Having a baby, yoga style
Vail CO, Colorado
In August, my husband and I welcomed our first happy baby into the world ” Owen Charles. So this September I offer you Happy Baby Pose, which Owen is often naturally in. What a wild ride, as every parent must know!
Bringing a baby into the world is exhilarating and nutty! And, labor and delivery … what an intense thrill!
Birth is both natural and mysterious, and most certainly unexpected and intense, and it will forever change my viewpoint on life. Life is full of many births and opportunities to begin again. We named our baby Owen in recognition of a long time family friend who greatly impacted our lives and passed away while I was pregnant ” Owen Smith.
Here we are, starting up again this September, another turn of the wheel and the beginning of a new cycle. It’s almost as if this were the reincarnation of last year’s back to school moment. Do you ever get that feeling in September when back to school time and fall rolls around again?
I thought that Happy Baby would be a good pose for us to talk about this month as a way to connect to this cycle of rebirth and renewal. At times in my own life I’ve experienced an unconscious need to be part of this recycling. For example, when our dog Savannah passed away three years ago, I suddenly had a desperate need for a puppy. And, as our friend Owen Smith passed away, we have all felt comforted by the birth of our baby boy.
My husband even feels he has Owen Smith’s eyes. We need to be around new life in order to feel the whole circle and not just a sense of ending.
When I first opened the Mountain Lotus yoga studio, we had Channel 8 and Plum TV record a few classes and as I looked around the room there were a few less desirable poses to be seen in on TV than Happy Baby pose! Happy Baby asana might be called Supta Malasana or Double Wind Relieving Pose in Sanskrit. Some folks even call it Dead Bugs pose because we look like a room full of dead roaches when in the pose.
The worst is when a teacher accidentally mixes up the two and calls the pose Dead Baby pose. For that reason alone, I try to only refer to the pose as Happy Baby! Still, I think it’s interesting that a pose that looks like a dead bug also looks like a new baby ” another reminder, in a kind of a weird way, of the cycle of life.
Our daily yoga practice even expresses this cycle in the sound of OM, which is really made up of the syllables A U M. A is said to be birth and lifting, U is life and sustaining and M is death. As you make this sound with your mouth you can even feel that opening, suspension of space and then closing. And we can feel this with every breath, too, and every movement flow in our asana practice.
There is even a beautiful practice of walking meditation. Walking meditation is a mindfulness practice during which we walk in a circle for about 10 minutes before sitting back down again. The purpose is to allow the body to move and get the circulation going again during long meditation retreats. One of the most interesting aspects of this experience is that as you find yourself turning the same corner again and again, you realize this is about moving forward but not about getting anywhere. There is a continuous sense of familiarity and freshness at the same time.
I encourage you to rest in your September rush and find your way into each breath, each step, each moment of renewal. I invite you to savor the sense of letting go of each exhale.
Kelly Major Heath is the director of Moutain Lotus yoga in the Vail Athletic Club. She writes a monthly yoga column for the Vail Daily. Send comments about this column to email@example.com.