Ah, Mother’s Day — that yearly reminder of what’s never really forgotten. I mean, the fact that you’re a mom doesn’t slip your mind, does it? Or at least not very often, or for very long. But the annual May ‘holiday’ does give others a chance to recognize your mama status, and affords us all the opportunity to thank our own mothers and to recognize the beauty and accomplishments of other moms we know and love.
It can also be a time for reflection. This year I’ve been thinking a lot about how motherhood is the most potent form of yoga I practice.
What do I mean by this? Well, physical postures and seated meditation, sure, they can be challenging. Those classes where the instructor is putting you in chair pose way more than is necessary and way past the point of comfort can test your limits. So can sitting for meditation when your life is moving at warp speed, your mind racing to organize just how you’ll be able to get everyone where they need to go before noon. You need discipline and focus.
But motherhood? Well that my friends is a true endurance test. And although there’s a ton of joy to be found in mothering, it’s not all lullabies and i-love-yous. It can get downright intense.
This is when yoga comes in, where it starts off the mat.
A lot of mom’s I know view yoga as an activity to turn to get some well deserved “me” time. They go to the studio to step out of the frazzle and churn of the sometimes seemingly endless everyday tasks, to spend some time alone, to stay fit, to taste that subtle connection between body and mind that yoga uniquely offers.
And this is all good. Yes to turning to your practice for needed nourishment. Yes to taking care of yourself so that you have the wherewithal to care for others. Yes to feeding your soul as you endeavor to feed others. You absolutely should make time for your physical practice.
But please also consider this, the work you do in the world — the packing of bagged lunches in the early morning, the skillful negotiating with the toddler to get her shoes on, the patient listening to every obscure and almost nonsensical detail of the book your boy is reading — is also yoga. And it’s not typically a tranquil studio experience either. It doesn’t come packaged with a soothing soundtrack and restful savasana. (In fact, it’s pretty much a never ending loop of mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy,for a good number of years.)
Instead motherhood comes with less sleep and more stress, with limited personal time and a heaping dose of responsibility. It arrives wearily in the wee hours of the night when up with a sick child, anxiously as you endeavor to stay consistent with discipline you’re unsure of, and impatiently as you refrain from strangling your teenager after a particularly snarky remark.
But ALL of this — the staying present, doing your best, providing guidance, working on patience, learning to recognize and accept that change and transition are constant, pouring yourself into selfless action, and the daily experience of unconditional love? Yes, all of this is yoga.
So this mother’s day give yourself some credit for already being an accomplished yogini – even if the endless carpool schedule keeps you from making it into the studio as often as you’d like.
Beth Purcell is a human, freelance writer, yogini & member of The House of Yogi family. She finds the oft repeated routine of yoga – from asana to breathwork to meditation – allows her to navigate the organic chaos of everyday life and stay connected to the inspiration & creativity innate in us all.