Can an Angry Mama Be a Yoga Mama? An Interview with Elena Brower. ~ Judie Hurtado

Via on Oct 2, 2012

An Interview with Elena Brower

A few weeks ago, I attended the Being Yoga Conference at Omega.

It was a heart opening experience.

The weekend began on a Friday evening. Various teachers were invited to speak on the topic of “Yoga Stories.” Elena Brower was one of the teachers who shared a story. She spoke about a major issue in her life: her impatience towards her son, Jonah.

As a mother to two daughters, age nine and seven, I could relate to Elena. I, too, have felt frustrated at my daughters when they didn’t get ready for school in time or didn’t listen to me the first time I asked them to do something. As a yoga teacher, I had high expectations of myself. I should be calm at all times.

Ha!

Turns out I’m not the only yoga teacher who has experienced the same thing.

JH: When did you become aware that you had a short temper? Was it present before the birth of your son?

EB: I have always had a short fuse both internally and externally, and always battled myself because of it. Doing a lot of work this year to move what I now see to be ancient grief I’ve been storing in my body.

JH: How did you feel about sharing this at Omega? Were you scared, nervous, anxious? I felt you were very brave in opening yourself up. Did you also hold back? Did you want to say more or say less?

EB: I’m always nervous before I speak or teach, and I don’t think that will ever change. We were granted eight minutes. I think I used six. I didn’t want to say more than the space called for, and what I said felt like just enough.

JH: What tools do/did you use to get a hold on your anger or impatience? I read about your work with The Handel Group. I would love for you to expand on your work with them. Did yoga help or did it not help much? Do you feel you are a calmer mother now?

EB: The Handel Method teaches us how to dream: how to have a vision for any area of our lives and live into it. So my dream is that I am a calm, serene Mama to my kid, and I was nowhere near that dream when I wrote that two years ago. I used promises and consequences to get a handle on my temper, and I talked endlessly about it to my son, then four, now almost six. He now has an emotional intelligence and capacity for conversation that surprises me all the time. He is highly aware of my effort to transform this in my life, and we help one another all the time to be communicative and clear.

JH: Do you feel that, since you are a yoga teacher, you should be calm all the time or you should know how to quickly calm down?

EB: Ha! Everyone should.

JH: Could you elaborate on specific instances when your behavior towards your son bothered you? For example, did you yell too loudly when your son took too long to get dressed? Was there a specific event that made you stop and want to take immediate action to help solve this issue?

EB: What I’ve found is that I’m most short-tempered when I’m feeling pressure, always self-inflicted, to accomplish too much at once. I lose focus, then get mad at him for losing focus. Classic. Yelling is my specialty, but I’ve also been physical, like picking him up too strongly or setting him down too vigorously on a handful of occasions for which I’ve always apologized. He and I discuss it all and now those instances of yelling and physicality have disappeared. We kept it out in the open and kept re-patterning the shame we both felt until the energy got much calmer, even when things are moving fast.

JH: What tips or advice would you give mothers, regardless if they practice yoga or not, on how to keep calm while raising children?

EB: Keep talking about your effort to be a great mama. Talk about your struggle in a way that will serve them in real life when they’re older. Be honest about your relationship to your own parents; don’t pretend it’s great and lie about it. Tell them what’s really up and then make an effort to be better for your own family of origin, and keep your kids apprised. Stay in clear communication. Let them help you, and then they’ll let you help them.

JH: Is there anything else you would like to share with the yoga community?

EB: My book, Art of Attention, is almost to print. My co-author Erica Jago and I have crowd-funded the first limited edition printing of 3,000 copies. We will pre-sell about 800-1,000 books, and for each one pre-ordered, we give one to a teacher or teacher in training, with Africa Yoga Project, Lineage Project or Akasha Project. It’s a gorgeous work of art, with five chapters that depict practices already available with me on YogaGlo. Each contains relevant emotional themes as well as careful, clear instruction on the architecture of the poses. At the end of each chapter we’ve included workbook pages to spark creativity and self-designed sequences, themes and ideas for classes. Erica and I are extremely proud of this project and we intend for it to inspire and serve.

 

Judie Hurtado has been practicing various styles of yoga for over 13 years but has always been particularly drawn to vinyasa. She is a Registered Yoga Alliance Yoga Teacher and a Certified Kids Yoga Teacher. She is also a Reiki Master Practitioner and a  Health and Wellness writer. She can be reached at judie.hurtado@gmail.com. Judie blogs about her health and spiritual adventures at www.judiesjuice.wordpress.com.

~

Editor: Elysha Anderson

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11 Responses to “Can an Angry Mama Be a Yoga Mama? An Interview with Elena Brower. ~ Judie Hurtado”

  1. Aisha says:

    thank you so much.
    one occasionaly angry mama

    shanti shanti shanti

  2. [...] Judie Hurtado, posted in Elephant Journal, October [...]

  3. Guest says:

    Thanks for this. This really helped! It's nice to know I'm not the only one–and to know that the situation can improve.

  4. Nathalie says:

    I'm a mom and a yoga teacher and I can relate 100%. We're all still human, right?

  5. manorama says:

    I don't have kids, but I can still totally relate. As a yogi and now as a yoga teacher, I know I can lose my temper and think to myself "shouldn't I be beyond getting this angry by now?!" Relationships with other people always provide us with wonderful learning and growth opportunities. I have to keep reminding myself that if I'm on this path, I need challenges to help me learn how to better deal with that spark that can flare up so fast. Thanks for sharing!

  6. [...] from various backgrounds with food in our bellies and clean water to drink. We took the time to listen, discuss and question. Eventually, we’re presented with the conflict of teaching yoga to other people. Our fears take [...]

  7. J.s.c says:

    I am often alone with my 5 yr olds and lose patience immediately especially at bedtime. I scream. Loudly. My parents screamed all the time too when I was little. I am deepening my yoga practice and teaching too. I practice breathing with my whole body and connecting back to what matters. My emotional life is up, down, sideways all the time. I can be divine in class and fucked up at the same time. We all are – if a mama says she doesn't yell or stays calm even in the face of constant frustration she is disconnected with her whole self. I feel sad when I yell at them. I learn how that feels in my body and move on. Those who are yoga teachers especially with young children are given a direct experience with the truth of who they are in the reflection of their children's eyes. The kids trigger everything inside of me, good, bad, ugly… My reactions whether I choose to change them is day by day, moment by moment. Yoga sometimes makes me more angry as a mom – it forces me to be hyper aware of my relationship with my kids. This article has a good premise but we need more about the subject – not just about this yoga teacher and a plug for her new project.

  8. Kari says:

    I also have no kids and have been teaching yoga for 10 years. I'm astounded by the amount of fresh, raw, explosive retaliation I have. I'm ashamed of how I've channeled it, and humbled by its powerful force.
    I've been in an emotionally abusive relationship for 3 years. Its been volatile and horrendous, on both our parts. He's uber critical and I'm uber sensitive, and we're both passive aggressive. I kept thinking that by holding back I was being patient, loving, compassionate. I really, truly tried giving him the benefit of the doubt; believing that love would eventually bend the structures of our resistance; thinking I was being in the moment by breathing through it; taking his words to heart and trying to learn about propensities I have that he pointed out. I offered quotes, links, articles from Pema Chodron, and from my own yoga mentor. But ultimately, I was just stuffing my anger and in our last two fights I EXPLODED.
    My spiritual quest stalled in this relationship. I fell into reactive, defensive, depressed patterns and I could not see the light. I had glimmers of hope, but the rawness of resentment was stronger than the desire for liberation. I've been stuck. I've said and done terribly mean things. I've also been teaching yoga the whole time, and so feeling like a fraud and a phony and a fake. It's been an incredibly hard three years that I know I've engaged in and even indulged in. It's hard to make any courageous "from now on" bravado when I'm feeling so beat up, but I know that I have to start somewhere. I want to know if there are more people who teach yoga but live with explosive dragons? How to start the healing? Forgiving myself? Him? Meditating? Counseling? I won't resonate with butterflies and rainbows kind of healing. Anger is a destructive force; I feel a little bit jaded because of it but also more realistic about spirituality than ever.

  9. judie611 says:

    Thank you everyone who read my interview and took the time to share your thoughts. I just returned from a spiritual pilgrimage to India. It's amazing to read your honest comments. I thank Elena for being so open and unafraid to share her experiences. By sharing and connecting, we can all heal.

  10. Theresa says:

    Justification for screaming at, shaking your child when angry does not exist. Elena is an abuser. Period. Children of 4 or 5 do not understand your rationalisations for this behavior. It is wrong.

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