I stumbled into my first yoga class at the age of 19, diet and exercise obsessed, too exhausted that day to face the gym's cardio machines.
Oh. A yoga class! That sounds easy.
By the fifth down dog it was clear that I couldn't have been more mistaken. Though I see the irony now, it was my ego that kept me from rolling up the mat and slipping back out the door to the judgement of a machine rather than my mind itself. Finally the postures wound down and we found ourselves laying face up on our mats in the chilly aerobics room. As the teacher spoke about honoring our bodies caring for them like the precious gift they are, I strained to listen over the sound of my heartbeat echoing though me. The ephedrine I had taken with my breakfast of exactly one cup of cheerios with a half cup of 2% milk (not skim because while I was unhealthily obsessed I wasn't a MONSTER) was threatening to make it explode. I wondered if she could hear it too because clearly she was talking to me. Hot tears began to slip from the corners of my eyes and back behind my ears to the borrowed mat, as if the sweat I had left behind wasn't enough.
A few days later my boyfriend was home for a visit and upon seeing a couple of pills on my dresser demanded the bottle. He flushed them down the toilet. I let him.
That was thirteen years ago. One state, countless teachers, two pregnancies, and several thousands of yoga classes ago. A lifetime really.
When I first started, it was the thrill of getting that much closer to balancing in headstand or touching my feet to my head in scorpion that kept me coming back to the mat day after day. Today it's the thrill of an hour where no one needs their butt or nose wiped. And that ship over there barreling toward the horizon? It yanked my feet from my head and took off. The years of leaning forward to hoist, feed, and nurture these babies do not lend themselves to back bending.
It's hard to find time to get to the mat. So you seek to fill the gaps between with the yoga of being a mom.
It's that reach clear into the back seat to retrieve the dropped toy/hand over the bank sticker/deliver a snack.
It's the deep breathing that comes in the middle of your 8 year old's meltdown at the injustice of a sleep over falling through or the 2 year old's meltdown that underwear is not a suitable hat to wear for sledding.
It's the nursing a baby in a sling, while mixing cookie dough with the big kid.
It's the 600th round of the Wheels on the Bus and maybe one of the riders is a warrior and HEY THROW IN A POSTURE.
It's picking up anything you've dropped with your toes, because you're too pregnant and actually bending down to get it might make a baby fall out.
It's kite flying/swing pushing/shoe tying.
It's realizing that much like the dishes in the sink at the end of the day when you're too tired to deal, the mat will be there tomorrow.
If anything, the mat keeps you honest. You can't fight your way into a posture. You breathe yourself there. Parenting is sort of the same way, I think. I strive for honesty in both practices.
Not long ago, a yoga student of mine came to class and enlightened me with, “I saw you with your son at the grocery store the other day. I was going to say hi but then you ran him over with the cart and looked sort of mad, so I didn't.”
If that's not the honest yoga of being a mother, I don't know what is.
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