Welcome to Mama Bōdhi, a blog series where we chat with the most inspiring mamas about the extraordinarily transformative experience of motherhood. This week, we chatted with our friend Courtney Jay, a writer, yoga instructor, sustainable living advocate, and the founder of Coincide, an online wellness platform. A new mother, Courtney lets us in on the evolution of her yoga practice, how her writing informs other areas of her life and the joyful surprises of motherhood.
IMBŌDHI: How has your relationship with your body evolved during and following your pregnancy?
Courtney: "During pregnancy, I was deeply connected to my body—its needs, how to nourish and give it comfort. After pregnancy, however, my relationship with my body has been a process of re-building.
I knew the postpartum period would be a time of healing both emotionally and physically. What I was not prepared for was how long this process would take. For weeks after giving birth, I found myself feeling a sense of disassociation from my physical body. My mind seemed to only be able to connect with my baby's physical body and her needs. Finally, after the first month, I started connecting back into my own body again. Recognizing it as my own without a baby inside and separate from the baby that was now outside (it's all really trippy if you think about it.)
Now that I'm 4-months postpartum, I'm grateful to say I'm back to understanding my body again. I'm so proud of what this body has done and continues to do. "
IMBŌDHI: What was the biggest surprise that came with new motherhood?
Courtney: "The biggest surprise has been how fast babies develop. Everyone says it goes by quickly but I never understood what that meant. Now I understand that it's the speed at which a baby develops is what makes it feel like it's going by quickly. I'm amazed watching her experience the world in a new way every day."
IMBŌDHI: How have your yoga and writing practices transformed since becoming a mother?
Courtney: "I love this question because both yoga and writing have gone along with me throughout my entire journey and I’m so grateful for that. But as a new mom, I’m noticing once again, these two things I use as tools to keep me grounded are yet again transforming.
Yoga has continued to be such an important tool for connecting back to my body. Though it's taken a lot of time to come back into my yoga practice. The relationship I have with yoga these days is recognizing the places where my body, mind, and breath need more support. Connecting to the practice in an even more mindful way is how it has transformed.
When I was pregnant, I developed a prenatal yoga program to support moms-to-be. I’m so excited to share, I’m in the process of creating a postnatal program! Creating this program will be such a powerful way for me to honor how my practice has transformed and where I want to take it.
As for writing, it's been difficult to find the time to write with a new baby. I’m still learning how to create time and space. Waking up early in the morning to write has been one way I’ve been able to find the focus I need."
IMBŌDHI: How does yoga lend itself to motherhood or vice versa?
Courtney: "This is such a beautiful question and I have a simple answer: both call on us to find our center."
IMBŌDHI: What do the experiences have in common, and how do they inform one another?
Courtney: "Yoga is the practice of linking breath with movement to connect us to the place where our mind, body, and spirit converge. Mothering is the most advanced test of this practice. I’ve found when I’m mothering from this powerful place of center, I’m able to connect to my strength, my intuition, and my heart to guide me. Yoga holds my hand in this journey of motherhood."
IMBŌDHI: How do you find a balance between caring for others and caring for yourself?
Courtney: "Though I’m still finding this balance, self-care has remained a top priority for me. On days when I don’t have “time” to take a shower, I notice how it affects my mood. But on the days that I shower, brush my hair, and put on something that makes me feel good, it can change my whole day.
These small acts of honoring myself help to honor those around me, including my daughter. It's also important for me to model this kind of care for my daughter. To teach her that self-care is not selfish but a priority for honoring our being."
IMBŌDHI: How has motherhood served to deepen other relationships in your life?
Courtney: "In many ways, motherhood has humbled me. This humbling has opened my eyes to a deeper sense of love, compassion, and empathy. Motherhood has shown me how to love more fully, without boundaries or constraints, and to simply guide with love."