Parenting in Poses
Ashtanga is my favorite type of yoga practice. It is incredibly vigorous, regimented and dependable. When I practice Ashtanga, I feel strong, graceful, and focused.
I am also the mom of two young boys. William is 3.5 and Nolan is 1.5. Practicing and teaching yoga usually helps me to be a better mom, although, on some days, nothing in the world can bring me the peace and patience that I need.
But then, there is always tomorrow. Just like how Ashtanga Yoga always starts with 5 Sun A’s and 5 sun B’s, the morning always starts with a sippy cup of chocolate milk for William and a bottle of Pea Milk for Nolan.
After the sun A’s and sun Bs are the standing poses. The standing poses are empowering. They make you feel spacious and sturdy, helping you to open your hips, rotate your spine, and prepare you for the seated poses.
In traditional Ashtanga practice, the minute there is a pose you cannot do, you are asked to stop the series, complete the “closing poses” and leave. I definitely wish parenting was more like that. “Oh you’re kid doesn’t want to leave the park? It’s cool, just step away, give everything some time to soften, and come back tomorrow!”
Teaching yoga is a wonderful supplement to my mom life. It gets me out of the house and really works my mind in a different way. I get to play music I love, talk to other adults and move my body. When I teach, my boys stay with our babysitter, my mom, my in-laws or my husband. What happens when I’m not there is that a far less crabby, clingy, needy life goes on.
When I get home I feed them dinner (usually chicken nuggets, cereal or macaroni). Give baths (which include half a cup of bleach for my baby’s eczema, followed by numerous salves and lotions). And then bedtime (brushing teeth, potty, stories), with about 3-4 trips back to their room for various different reasons after. By the time they're asleep (usually around 8) I sometimes roll out my mat to do Ashtanga. Not because that’s what I always want to do be doing, but because both my jobs require me to stay fit, healthy and strong. Also because I've now had two babies and my body's just not what it used to be...
Discipline is a twisted side-angle, jumping to chaturanga from a seated position, five backbend dropbacks, and a headstand. It’s also taking your little one to occupational therapy for being hyperactive, taking the other to the allergist several times a month for food allergies, saying no to the toy section at Target, and putting in your earplugs because no matter how sad it is you know all they really need is to fall the fuck asleep.
My yoga is constipated babies. My yoga is a very allergic child. My yoga is creating a safe happy space. My yoga is making sure they feel loved and important. My yoga is always waking up, always coming back, always keeping them fed, warm, joyous and healthy.
When I practice, I cultivate strength. When I teach, I cultivate presence. And when I parent, I cultivate love. Strength, presence, love. I am not a perfect mom or wife, I am not a perfect teacher or student, but I show up. I roll out my mat, I hit play, and the rest just flows together, in one messy but dependable string of circumstance. Savasana has never felt so good.