Although Mothers Day in the UK has been and gone, the American celebration, instigated by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in May 1914, falls on the 13th. And, being a mother myself, I personally feel that there can’t be enough Mothers Days in the world. In fact, perhaps we should instigate a monthly Mothers Day?
With this in mind, I started to think about how mothers (my own, and in general) are like yoga practice. Here is a list of what’s similar about them, apart from the obvious similarity of them both being AWESOME.
My morning yoga is stiff, like my Mum
My actual mother is actually pretty limber, but this is about how our bodies are changeable, from day to day, week to week, month to month. And (especially if you’re a woman) from minute to minute. First thing in the morning, when I try to squeeze in an early practice, my body is inflexible and slow to respond. There’s no point rushing or forcing the body into anything; just allow the body time to slowly wake up, open up and get going. Just like our mothers.
My yoga isn’t perfect, like my Mum
My Mum isn’t perfect. She’d admit that herself, but she’s the perfect Mum to me. In the same way, my yoga practice isn’t perfect. There are times when it falls short in many ways, through laziness, distractions, illness and all the 9 obstacles to yoga that Patanjali specified, as well as a few more that I seem to have made up. But whatever yoga I manage to fit into the week, even if it’s just my weekly lesson, or breathing a little deeper while stuck in traffic, that’s still my best yoga.
My yoga is embarrassing, like my Mum
Mothers are programmed to be embarrassing – it’s part of the cycle of revenge for all those sleepless nights when we were babies. There were times in my teenage years in particular when the simplest thing that came out of my mother’s mouth was mortifying. Sadly this is also sometimes like my yoga. Like when I went to a workshop and literally everyone else in the room was a teacher and they all sprung lithely up into handstand and I was left waggling and flailing trying to get up into the pose. Which eventually I did, due to the sheer terror of embarrassment.
My yoga gives me confidence, like my Mum
Actually, it was my grandmother that used to do this, but, being a mother herself, it still counts. Whenever I was in a school show of any kind, be it a concert, play or school assembly, my grandmother would come up to me, and whisper conspiratorially, “Darling, you were THE BEST.” Whether this was true or not, her belief in me gave me an inner confidence in my abilities. Now that my dearest grandmother is no longer with us, it is my yoga that whispers to me. It’s not exactly saying that I’m the best, but it does say, ‘If you can work at your yoga poses, and achieve them, you can do anything.’
My yoga is there for me, like my Mum
When we’re low, or tired, grumpy or achy, the person we really want is our Mum. I know that if I’m ill, there’s no one like my Mum to make me feel looked after, by making me soup, or just saying the right thing. In the same way, I know that yoga is there for me, in good times and bad. Period pains? There’s a sequence to soothe my cramping womb. Anxious? I can set myself up in supported inversions and slowly the fears subside. And when I’m joyful, because the sun is finally shining, I can offer up my thanks to the universe with a sun salutation or ten.
My yoga gets wiser as it gets older, like my Mum
When we begin our yoga journey, we are brimming with enthusiasm for our new-found passion. We throw ourselves into lessons and practice with the feeling that we are winning a race. And when I say ‘we’, I mean ‘me’. However, over time, – especially for those of us that go through the crucible of yoga teacher training – this enthusiasm starts to mellow into an appreciation of the depth of the discipline to which we have committed ourselves. The practice we do at home slows and becomes more meditative, and more about connecting with the body in its entirety. Just like our Mums, who with the advantage of age, see clearly how life isn’t a race, but a series of present moments.
My yoga is part of me, like my Mum
My mother is part of who I am, part of the fabric of my being. She gave birth to me, raised me and, for better and for worse, molded me into the woman I am today. Yoga is also part of who I am. It has worked its way into the centre of my life. It wasn’t always like that. But, over time, the first two strands of yoga, yama and niyama, have begun to embed themselves into my consciousness. The discipline of practice stands as a steady core to the busy ups and downs of daily life. Like my mother, it is now so much a part of me that it’s hard to see where yoga ends and I begin.