Hello Dreams. Goodbye. Tales of a Yogi Householder.

Via on Feb 24, 2011

A couple years ago, I decided to stop waiting for someone to hand me what I wanted from life.

I had been living and working from a place that told me I needed permission from others to reach out for my dreams. Feelings of inadequacy, fear, and especially fear of failure, had kept me feeling pretty stagnant.

So during the pregnancy of my third son, I harnessed all of that juicy, gestational energy and wrote a book on prenatal yoga. I knew this would be my last pregnancy and wanted to be able to capture that voice with authenticity. I also started pursuing other dreams, like traveling and teaching. It turned out, after some examination of my life, that an odd weekend away from my family was much easier to pull off than commiting to an overwhelming load of regular classes.

Doorways opened and at the same time, critics and jealousy started showing their green, putrid faces.  Some of that criticism was subtle, others less so. I knew that most of it revolved around the idea that when someone is getting what they want from life, it tends to make others keenly aware that they have stopped reaching for their own dreams. I wasn’t doing anything that couldn’t be done by others, it’s just a matter of going for it. Still, I spent some time wallowing in fear and then decided to let the universe show me my path. And there it was, laid out before me, wide open, inviting and wonderful.

Sometimes the way is clear. But only for a while.

It’s easy to fall back into not knowing. For all the tendrils of hope I put out there, very few came to fruition. Yet the ones that did were wonderful. I failed more than I succeeded, but valuing success over failure taught me a good lesson on perseverance.

Okay, I can work, I can accept failure and keep going.

But something new happened. Grasping and jealousy of my own, for what others were doing and what I wanted. It’s so easy to bang your head into the wall and forget that the path is just around the corner.

Then there were the other things. Four, specifically: my husband and my three sons.

I would so like to be like those other yogis, the ones who have it all figured out, the ones that have time to roll out their mats and practice each day without distraction. The ones who can teach 50 classes a week because they have no other obligations. I want to be married to my yoga. But I am married to my husband.

Balancing married life with motherhood and yoga is very difficult. Throughout it all, yoga is my lifeline.  I practice the yoga of truthfulness, non-violence and especially contentment and unattachment.

I can’t tell you how many times I rolled out my mat and then someone threw up on it. Literally. Or the time that I got the kids in the car, on the way to the babysitter and then to teach a full day of classes and workshops, only to throw in the towel and head home because that someone threw up then too. Puke happens when you have kids. Often.

The greater teachings of yoga that are contained in the Yoga Sutras have so much more value to me than the execution of  an advanced pose.  But there are casualties: my practice, at times, and my body. I’ve put on 15 pounds in the last year since I had my baby. Practicing contentment can be hard when the inner critic is on with ferocity each and every hour of the day.

My teacher Kofi Busia once shared with me how much criticism he received as a parent and a yogi. Others would tell him he was missing out.  But he didn’t see it that way, and neither do I.

It’s not that my family and my yoga are at odds with each other, because it’s all about perspective. Contentment doesn’t come on its own, it takes work. Hard work. The snarky, snaking words of the inner critic, of the ego are constant. If yoga is all about the body and the pose, I would be a big, fat failure right now.  But it’s not. Asana happens, in the words of Richard Freeman. But yoga is all the time.

So when I notice the negative, grasping or self-pitying voices, I breathe. Lesson one in yoga: watch the breath, it has much to tell you and even more to offer.

Then I go back to walking my path and trying to avoid banging my head into walls. The walls will win every time, but the path is usually just around the corner.

About Candice Garrett

Candice Garrett is a yoga teacher, writer, foodie and mother of three from Monterey, California. She is author of "Prenatal Yoga: Finding Movement in Fullness," assistant to Female Pelvic Floor Goddess Leslie Howard and director of the Nine Moons Prenatal Yoga teacher training program. Candice teaches yoga, prenatal yoga and pelvic health with workshops nationally. You can find her teaching schedule at Candice Garrett Yoga or her love of food at The Yogic Kitchen

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11 Responses to “Hello Dreams. Goodbye. Tales of a Yogi Householder.”

  1. amy annis says:

    Great article…..I can relate!

  2. paulanaudette says:

    Amen sister I'm with you! Thanks for the article.

  3. Enjoyed this, Candice. Good insights.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  4. Carol Horton Carol Horton says:

    I've remarked to myself many times that it seems like most of the high-profile female yoga teachers either have no kids, or at most one. Or they are men.

    I'm sure, however, that there are TONS of devoted yoga practitioners – including both non-high-profile teachers and serious students – who share your situation. I know that having started getting seriously into yoga as a working mom with a baby and another one soon on the way, I totally missed out on that whole stage of being able to be devoted to practice, travel to India, etc. with no family commitments to impede you. I do wonder what it would have been like to have even had a decade like that. Quite different, I know that.

    At any rate, that's all to say that I think that a lot of people would be interested in learning about combining yoga and family. I know Hala Khouri taught some workshops on this theme – this new yoga memoir, Poser, is all about that – people are hungry for models, strategies, inspiration. So maybe rather than a hindrance to teaching this situation could be an opportunity for it?

  5. Hilary Lindsay Hilary Lindsay says:

    Candice,
    There are so many wonderful things about this post. Your observation about other folks insecurity about your path reminds me of a story a yoga teacher told us years ago. She said she was going no where in life and realized she had a group of friends who were co-dependent on none of them being "better" than the other. They didn't want her to succeed. She left that group and the world opened up.

    As for teaching and motherhood, I appreciate your candor. I still feel guilty for all the nights my husband put my young children to bed while I was teaching as I was the steady income in the family for years. I mourn for those times I will not get back but I know I did what was necessary and loved my job.

    There were very few women with husbands and even fewer with children when I produced television commercials. I gave that up to be a mother. There were also very few women with kids teaching yoga when I started but as there are so many more teachers and it's a second job or hobby to many of them, there are now more women teaching yoga who have another life as well. Your story may help them. It is a new culture.

    Thanks for the lovely and personal story.

  6. Emily Perry Emily Perry says:

    You are so right Carol, and thank you Candice for this great piece. As a teacher with two kids, I too wish i could just take off for mysore, but instead i have to plan far, far ahead for a weekend workshop.
    In terms of living our dreams, the critics come out of the woodwork for sure when they see their own lives reflected in your path~ instead of inspiring them to change or dream bigger, often they get defensive & jealous…. Beautiful~ thank you!

  7. holly troy says:

    awesome! one day at a time – and – inspiring!

  8. Amanda says:

    Simply perfect. Though not so eloquently, I could have written this article as I have been bemoaning my situation as of late, wife of one, and mom of 4, envious of those whose life is yoga, who can live and breath it. Bitter that I have to balance and juggle and sleep less and work harder just to find moments to myself. I love the words from Richard Freeman that you reminded me of, asana happens, yoga is all the time. And I remind myself of the words of my teacher, who says there have been no mistakes in this life, that I am exactly where I need to be, that on some level, all is perfect and fine as it is, and that as Arjuna in the Gita, I am to do my duty, with grace, strength, unwavering commitment, and no attachment to outcome. A tall order no doubt, but that is my yoga.

  9. Dawna says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I sold my yoga studio to return to corporate life after divorce, knowing that I could not support my two sons on the salary of a brand new studio owner or teacher. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, and I dealt – not so gracefully – with the jealousy and resentment that the author describes as well. These feelings forced me to look carefully at my own heart and ask… what am I doing? I had an idea of how it should be and that turned out not to be possible, but that was just one idea. And who says how it should be?? Raising these boys is my spiritual practice and if I can't find joy and contentment in living a brilliant and beautiful life that looks a little different that what I had imagined, what is my practice all about anyway? Teaching yoga is not about the idyllic life of retreats, workshops, and quiet meditation for most mothers and particularly not single moms. But these women hold a great deal of wisdom and truly live their yoga every day, in every moment. Bowing to each of you – Namaste!

  10. Trish adkins says:

    I love this post and now you! Thank you. Finding the yoga in motherhood is not written in any book. Thanks for putting a piece of it out there.

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