I sometimes find myself wondering, and even dreaming, about what my yoga journey would have looked like if I wasn’t a mother. I fantasise about trips to India, exotic festivals, long mediations and my fit yoga body on my mat every day. This however is not my reality.
My days usually consist of waking up already exhausted from a sleepless night with an unsettled toddler. Running around crazy making school lunches, organising three children and squawking animals, cleaning, doing the washing, the cooking, teaching my classes and amongst all this saying, “I need to make more time to get on my mat today or I will fail as a yogi!”
This has been my world now for over 11 years! Two years ago I decided to complete my teacher training in Ashtanga, having practiced and trained previously and already entering my fifth year of teaching children. I was already feeling the benefits of a regular Ashtanga yoga practice and knew this is what I wanted to do. This is where I truly began my journey. Not my yoga journey, that was only moving to a higher level, but my journey into a new, more mindful motherhood.
Now I had a problem: How was I ever going to commit myself fully to the yoga world? How would I ever be able see through the toddler taming and washing and cleaning? Shall I pursue yoga later, when I have more time? These were the questions swimming around in my head constantly as I began on my training at 8 Limbs.
I was lucky enough to have trained with a world renowned Ashtanga Yogi, Gregor Maehle, who encouraged me to keep going. During the first few weeks of my teacher training, I was worried about how I would make it through. My youngest magic bean was only 15 months old and I had only just finished breastfeeding her, as well as being full time mama to my other two babes (7 and 8 years) all while running a kid’s yoga school. How could I possibly indulge myself in the very personal world of yoga? It felt like a very selfish and time exhausting project for a mama of three to do.
My teacher Gregor offered this:
“Yogis see human society and having a family as a manifestation of divine law… Yoga practice is often used to muster the strength to be a mother or to continue ones responsibility towards the community. That’s part of life.”
So what we might feel is an indulgence of our precious time, is actually an exercise to strengthen us. It can make us better mothers and help us rise to our daily challenges. But then how do we expect to build this strength when our our time is so precious?
“The best ways to do this, in my experience, is to realistically allocate as much of your daily time to yogic methods as you can … not more and not less. As you then practice you will realise yogas benefits and over years and decades be able to free more time towards yogic technique. This is very much how the ancient teachers envisaged it. In the Ramayana it is said that the ancients gained freedom after a long life of yogic practice and study. Important word here is ‘after’.”
These words really resonated with me. A reminder about being present in the moment. With a life time of worthwhile yoga practice in front of me, I realised that all I had was now. Delaying was only going to be detrimental.
I’ve learnt so many things from Gregor’s teachings of yoga philosophy, over the past two years that filled me with hope and strength. I AM worthy of using my time to learn and grow and that I should definitely be starting now.
“As yogis we need to dedicate ourselves to slowly increase the quality of our life over decades rather than expecting massive break throughs in the short term that cannot be sustained. Those who expect this often leave frustrated and seek somewhere else. In my own yogic life I found the first decade hard going. The second pretty much happen by itself, carried by the energy that I invested in the first decade. In the third decade then the harvest, created through seeds planted in previous decades, started in earnest. I cannot even imagine what treasures the fourth decade will bring. And be sure about that: also I started with not having time for yoga in the first few years.”
More than anything, I learnt that motherhood itself, is YOGA! In India, the mother is worshipped as the goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. As the Upanishads say, “Matru devo bhava” Let thy mother be thy god!
Mother is creator, she’s life giving and divine.
I learnt about Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and the 8 limbs of Yoga, but one of the Niyamas resonated with me most of all. “Ishvara Prandidhana“, meaning Surrender to your divine Higher Self or God (which ever is your preference). As we reviewed this, I couldn’t help but think about how, as a mother I have surrendered to my children. Surrendered my practice, my body, my heart and myself fully. This is when I looked more closely to the 8 Limbs and found light in knowing that I was living yoga in my everyday.
With all the sacrifices I make and surrendering I do as a mother, the one thing that brought me solace and enlightenment was something no teacher could have taught me or shown me. The invaluable knowledge and experience from raising my children everyday. Being their mama and giving everything in the process. Motherhood is my yoga and for this I am truly grateful.
To all the mamas of the world, I wish you all a beautiful Mother’s day with much love and rainbows. You are all wonderful in every way.