Yoga has the power to change us. And recently, I realized that it's this practice that has the power to help me become a better mom.
I've practiced and taught yoga for years, and have learned that it can show us who we really are, underneath our worries and the day-to-day grind. It can reveal what's important, and what's not. It can help us find a clear path to the things we want in life. It can teach us about being absorbed in every moment as they come, revealing to us that our entire reality exists in the ever changing present.
Yoga taught me how to breathe.
Sounds silly because well hey, we all know how to breathe. But mindful breathing taught me how to slow down. To feel my body. To be aware of my thoughts. To love and appreciate who I am. To tune everything out, and go inward. On my mat, I have learned to understand when I need to stop the physical movement, and have mastered the difference between pushing myself and listening to myself. It's a fine line, and I know my limits when it comes to the practice. I have learned how to sit in a child's pose in the middle of a class, even while twenty people around me are still doing the poses. And I do that simply because I need a break.
But I think I lost myself somewhere between pregnancy, birth and a baby. I'd lost my ability to slow down, to take that needed break and how to usher out unwanted thoughts and overloaded amounts of negative energy.
A few nights ago, I took a wonderful yoga class, one that allowed me to truly clear my cluttered head and unravel a few things, for the first time since before pregnancy.
And during class, an incredible thing happened: I became connected again and understood that yes, I can take a break both on my mat and as a mom.
Staying home as a mother, my job seems to never end; I'm sure working mothers feel the same way. It seems there is always more more more to do.
I lost giving myself permission to stop and gained a feeling of guilt towards everything.
I feel guilty when I sit on the couch and watch a TV show while the baby naps. I feel guilty for napping myself. I feel guilty if I don't cook dinner. I feel guilty if I save folding clothes for tomorrow using the “dewrinkle" option. I feel guilty if I didn't leave the house that day, or skipped the dog's walk. I feel guilty if I choose to spend the little monthly income I make from teaching yoga on something for myself. I feel guilty when I sit to eat lunch, knowing my husband is so busy at work, he cannot do the same. I feel guilty about my hair thinning post pregnancy hormones. I feel guilty about the slight stretch marks on my inner thighs.
As I laid on my back at the very end of class in final relaxation, all my worries cleared by breathing continuously for an hour, I understood that guilt—both physical and mental—is not good to hold onto. And how freeing it feels to know I'm not defined in my “motherlyness" by how clean I keep my house, by how many dinners I cook, by how thick my hair is or thin my body.
What makes me a good mother is loving my child. And this my friends, we were bred to do.
We know how to do it if we would just listen to ourselves. If we would just love ourselves a little more. If we were able to take it easy when we needed a break. If we would just let go of what we are told and all the expectations. If we could just mother, in each moment as each moment comes—without guilt, without shame, without doubt—we would all be the best version of ourselves, giving our kids the best parent we can be.
So mamas, go to work or stay at home, clean and fold, kiss and read: YES. But to do all that with a feeling of guilt dragging us down—even despite all we do as mothers today? NOT A MOMENT MORE.
This is what yoga taught me.