‘I Was More in Tune With My Own Body’
For five years, Sarah Hummer had no explanation for her infertility. With nowhere to place the blame, she and her husband assumed it was stress-related.
She’d recently begun practicing yoga, but was in search of a new studio that provided a more restorative and holistic experience.
‘I was like Goldilocks. I tried all the studios. Yoga del Sol was the last one I went into and I immediately knew this was it. It felt the most like home.’
Still, no baby.
After years working at a marketing and communications firm in Georgetown, Sarah transitioned to a healthcare consulting firm in Tyson’s Corner. But the bigger the practice got, the more corporate it felt. If there was any stress remaining in her life, this was it. Over the next six months, Sarah trained with Diego del Sol to become a Yoga del Sol instructor. She completed the training and began teaching.
‘I was starting to feel my worlds colliding. The yogic teachings—and what starts to come about within you—is more of an intimate understanding of yourself and what drives you. You get more connected to your heart. I had developed a lot more compassion and empathy, not only for others but for what I wanted to do in my own life. I asked myself, what’s my purpose?’
After much deliberation, Sarah decided to quit her job at the consulting firm.
And then, baby.
‘I’m not encouraging anyone to quit their job, but it felt like the last thing for me to try and I think it had a lot to do with it. We did IVF, and I also quit coffee, ate only organic, eliminated plastics, drank all these crazy herb drinks that were really gross, did acupuncture, and—of course—yoga. To get that first positive pregnancy test in my life—it was such an amazing feeling.’
Sarah explored prenatal yoga, using herself as a guinea pig each trimester to determine what her body responded to, and began building her own practice.
‘I want to help other women, because a lot don’t realize that it’s OK to keep exercising,’ says Sarah, who also teaches a weekly class at Bloom, a boutique OB/GYN practice in Tenleytown. ‘They’re scared, especially if they’ve had a hard time getting pregnant.’
After Sarah had her daughter Leigh—now six months old—she felt like she needed yoga the most.
‘Not just from a physical standpoint, but mentally I needed it to stay calm. Having a baby is like no exhaustion you’ve ever felt in your life, but you have to maintain a sense of calm and peace through that exhaustion, because your baby picks up on your energy. If you’re upset, it can make your baby upset. And even just breathing after having a baby is really hard, because all your breathing muscles are connected to your pelvic floor.’
Sarah draws from her own experience as a new mom—and someone who struggled with infertility for years—to teach her yoga students in a way that feels more authentic and personal. She says more and more teacher trainings have become nothing more than memorizing a set of poses and operating from a script. Yoga del Sol and Sarah’s new pre- and post-natal yoga classes both dig deeper.
‘Everyone has challenges they’re facing in their own life, whether it’s a divorce, a sick parent, or work stress. We can all cope and deal with those challenges in a similar way, and that’s where our yoga style comes into play. It helps rewire your brain in a way that helps you calmly take on life’s daily challenges.’
Traditional yogis get up at 4am every morning to take on such challenges, typically practicing for two hours. It’s a beautiful, incredibly unrealistic practice for most people, new moms at the top of the list. Sarah practices daily, but sometimes that means 15 minutes on her mat, or a few conscious breathing exercises.
‘It gets harder when you have more going on in your life, but that’s usually when you need it the most. Personally, if I stop practicing altogether, the old habits start to come back.’
So, too, do the aches and pains. Sarah’s husband is a yoga convert, but stopped attending Sarah’s classes to stay home with Leigh. When his back started seizing up, Sarah showed him how to practice every morning on his own. The pain almost immediately disappeared.
It’s this focus on both mind and body—and the realization that they’re inextricably connected—that speaks to Sarah and so many others, particularly in a city full of noise.
‘Growing up in DC where there are expectations to live your life in a certain way, and trying to uphold those expectations—there are anxieties and tensions that you hold onto. When you work on clearing your mind, breathing, and tying that all through movement, there’s a self-awareness that builds. Your self-awareness deepens and you open your eyes to the things around you. Even something as simple as your breath. Feeling the air on your palms. Listening to the sound of your breath go in and out of your nose.’
And the sound of your baby’s breath.