I’ve been thinking about my relationship with yoga and I’ve decided that I’m not sure that yoga really gets me.
I know what you’re thinking, yoga has been around for thousands of years and while I can argue that I have too, I can also attest to the fact that I often have to stifle my LOL’s when instructors talk, or I stop listening because I’m busy planning my day. I’m sure this is not what I should be doing during class, but I can’t control myself. Which really is the point of going to yoga anyway. But what can I say? Our relationship is complicated.
Practicing yoga is mentally challenging for me for a few reasons:
1 | I only communicate with dense sarcasm and cynical wit.
2 | When my mind is quiet, my “to do” list is loud.
3 | I desperately want to achieve peace, so my inner yogi and my inner mom are at constant odds during my practice.
I mean, during almost every yoga class I decide I’m going to stop drinking coffee and start drinking green tea, never yell at my kids again, and give up wine so I can treat my body like a temple. You know, or some shit like that. Approximately 30 minutes after returning to my family, I’ve already destroyed my temple in an attempt to maintain my sanity.
To be clear, I love my chaotic mom life. I love teetering on the edge of outrageous fun and sudden melt-down. I love making memories and allowing my crazy kids to be crazy!
So, I think I know what parents need. If I was a yoga instructor, I’d teach only moms and dads looking to escape the chaos for an hour. I’d call it Real Yoga for Real Parents, and this is what I’d say:
Come stand at the front of your mat. Breathe in, and allow the thoughts of the day to swirl through your body, but try and keep them in some sort of order. Remember that you’ll get to that stuff, but you won’t get to it right now. Stop making the grocery list. There is no way you’ll remember everything that you are supposed to get right now. And you know you’ll forget the one thing that you really needed anyway. Let the groceries go out with your breath.
Breathe in and allow yourself to be filled with love and gratitude. Be grateful for giving yourself the time to come to yoga today. Be grateful for the love you are receiving from the universe, and from everything. Forget about that time that your child called you a “butty-butt-butt-head.” He didn’t really mean it. And let go of the fact that all you were doing was trying to get him to eat peanut butter toast. That he asked for. Before he realized he wanted a hard-boiled egg exactly like the one you made his sister. In fact, he wanted that exact one.
Allow yourself forgiveness. Yes, forgiveness for not having the foresight to have predicted that whole egg issue. Breathe out love for those tiny little dictators. Empty the breath completely from your body and with it, allow all of your thoughts of toddler frustration to leave you. Just for now. At home, it’s their time. It’s their time back there. Right here it’s your time. It’s your time right here. That’s all over the second you ride your people-wagon back home. (Ha ha! Man, I love The Goonies.)
Breathe in, and let your arms hang at your sides. Turn your palms slightly forward. Drop your shoulders and allow them to separate. Let your collar bones widen and your shoulder blades draw together and roll down your back, as if you’ve never carried a 40 pound sleeping child on your left shoulder for a half mile, just to have them wake up the moment you lay them down on their bed.
Let your shoulders fall away from your ears. Aligning them with your hips, your knees, your ankles. Drop your left hip, which might feel awkward given that you’ve had a baby propped up there for the the past five years. So, you might need to literally push it down. Like, with your hands.
Feel the energy draw down through your legs and through your feet. Draw your arches up, but let the balls of your feet and your heels be grounded. Breathe out and plant yourself in the earth and feel comfort in your connection there. Don’t worry, there are no toys to clean up here, and no spilled milk to wipe off the counter.
When you breathe in, let the silence and peace spread throughout your entire being. Don’t panic. Nobody is behind a closed door spreading your $50 body lotion on the mirror. Well, maybe they are, but if they are it’s clearly not your fault because you are not responsible for them right now, you’re here. At yoga.
As you breathe out, try not to be so pissed. Because the whole lotion thing is obviously your husband’s fault. He’s probably checking some damn sports score instead of playing with his precious children. But listen, you don’t even know if this scenario is real and thus, there is NO need to allow him to ruin this time that you’ve carved for yourself. No sir. He is NOT taking this from you. NOT THIS TOO. Peace, dammit. Breathe it alllll out.
On your next inhale allow a slight smile to cross your lips. Allow your mind to let go of any chatter that gets in the way of attending to your breath. It’s inevitable that you’ll remember an urgent task you absolutely must complete immediately after class is over. But, you don’t even have a crayon to write with right now, so worrying about it for the next hour will only be punishment for yourself. C’mon. How important are those well-child checkups anyway?
On your next inhale, allow that love to spread throughout your whole body. Give yourself permission to allow your mind to wander during your practice, but assure yourself there is nothing different that you should be doing right now except what you ARE doing. Which is yoga. Remember? Breathe in and breathe out. You’re just doing yoga. That’s it. Come on, now. Seriously. You can do this. You can only think about this. Shh. You don’t hear a baby crying. Shhh. That’s a mirage.
You made it through the whole practice and you did it for yourself. I’m so proud of you. I know it’s hard, but it’s time to return to the busy-ness of being a mom/dad/human. In those moments when you feel like no one is listening to you – even though you have calmly repeated yourself 5 times, and your child still hasn’t put on their fucking socks – try and remember this moment.
Channel your inner Zen, look deeply into your kid’s eyes and say, “Please put your socks on.” one more time. Then, inhale and exhale for good measure.
You did it. You are so rad.