Wednesday, May 07, 2014

An Unexpected Joy

After becoming a mother I experienced some significant changes in the way I conceived what a daily ashtanga yoga practice looked like.  In the years before, I had been relatively uncompromising in my approach to practice, and even during my pregnancy I was able to continue doing something that resembled my regular practice fairly closely, which at the time included asana, pranayama and meditation.  Although my asana practice changed considerably over the nine month period, I was still able to carve out a large portion of my morning and fully devote it to a time of personal practice, and pretty much whatever else I wanted to do.  After having our son Jediah, I learned very quickly that my time was no longer my own.

If you do not have children, or if you have never been in the position of having all the responsibility of taking care of a small helpless infant for the first time, then it is easy to underestimate the amount of energy and full-time one-pointed focus that goes into caring for a baby.  All of your heart, soul, body and mind is being drawn out by this tiny being, and there is not a lot of room for anything or anyone else (at least that was my experience).  I honestly felt that I had no time that was my own, and the brief periods I did find, felt like stolen moments, fleeting and unpredictable.  I would try to fit in some kind of semblance of a "regular practice" when Jediah was sleeping, but mostly it turned into a time of much needed rest for my sleep-deprived self. 

Although there were many times during that first year where I found myself frustrated with not being able to practice yoga in the manner I was used to, once I let go and surrendered to what was, rather then trying to force things into the way I wanted them to be, a whole new world opened up.  

Through the experience of motherhood, I was forced to look at my life with new eyes.  I began to see my practice of yoga expanding and reaching out beyond just the practice of asana, pranayama or meditation.  

To my own surprise, part of my yoga practice became singing devotional songs (bhajans) to my baby boy, and this included japa, the regular recitation of a mantra, through hours of crying and sleepless nights.  My new found practice involved embracing my role as a mother in the form of unconditional love, not only directed to my son, but also opening up to include each person I would meet; seeing the beautiful child residing within them, and their need to be seen, accepted, and loved.  For me, yoga became an immediate call to be fully present, whether I was making a meal, washing dishes, or changing diapers.  I practiced surya-namaskara whenever I saw the sun, and the deepest sense of gratitude and devotion would wash over me as I gave thanks for its warmth, for nature, for my precious child, and this beautiful gift of life. 

Don’t get me wrong, I completely still love my daily asana and pranayama practice, and I am so grateful to again have the time and space where I can make them a focused priority in my day once again.

However, I am also so grateful for this gift of motherhood that opened my eyes and my heart in a completely new and unexpected way.  

Even though it is probably the most challenging role of my life, it not only gave me a wondrous, magical little boy, who fills my world with awe and amazement, but it opened my mind to experiencing a greater depth within my own practice of yoga, and allowed me to see more clearly how it ought to be practiced and incorporated into everything I do, in many different ways, and I will be eternally grateful for that.    

Hari Om Tat Sat

No comments: