The Yoga of Motherhood
I recently read the greatest article in Australian Yoga Life about the yoga of motherhood. It was the article I’d been writing in my head for the past 14 months. I highly recommend dashing out to the shops and buying a copy now.
For years when students have complained to me about how they haven’t got time for yoga now that they are parents I always have the same reply which is along the lines of ‘you’re just in a different stage of your yoga journey at the moment, this is the yoga of motherhood’. I always meant what I said but I never really understood it. Now I understand.
Before my son came into my life I was a free spirited yoga adventurer. I went to class at least once a day, taught most days, went to workshops, retreats, festivals overseas, trainings here there and everywhere, life was one big yoga buzz and I rode high on it.
Then life changed ever so slightly.
Or more accurately, Kali came to town and turned my whole life inside out and danced her wild dance until nothing of the life I remembered was there anymore. Ladies and Gentlemen I introduce Cyclone Frank.
My son. My heart. My life. The one who deprived me of sleep for 8 months (and I’m talking 2-3 hours sleep a night on a good night), the boy who cried for hours as a baby with no clue as to why and now the toddler who was running by 11 months, climbing by 12 months and has just worked out how to open doors at 14 months.
And what about me? My yoga body was a little bit wobbly (partly from the vast quantities of maltesers I ate throughout my pregnancy), my pelvic floor was WEAK, little puffs of noisy air came out whenever I tried to lunge (sorry for the detail), I felt sick all the time from lack of sleep, emotionally I was fried and jittery, I jumped to the negative outlook before I even considered the positive and now, although all of that is behind me, life with a toddler is relentless. I spend my days just trying to keep him alive despite his best attempts to give me heart failure at least five times a day.
As a yoga teacher I have always been passionate about teaching the philosophy and spirituality of yoga and yet when I needed its teachings the most, I seemed to forget it all. It wasn’t until I returned to teaching full time when Frank was about six months old, that I started to teach myself at the same time.
So what is the yoga of motherhood? It’s surrender. In the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita this concept comes up a lot. Ishvara Pranidhana. Strictly speaking this means surrender to and love for the divinity within each and every soul. Devotion to God.
In terms of motherhood, my translation of it is ‘complete surrender to, and love for the divinity within your child (even when they are acting like something from a horror movie)’.
It means totally letting go of how I think I SHOULD do something, my mantra for motherhood is ‘whatever works’ and as any open minded mother will tell you, what works for one child may not work for another. And while Mama support is essential, good Mama advice always starts with ‘what worked for me is…’, never ‘this is the right way/the only way’.
It also meant from very early on surrendering to the fact that Frank is the boss of me. He has me by the balls. He is a creature of routine, sadly he is not the dream baby I wished for who can travel everywhere in a baby carrier and sleep dreamily on my chest. He thrives on routine, which means Mama can’t have the social life she wants and Mama can’t travel far at all without stuffing it all up and going through weeks of pain to reset.
It means when I’m having a low day, and motherhood feels totally relentless, I surrender to the knowledge that sometimes being a Mama sucks but tomorrow will be different. It’s usually at the point around 4pm when Frank is hanging off my yoga pants wailing for the knife I’m chopping veggies with that I won’t let him play with. I take a a deep breath, I sit on the floor with my heartbroken samurai-seeking son and kiss him. Kiss his belly and his ears and his nose. And I squeeze him because even though he is driving me insane, he is the most divine creature I know.
I Surrender to the knowledge that life will never be the same again. I have lost my independence. I will never put myself and my needs first. I will not be travelling to festivals and workshops and trainings several times a year. I will be ruled by laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, playing, caring and nurturing. I will become a master juggler and fit more into my day than I have ever done before. And then I will do it all again. For this little baby Krishna in my life will teach me more than any teacher who has been before. OM to that.