Those who knew me pre-kids, were probably well aware of my interest and passion for yoga. They were also probably conscious of how often I practiced and how this was very important to my well being. I'm not going to lie - it's been a hard practice of accepting all the changes that parenthood brings to my life. But it's also been extremely deep and rewarding. It's brought me so much further into my yoga practice, way beyond the physical and deep into my core and my heart.
Here's 3 big areas that parenting and my yoga practice have taught me. Of course, all these areas were well known to me prior to having kids. However, they have now become majorly emphasized.
"Life offers us just what it offers, and our task is to bow to it, to meet it with understanding and compassion. There are no laurels to acquire. (Kornfield, p.134)."
After the Ecstasy the Laundry, is the name of a book by Jack Kornfield. I return to this title so often. Essentially, the title is referring to the fact that life is not constant euphoria. After the carefree highs, of love, of birth, of first smiles, first foods, and so on, we have to face the piles of laundry, the dishes, the diapers, the crying... But we have the choice on how we face these "chores" and struggles. Do we face them with dread and disappointment, or do we really give ourselves over to these moments? It's so easy to get caught up in the daily grind, the never ending repetition of these tasks. Approaching them in a slightly different mind frame can help. Pay attention to each fold of fabric, how it feels on your skin, the colours, the shapes...essentially, approach as your children do - a new experience, a game, a joy, even. It's certainly not "easy", but I promise it can make it so much more bearable!
2. Slooow Down and This Too Shall Pass:
"In the inevitable rising and falling, the cycles of expansion and contraction as you give birth to yoursefl, there may be moments to push, to strive towards a goal. But more frequently the task is one of letting go, of finding a gracious heart that honors the changes of life (Kornfield, p.133)."
Oh, yes this is a hard one to master, especially with SO much to do and SO much going on. It is hard to keep this in mind when you're running on empty, when you're stepping on and tripping over toys, when you've been trying to get out the door for 30 mins and suddenly need to change a diaper. All of our kids grow up. All of them end up sleeping for longer stretches, in separate rooms from us and ultimately, far away from us. They'll be out of diapers, feeding and dressing themselves. And rather than trying to get them out of our doors, we'll be wanting them to come through to visit more often. Repeat this mantra often. This too shall pass and we'll be onto a new phase. I guarantee that we'll then be missing these cuddles and kisses from our tiny humans.
I remember during the early months of postpartum, feeling stuck to the sofa. I literally had to be fed by my partner, as I was breastfeeding all the time. I love to move and it started to make me feel anxious and upset. But in all honesty, it shifted so quickly. And now, with 2 toddlers I am more than making up for all that sitting.
3. It's not all about the physical - but the physical practice is AMAZING, REWARDING and SO BENEFICIAL:
"When we listen to our bodies, our bodily wisdom grows. We can feel the body's urge to move and honor its cycles of rest, we can meditate and dance, we can respect its need for solitude, we can allow its lively senses, and we can know its pleasures and limitations (Kornfield, p.188)."
You cannot pour from an empty cup - this is a very true adage that all parents need to keep in mind. One extremely rewarding and truly beneficial way of filling your cup, is doing something physical. Yoga asana (the physical postures) practice blends more active, yang, movements with the calmer, deeper, stillness of yin movements. It really is a practice that can be modified to suit your mood and your day. It does not have to be prescriptive - sometimes my yoga involves a lot of dance, jumps and arm balances. Other days it involves, lots of stretchy, long, deep holds. Regardless, when the movements are the right ones for your body, on that day, in that moment, you will feel more in tune with yourself, more centred and just generally good.
This is a daily practice. I am by no means anywhere close to achieving all of these tips constantly. I ebb and flow through them and often need to stand still and reflect, questioning my mood and attitude towards each situation, and modify myself accordingly. But each day I wake up, with the aim of keeping my heart full, remaining in tune with my body, and keeping my mind in check.