When I became a mother, the yoga practice I knew took a hit. Leaving the house suddenly became a lot more complicated. I’m not sure why this came as SUCH a surprise, but I think the word might be naivety. At first I fretted… then I mourned. I missed my little piece of heaven on earth in the form of a rubber mat. I wasn’t sure I could be me without the practice I knew and loved. But slowly I realized that my yoga practice didn’t need to contract, it could take flight and expand into every crevice of my life in a way that I hadn’t imagined (or maybe needed) before.
This is what my new practice looks like:
- I am not bendy anymore. Like at all. When I went back to work after maternity leave, my husband “took” mornings and I “took” evenings with our son, meaning that any physical activity I wanted to complete had to be done in wee hours of the early morning. This does not lend itself to a variety of yoga class choices and so, I found myself running. Every. Single. Day. Truthfully, I find running to be equal to a traditional yoga practice in terms of meditative qualities. I work to find fluidity of the breath, linking my foot strikes with my inhale and exhales. I listen to the birds and the relative silence of the early morning. And I find equal peace from the runner’s high as I do from the savasana glow. What running doesn’t do for me is help with my already tragically tight hips. But it doesn’t matter. Our practice can’t and shouldn’t be measured by the length of our hamstrings.
- Savasana is more of a struggle for me. It’s true. Since having the little one, sometimes, I just can’t shut off the movie in my head. It happens. But one thing I’ve learned is not to beat myself up over it, to forgive myself and to work to find my savasana, my bliss, wherever I can. I count cracks in the sidewalk as I race to a meeting, linking my breaths with the movement. I close my eyes and breathe while lying on the floor with my sleeping toddler. I close my office door and do legs up the wall for a few minutes between conference calls. Quieting the mind should not be contained to our traditional asana practice.
- My home asana practice is what you may call “abbreviated.” I can count on one hand the number of times I have been able to get a full asana practice in at home in the last two years. Every time I start, one of my dependents (human or fur-ball) needs something. I’ve finally accepted this and instead, I forward fold while drying my hair. I play trucks in double pigeon. I build block towers in malasana. I read in bed in supta bhaddha konasana. I sit in hero’s pose to fold laundry… I find my three-part yogic breath in the car while my toddler screams and pulverizes Cheerios in the backseat. There is no rule that your home practice must include five sun salutations to “count.” Being present, being mindful – that is what this is about – living our lives with intention.
As yoga teachers we are constantly reminding our students to find “your” practice. We are all on the same journey. We all have different struggles and challenges that both bring us to our mat and keep us from it. But the reason we keep coming back, in whatever form we can, is always the same – find that moment of peace, that moment of bliss, where we shed the noise of our lives and just BE. My practice, now, as a working mom, is to find yoga in every moment because there simply isn’t time for anything else.
Can you find your yoga practice in an unexpected corner of your life? Can you give your practice wings?