jessica-gAfter her first yoga class Jessica Gebhards left thinking, “I’m just not made to be a yoga student.”

Years later, she’s still practicing at Maya Yoga and her practice is one of the most important parts of her day.

What changed her mind? After class, “I had the sudden realization that it was my first work out… possibly ever… that I didn’t think about my job.”

As a physician, Jessica works long hours and takes her work home with her.  She used to use her nightly runs as an opportunity to mentally review her patient load.  It was constant.  “I spent my evenings going through cases, wondering if I did enough, if my diagnosis was correct, or whether I made the right call.  [But] after leaving Maya Yoga, I realized my mind had turned off to external stressors, I spent the entire practice focusing on the poses (mainly to avoid harming myself or those around me!), but that was enough to make me realize that I may just be a yoga person!

Since this realization, Jessica’s practice has changed, evolved, and grown.  One of Jessica’s biggest challenges and also best experiences with her Ashtanga practice was how pregnancy changed her relationship with the poses.

Her pregnancy allowed her to “let go of the asanas and focus on the internal benefits of yoga.”  And even though the poses felt strange and even painful at times with her new baby bump, Jessica craved the primary series and found solace in the freedom that the Mysore Style class offered her.

“I injured my back very early on in the first trimester.  I felt defeated and once again thought, ‘I’m just not made to be a yoga student.’  [However,] I was honest with my injury and began making adjustments in my practice to accommodate my growing belly.  My back began to slowly heal.  I was paying attention to muscle groups I had never noticed before and was focusing on small adjustments in each pose to help bring my back into better alignment – I never felt stronger.  Each week, I would let go of a few asanas and make adjustments in the current asanas in order to continue my practice.  By the time I was in the third trimester, my practice was full of modifications and adjustments, and many of the poses were omitted.  I would be lying if I said that wasn’t hard – my ego was constantly inserting itself in my practice, making it very difficult for me to let go of the asanas.  It took several weeks for me to listen to my body and realize that it was no longer my own, but had been taken over by the infant growing inside of me!  After this realization, my ego slowly disappeared and my iron clad grip on the asanas finally opened up.”

As a mother, Jessica’s experience of yoga transformed once again. “My practice now focuses on keeping my arms strong so I can hold my son for hours and keeping my heart open so I can experience motherhood to its fullest. I love that my son is growing up watching his Mom take care of herself, mentally and physically.”

Jessica is stronger, both emotionally and physically, because of her yoga practice.  She learned that to be the perfect yoga student, she had to make her yoga uniquely hers.  She learned the pivotal lesson about Ashtanga Yoga:  “It is a breathing, living form that changes and evolves depending on what the practitioner needs at that moment.”

Are you made to be a yoga student?