He sits there in the corner. Watching me as I rush by, getting kids fed and dressed and taxiing them to their various daily destinations. He never complains, only patiently waits for my attention. Sometimes days, or even a week go by, without me bothering to do stop, even for a minute, to make room in my life for him. Because he knows that I will come back and when I do, with the utmost attention and fondness. So he waits, quietly, peacefully.
He is my yoga mat. Why he and not she? Perhaps he is the yang to my yin.
Sometimes I long for the days when my free time wasn’t so precious. Oh the glorious indulgence of ninety minutes to breathe and move without interruption! Not to mention the hard-won investment that would be an actual yoga class.
So I find ways, here and there, to practice. I get creative with distracting the kids with projects or tasks. But it’s so fleeting. Painfully so.
A friend of mine, recently asked me, in regards to this very sentiment:
You were describing how much you longed for twenty minutes of free time yesterday (while baby kept himself busy) so you could practice yoga. And I thought: I have free time–why don’t I practice more on my own? And the truth is that while I always feel good and enjoy going to a yoga class, I almost never get myself to practice on my own. Why? It isn’t that I don’t know poses or couldn’t do something–and I do occasionally. But you clearly “hunger” for it–need it–long for it. And you make the time to do it even when you are busy. I know other people who do the same. But why don’t I or others like me? Where does the drive or the discipline to create space for practice come from?
Truth be told, there are many times I have opportunity to practice that I don’t take advantage of. There is always so much to do when you’re a busy mother of three. But after so long, I have a nagging whisper in the back of my mind. A reminder, a pleading. Please, please practice.
I feel it in my hamstrings, in my hips, my tight jaw and lately, my psoas. My body hurts, my mind is scattered, I’m irritable and I don’t sleep well. I notice how, well, crappy I feel without yoga.
In response to my friend’s question, I can only respond: after so many years of disciplined practice, I simply notice the difference. My practice is an investment that I make in myself. It’s a time when I nurture myself, when so often, all of my energy is going toward nurturing others. When I do finally make the time, I am so much better able to care for others. That is the paradox of yoga, we can only take care of others, have compassion for others, when we take care of and have compassion for ourselves.
Everyone has twenty minutes in their day. Everyone. It’s not that the practice will find you, so much as you have to make time to find the practice. Sometimes I get on my mat and I can’t find the will to drag myself through more than a few rounds of sun salutations. Perhaps that time is better spent in restorative yoga. Other times I find myself conquering poses that I’ve only found challenging. Whichever it is, practice is practice.
So set yourself a time. Preferably a devoted time slot each day, to get on your mat. Step on to it and sit. Breathe. See where the practice leads you and practice unattachment to the results. But do this each day, do it when you feel great, do it when you don’t feel great. Over time, you’ll find you’re looking forward to your daily date with your yoga mat as well.
And lastly, don’t beat yourself up about the days you don’t get there. That’s part of yoga too; accepting what is at that moment. To be fully present in your life, without being preoccupied by what you’re missing, or getting caught up in your constant inner dialogue. Yoga tells us to move from equanimity in all things.
Becoming a mother taught me more about yoga, in some ways, than a teacher ever did. It taught me to savor what I can, the yoga of doing dishes and cuddling with sleepy babes. Because my mat is still there, and will always be, when I am ready to come back to it.