Yoga for Moms With Postpartum Depression: Transform Your Pain into Purpose

We’ve come a long way as a society when it comes to recognizing, understanding, and supporting women with postpartum. We are also a ways off from evolving past the patriarchal paradigm where a man in a relationship calls the shots because he earns money. In contrast, the woman stays home with the kids and performs household responsibilities.

However, there is still a long way to go.

There are a lot of women still struggling with postpartum, a relationship, or family situation where they are limited in their ability to pursue their dreams because of finances or beliefs . . . or of course, there are many women, like this one, who struggled with (but overcame) both. 

For respect for her husband and to protect her family’s privacy, this newly certified yoga teacher asked to be kept anonymous, but her identity doesn’t matter, as I’m sure you either know someone experiencing the same things or if you’re reading this, perhaps this woman is telling your story. Either way, you’re sure to be inspired by this woman’s determination and triumphant story of overcoming postpartum and suppression with and through yoga. 

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Yoga teacher guiding moms with babies on their laps through a yoga practice.

How Yoga Helped Me Transform My Postpartum Into My Purpose

Q: What’s your demographic?

A: I’m in my mid 30’s and a mom of two toddlers.

Q: And do you have a job back home?

A: Currently, I’ve just been home with just the baby. I left my job when we were planning to have our second because my job wouldn’t have paid for daycare for both of them.

Q: I know a lot of moms are in that same situation. So right now we are at Blue OSA Yoga and Retreat Center in Costa Rica and you are doing the two-week 200 hour yoga teacher training. Can you tell me how you got here and why you wanted to do a yoga teacher training in the first place?

A: When I had the kids, it was tough with my first one to leave her, but we tried for a little while. I had a not-for-profit job that I loved and that I was really good at but it didn’t pay enough for baby care. So when we knew we were going to have a second, it just didn’t seem worth it. So I stayed home and I feel really fortunate that I could stay home and that my husband had enough financial income to support that choice. 

But then I experienced some major shifts. We had moved out of the city to buy a house after we had my daughter so just picking up moving and then not having the job made me feel really cut off from all of my friends.

Between that and the shift in my body from the pregnancies, I just felt like I had no identity left. I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror anymore.

After my second, I had postpartum depression and just the whole lacking identity thing got me to a point where I was so lonely and I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore that I was like, well, I know I used to enjoy yoga and I felt 1000 steps behind where I had been before my body changed. But I thought I’d give it a try because I just didn’t know what else to do. 

I had started getting into a routine and there was one day in particular I was doing some kind of a forward bend and I had this really spiritual experience. It was just like what they keep talking about here (at Blue Osa’s 200 hour YTT training) of truly being present where there is no attachment to anything else. There was only that moment. And I don’t really know how to describe it, but I realized that, oh, this is yoga

A mom doing a down dog yoga pose over top of her baby in a field.

All this time I’ve had an asana practice, I thought it was just about poses which is what a lot of people think, but that’s just like saying you are just your arm. So in that moment of being that present I realized it was the first time since before my kids that I was like, here I am, this is me. 

I had found myself and I knew other moms who were dealing with the same issues because we had been complaining about it to each other so I was like, hey guys, I just experienced this and I know that you’re dealing with stuff with your kids too and that you also feel isolated and that you can’t get the kind of attention that you need. 

At the time we just started coming out of the pandemic, which was personally a slower process for me and also another reason I stayed home. My newborn was born at the beginning of the pandemic and he’s immune-compromised. So it took us a year and a half just to figure out what his health needs were to be able to then re-emerge into the world. 

“So I was really stuck for a long time. And talking to these moms and realizing even after COVID and trying to get out in the world, that they too still felt isolated, ignored, unseen, and not even knowing themselves or what to do for themselves.”

So I told them about my experience that I just had, and said let’s try this together. And we did that for like three or four months, and one by one they started coming to that same sort of experience themselves.

I had been practicing for six or seven years, minus the time that I was pregnant so I would just ask them what they needed, or I would know what was going on and would send them the resources and yoga routines that I thought that they could really use.

And so after doing this (practicing yoga as a group) and all of us talking about not only our own experiences, but how we were able to see each other’s experiences, they said to me, you should really teach and I was like, no, we were just having fun and I don’t know what I’m doing and I really didn’t want to hurt anyone by not having any training. But then I was thinking about it and I was like, you know, nobody else is reaching this demographic. This is still an unseen demographic.

Q: And just to be clear, by this demographic, you mean moms.

A: Yes, moms. Pregnant moms get a lot of attention and help, especially with firstborns, even when you have a newborn but then people just kind of disappear into their own worlds. We no longer live in a communal type of culture these days.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child but if you’re not paying for the village, you don’t have one.”

When you’re stuck in that position, people will say the things that you need to do is self care, exercise and eat right but you can’t, I mean, I couldn’t even take a shower. I couldn’t have a break. I couldn’t go for a walk when I just needed to get out of the house, away from the situation. I can’t just leave my one year old and newborn in the house to get some quiet, let alone take care of myself and my body and so to recognize also, that this is what yoga is supposed to be. Rather than just this series of exercises, that there was a way of weaving the self-care in between other things, and I had the opportunity to share that with people and so I did that. 

But there were still more women that needed that so I was like, I haven’t heard anyone else really targeting these women and I decided I want to work with women in their prenatal, postnatal stages or postpartum stages up until their kids are in school. Because when you don’t have a babysitter, you can’t get anywhere so I thought, we can find a way. If a mom always has the baby on the hip, okay, take the baby on the hip to yoga. We’ll figure it out and that’s what got me wanting to come here (to Blue Osa’s two week 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training). 

Q: And what was it like getting here?

A: I grew up Catholic, very Catholic, and I’m Latina, so even more Catholic and cultural. My grandfather was a deacon, my mom teaches CCD classes on Mondays because Sunday is church day. And the Pope had said to Catholics that they should not practice yoga and my family has really taken that to heart and were not supportive about me coming here. 

And then my husband and I, especially, you know, with COVID, having a sick newborn and having been isolated, we were having our own marital issues. So stress was already there and the idea of me leaving him with the kids for a few weeks to go somewhere, he just had a lot of resistance to that, especially resistance to the finances of it. 

We’re a single income family and my job is making sure that the money doesn’t get spent and cutting expenses wherever we can, where he brings the money.”

My idea was that if you invest in me, I can then have this job that I can now work around the kid’s schedule and we don’t have to make any of those other changes. Whatever I make is extra. But he just really struggled to let that go because I wasn’t the one working and I was so stressed out being the sole caretaker of the kids because he worked during the day and his job is demanding. And so, I had just kind of given up and just gave him all authority over the finances assuming that he was making the best decisions for all of us. That was his job. We had split responsibilities in this way. 

Three moms in all four position on their hands and knees looking over their babies on yoga mats.

It was something that I had agreed to not realizing what that would mean later when I tried to take some of my power back. And so when I told him that I wanted to come (to a two week 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training) he told me no. And I said, what do you mean no? I’m an adult woman in charge of myself and we had always been in agreement that we’re partners. 

He had all these excuses as to why but they really were excuses. And he had said something hurtful that I think was untrue. Something about how I wouldn’t be able to make it through and that I would fail and it was going to be a waste of his money. And so even though he came back to me apologizing afterwards, saying, we’ll figure out a way to make this work, I realized that I just really had to do this on my own and for myself. I didn’t want him to have his hands on it. And so I said, no, I get it, whatever this is, this is mine.

“I want to do this for me. So I’m going, and I am going to do this for me.”

But I still didn’t have income and I’ve always had a hard time asking for help. I love to be there to help other people and to be a resource to other people but I struggle very hard asking for help, especially when I know that other people are dealing with so much. So there was a lesson in that for me, a challenge I had to overcome. Then to start crowdfunding also challenged my ego a little, but I did it, I tried to get it out there as much as I could. 

Q: Did your husband know?

A: Yes, he did know, especially when you know, I had to make plans for what was going to happen with the kids because he wouldn’t be able to take that much time from work.

“So I let him know what was going on, but I told him, I didn’t ask him.”

So it took me a year of fundraising, I did think initially that my family would step up to support me because, you know, they’re family but they didn’t, so that was hard but also something that I had to work through and learned a lot from and grew from. I grew thicker skin from it. But then people that I barely knew in college were donating, even strangers were donating. So did some friends and community members but it was really people that were mostly acquaintances. It was really amazing. 

Q: So had you known you wanted to come here to Blue Osa when you were fundraising?

A: I didn’t know where I was gonna go, how much funding I got was really going to determine where I would be able to go. And then when I met my goal, I was like, oh cool, I could go anywhere, but at home all of the programs were either part time or on weekends for a year. And it took me a year to fundraise, right? I wasn’t gonna wait another year especially when I knew people in my life were actively working against me. 

“And full time programs were four weeks, just for the 200 hours and I was like, there’s no way. There’s no way I want to be away from my children that long, and I would never find someone to stay with them for that amount of time. So I found Blue Osa when I looked specifically for the 200 YTT in a two week period.”

I also came up with Bali, Hawaii and California but with the cost of the flight the rest of them were really unfeasible. 

A mom and her child sitting side by side in a cross legged meditation pose over looking a sunset over the ocean.

And then I started looking more into the program here (at Blue Osa) and learned that this was also an Eco plan, it was just something that really resonated with me. I was actually a little afraid it wasn’t real because as I was reading it I was like, it just was so picture perfect, but I read so many good reviews online I was like okay, all right. And then Yogi Aaron seems like a real person and we were emailing and stuff and so I was like, okay, I think this is real and I really liked it. And then my husband did end up really coming around and being really supportive. And he really liked Blue Osa as well.

Q: Amazing. And would you recommend the two week 200 hour yoga teacher training at Blue Osa to other moms in your situation?

A: Yeah, especially when it comes to scheduling. I couldn’t do it for more than two weeks. It’s a lot of work and a lot of prep work before coming here. But the fact that we were given three months prior access to all of the coursework made a huge difference so that I could take that time to get a lot of information out of the way and read some of the books. 

Q: Do you have anything else you feel like you want to add? Anything else that you feel you want to share?

A: Yes, there is something. As a mom who has to sit through Disney movies on repeat all the time, this is something that I’ve been saying to other moms who, like me, struggled with the idea of leaving my kids home and trying to make these decisions for myself without negatively impacting anyone in my family. 

So I’m watching all these Disney princesses, you know, Frozen and Moana and they’re always these young characters that don’t have responsibility to anyone but themselves and so they have the freedom. So I was watching Moana with my kids and she’s singing about the horizon, “where the sky meets the sea, it calls me” and she knows she’s not allowed to leave her island because she’s the chief’s daughter. She’s supposed to be the next leader and she has been told by her father, “no”. He told her to never venture out to the sea but she just feels like she’s supposed to be on the sea, but she also wants to be the perfect daughter. And so she has that struggle, and then she made the decision to leave and it’s something that stuck with me. 

I think it really helped me to eventually make the decision to stick with my convictions, knowing that there was more on this path. You know, it would have been the apocalypse (in the movie) if she said “I’m gonna listen to the authority in my life and reject the message I have for my heart.” And so I was like, well, what if she did reject her heart’s calling but learned, hey, the apocalypse is coming and you have one more chance.

“And that’s kind of where I felt like I was, you know, my own personal crisis was coming in on the storm cloud in the distance and I was like, hey, you have this opportunity now. Like, that’s ok if you didn’t take it before. Do this now and make it work, especially knowing that if you’re a better person, your family will be better for it.”

For more resources on how yoga can help with postpartum and depression read the Efficacy of Yoga for Depressed Postpartum Women by The National Institute of Health and Yoga and Postpartum Depression by The Yoga Institute.

To learn more about Blue Osa’s two week 200-hour yoga teacher training, click here or please feel free to contact us with any of your questions, it would be our honor to support you on your journey back to your Self.

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