This was published in ASANA JOURNAL on January 25th, 2016
The two things that have sculptured my adult life the most are, without a doubt, being a mother and practicing yoga. Or… being a yogini and practicing motherhood. Both are deeply ingrained in me now, and I balance each against the other constantly.
I was doing yoga before I became a mum, but on a much more superficial level. My downward dog was just an asana, a way to strengthen my arms and stretch behind the knees. Then I became pregnant, and yoga was a refuge from my hectic life and a way to bond and connect with my unborn child. A deeper aspect of meditation followed the asana practice, but awareness was still just a word in my books.
The baby came, and my baby yoga teacher training was expressed daily in new, creative ways. Now, downward dog was a bridge over the newborn, a new way for her to see her mummy’s face looking at her upside down. Moving into child’s pose was an opportunity to kiss her sweet baby belly.
I’ve always believed that yoga is a part of life, and didn’t want to push life aside in order to do yoga. As a new parent, I struggled with the challenges of doing the practice while occasionally stopping to change a nappy, breastfeed or to sing a lullaby. I have made a conscience decision very early on to never push my kids away because of yoga, so that they don’t grow up resenting it as the thing that takes mummy away.
A year passed by, and downward dogs became a hill for my child to climb on as she giggled, and I became more comfortable with my bumpy practice, full of disturbances. I looked at it as a challenge to be fully present, both on my mat and for the toddler running around me, and her little sister growing inside me.
Awareness started to have a different meaning. Juggling between the focus on my body’s need to move, my mind’s need to relax, my daughter’s needs and my unborn child’s need, was a great way to practice the juggling that my future would demand from me. It was just the start.
Eight years later, with three kids, a puppy, a full time job teaching yoga and a house in Bali to maintain (which is almost as much work as another child…), I am nothing but grateful for the decision I’d made all those years ago.
It’s tough, but it keeps me present. Often, when the daily life routines leave no space for me to unroll my mat, I wait until the kids are sleeping, and treasure my yoga practice much more.
Early mornings are my magical time by myself, then when the house wakes up I see all the beauty of the life I’ve chosen. Sometimes it actually works to keep me calm when things get out of control. Sometimes.
Every parent knows the moment when their child moves from mumbling baby talk to speaking full sentences and you realize that kids are really sponges. They have not only heard and registered every single word you’ve said, but they somehow tapped into things you didn’t say – and now they are saying it all out loud, with either a question mark or an exclamation mark at the end. You say, ‘Hi, where did you hear that (you little rascal)?’ Then it hits you, while you may have never said it, you’ve acted it out, consciously and subconsciously, with sounds and facial expressions. Now, here is awareness practice. In-Your-Face.
That’s why I keep up with yoga even when times are hard. That’s when it’s needed the most, because I don’t want to say, act out or subconsciously express things I will regret.
To be honest? I often fail. I hope that with time and dedication, I can stay cool, calm, and endlessly loving when my kid shouts out stuff I could never imagine her saying (and can’t share here either, pardon me). By the third child, it gets better. If it wasn’t that exhausting, I’d have a forth one just to do it better. But I’m done making children, so we got a puppy. She was already toilet-trained when I took her in so more cleaning poops till my grandchildren come!
Maybe that’s why grandparents are so awesome, and why they often have a much healthier relationship with our kids. They have learn already how to hold back when needed, how to let go, and how to do it with enough awareness not to hurt anyone on the way, including themselves. I sometime wonder if we can figure it out in less than one full lifetime.
I’m heading to my mat now. My puppy runs under me while I’m in down dog, the kids either climb on me and attempt to balance standing on my bottom, or, on really good days, they unroll their own mats and join in.
Noga is a passionate Yoga teacher. She has a gift in making everyone fall in love with Yoga, offering her students the perfect challenge to keep them growing in their practice. She teaches regularly at Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio in Ubud, Bali. Her website: noga-yoga.com or Facebook: Noga yoga