The time came in my adult life when yoga classes no longer served their purpose. I no longer wanted to go to them. It was hard to get there on time. 90 minutes became a rare and precious long time. I simply could not quiet my thoughts while there. “Is this going to over soon? Is my baby okay without me? This feels selfish. I miss my kids.”
In the 15 years before kids, I would get up early and start my day with an ashtanga yoga practice. It was a huge and important part of my life. I went to India, did yoga teacher training, and wrote a yoga blog.
And then I became a mom.
In the ashtanga practice, there are layers of asana “series,” each with physical poses that build on the prior mastered series. Most practitioners don’t get past the 2nd or 3rd series.
The last and final 7th series is little talked about. It feels kind of secret and sacred. It refers to the practice of family life.
We should be honoring the 7th series and giving more voice to the daily yoga practice that comes with mothering. Maybe this will also help ease some of my sadness over the loss of my prior yoga practice in my life.
If we think about it, our kids are probably our best yoga teachers. They give us daily yogic lesson and reminders. For example:
- Be present. Simply observe your kids for a few moments and see how they naturally live perfectly in the present. They aren’t thinking too far in the past or worrying about the future. Just watch them and practice what they’re doing.
- Feel emotions fully. Our kids don’t try to hold back feelings. They freely giggle with joy, squeal with excitement, and strongly cry when hurt or upset. So many of our adult emotions are masked and hidden. What if we practiced expressing them in those moments letting them come and go with ease.
- Smile more. Kids love to smile and laugh and take joy in little things. A slide. A swing. An airplane. A flower. A little red car. Peek-a-boo. Balloons. The world is amazing.
- Let things go. Kids get upset, sometimes reasonably and other times not. After fully expressing those feelings (yelling, crying, throwing themselves on the floor), they let them go. They don’t stay angry and don’t hold a grudge.
- Wake up with the sun. Oh, thank you, our children, for these early morning awakenings. You have beautiful energy, running and ready to start the day.
- Be less selfish. Our kids constantly remind us that it’s not about us anymore.
- Focus less on our physical body. Our bodies withstand a lot of trauma with motherhood… growing and birthing a baby, the lack of sleep and exercise, and the emotional stress that we often carry physically. This is hard on our bodies. It’s helps us practice letting go of our attachment to our physical bodies.
I am sure that one day I will start going back to yoga classes. One day my babies won’t need me like they do now. But for now, I am honoring and practicing 7th series, and my kids are my teachers.