like a lot of Mamas, I use to pee myself. A little dribble here (ah-choo!), a little dribble there (cough cough), and way too much while playing hop scotch with my little girl, or breaking into a light jog. I decided enough was enough; I didn't want to live in wet undies or support the pantiliner industry any longer. I made an appointment with a Physiotherapist and never looked back.
Here are a few things I have Iearned about the pelvic floor after two pregnancies, seeing a physiotherapist who specializes in the pelvic floor, and reading some fabulous resources:
-Millions of women in North America suffer from urinary incontinence. We all joke about it but it can be inconvenient, embarrassing and socially crippling.
-Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) allows the pelvic organs to rest heavily on the pelvic floor, limiting proper contraction of the pelvic floormuscles and can cause or increase urinary incontinence.
-Most of us are not doing Kegels properly or effectively. If in doubt, seek out a health care professional trained in pelvic floor muscle assessment to evaluate your exercises. Don't be shy!
-There are food and drinks that are bladder irritants. They can be different for individual folks and you'd be surprised what the common ones are.
-The hormone estrogen plays a major role in the abilities and strength of the bladder base and urethra. Guess who has a lack of estrogen? Breastfeeding women!
-You not only need to know how to effectively contract the pelvic floormuscles, but also how to FULLY relax them.
-If you are experiencing symptoms of a weak pelvic floor (incontinence, decrease in sexual satisfaction - to name a few) it can be fixed!! With a little effort, education and guidance you'll be good as new. Heck, probably even better than before.
We need to keep the doors of communication open about this. It's not something that you just live with because it's a 'natural consequence of pregnancy'. Seriously, it can be fixed, I'm living proof!
Here are a couple of books I found super helpful:
Jenny Rolls is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT 300+), a Military Wife and Mama of two, living in New Brunswick, Canada. She has studied, trained and become certified in Kripalu Yoga, Yin Yoga and Prenatal/Postnatal Yoga. Jenny believes that any amount of Yoga, no matter how little or lengthy, is 100 times more powerful when done with intention. Pick a simple intent, get into a pose, and become a more content, happy Mama. Or, just have another glass of wine - whichever today calls for.