As I stand and survey the absolute destruction zone that has occurred in front of me I cannot help to think, “this is not what I expected to be dealing with today.” The entire situation like a scene from a war movie…the bomb was dropped, everything exploded into tiny shreds of shrapnel, and somewhere in the corner is a tiny crying human.
I am not sure what the crying is about right now. Is it her teeth? Is she hungry? Tired? Is she bored? Does she hate me? I feel like I have done everything I can, and yet it still isn’t enough to make her perfectly content for this exact moment. Then the guilt sets in from there…I am a bad mother. I haven’t done enough. I haven’t given her enough. I am not prepared. I will never be prepared.
Having a one year old is like testing your yoga philosophy every single minute of the day. Sometimes in class I hear myself say things to my students that I have to take a step back from and put them in my mommy folder to remember when I get home. We spend hours as teachers and students trying to connect our mental and physical practice on the mat, but what about off the mat? As I am here standing over the war zone hearing the whines of my child, and silently weeping inside I try to pull from that lost file in the back of my brain labeled “Ahimsa”.
We learn that Ahimsa is the practice of non-violence which includes physical, mental, and emotional destruction to yourself and others. For me that means fostering the ideals of compassion and patience. Do I want to literally rip my hair out sometimes? Of course. But I don’t. And I won’t because there is a tiny glimmer of patience within. We create this “violence” in ourselves most often in our reactions to external events, creating judgement, anger, or criticism. I criticize myself as a mother. I judge myself. I allow others judgments to flood my brain…but what is productive about that? Nothing.
When I tell my daughter not to throw something and she looks me in the eye and does just that, it takes every ounce of my being to remind myself that she means no harm in it. She is not trying to upset me. She is a child…a baby. It is at this crossroad that we have the option as a parent in how we react. I could get mad. I could yell. Or I can pick it up and remember that this is just another learning opportunity in acceptance, patience, and motherhood. In class I LOVE a teachable moment. I love when a student “fails” (it is never a failure really, only an attempt) at a pose and that creates an entire learning experience of how to do the pose better. How to let go of a pose. How to improve. How to avoid a mental breakdown…whatever it may be for that particular student. And so is life to give me these teachable moments every day…not for my child, but for me. A moment to practice and improve MY yoga…my off the mat practice. The real practice.
But then after I have taken a moment to breathe, and I have picked up every last block, that tiny perfect human walks over, crawls in my lap, and gives me a kiss. And I remember that it is all so worth it.
Michelle Young, E-RYT and PRYT is a yoga teacher, business owner, mother, and lover of life. She is also part of the My Yoga Scene family, co-editing and blogging about her love of yoga and the journey of motherhood. She has been teaching in the Atlanta area since 2008 in the disciplines of Hot, Vinyasa, Hatha, and Prenatal yoga. Michelle owns and teaches at Lime Tree Yoga in the Old Fourth Ward, and is the private instructor for the Atlanta Hawks. She combines her love of yoga and travel by leading yoga retreats around the globe. You can reach Michelle at email@example.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org