Being a parent is beautiful, scary, rewarding and amazing. It is such a personal experience, and its meaning and impact are different for everyone. But, for most it is an ever-changing journey.
Much of the same can be said for my growing love and dedication to the practice of yoga. Maybe that's why these two powerful forces have begun to overflow into each other, humbling me, constant with lessons that bring more joy at times than I can believe.
From being more present to how I manage my days and just plain feeling happier, yoga has taught me some amazing lessons:
1. Yoga makes me slow down, be more aware and in the moment.
Coming from a background of aerobics and running, I was used to exercise being about pushing myself to be faster or go harder. For yoga, I had to really train my body and mind to slow down, to focus in a calm way and be completely present in the moment. This same mindfulness helps me be more present for my son, to notice and appreciate the fun moments in our day and enjoy simple pleasures like periods of quiet when they come. I can also take a step back from the nagging to-do list and the “go go go” mentality that’s so common.
2. I've learned to stay open when things get tough.
Practicing difficult or challenging poses has given me a new understanding of how my body reacts to stress and discomfort. Being able to bring that awareness to everyday life situations like dealing with a cranky, tired toddler and helping my son with his own frustrations has been invaluable. If I am tense, frustrated and angry, he feels that too. When I focus on relaxing instead of tensing up and approach situations with the intention to stay open, things can feel easier and go much smoother – on and off the mat.
3. The difficult moments do not last.
When I stay with a pose, arms shaking, muscles strong and hold for one more breath before releasing into a rewarding bend, I always feel stronger for it. It's a great reminder and one I deeply appreciate; the difficult moments do not last. The only constant is change. Tough poses, bad days, bad moods, nights of little sleep spent in a rocking chair with a sick child or stress from defusing the fifth tantrum of the day, it's all just passing weather. Knowing these moments are only temporary can help remove their power to cause dread or fear.
4. Every day is different and that's okay.
Even when repeating some of my favorite asanas, every day of my practice is different. Some days are flowing; my body seems to just know what to do and performs without much effort. Others, I'm wobbly and muscles complain more than cooperate. But, I stick with it, and I'm always glad I did. I learn that I can't control everything, even my own body and practice. I just have to let go and do my best. Any mother will tell you: the unexpected and unpredictable become the norm after you have children. Every day is different, not always easy and never perfect – and it's all okay. None of it means failure; it's all a journey.
5. You don't have to be perfect; you just have to show up.
Women tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves, especially when it comes to being a parent. When you have a baby, no one gives you a book with all the answers, but many times, we expect to know exactly what to do at all times and how to handle any situation that arises flawlessly. This just isn't possible, and it's a huge relief to realize and embrace. Within motherhood and yoga, I am always a student, trying to stay open to the lessons of the moment and possibilities all around us.
Just when I think I've got everything down, I realize I don't. And it's a beautiful feeling.