February 8, 2013

More Than Just Asana. ~ Sherry Edwards

These days getting my mat out and having a full hour and a half practice takes more dedication than it used to.

For the past three years, I have practiced on my own, in my little apartment with very little space.

My excuse? Not enough time, too many things to do, too many responsibilities, I simply could not justify dedicating that much time to practicing yoga everyday.

For a long time, I felt guilty—had my yoga practice really been reduced to this? Practicing a few times a week, whenever I could fit it around household chores and raising a child?

My son Khiri was born two-and-a-half years ago, delivered via emergency C-section, this took me a long time to recover, both mentally and physically. Khiri was colic for a the first few weeks, he did not really start sleeping through the night until 18 months and I chose to breastfeed for 13 months.

Everyday seemed like a blur, but somehow out of sheer guilt, I rolled out my mat and practiced the day my son turned seven weeks. I cried when I first practiced, I could not believe how weak I had gotten; I could not even do a single chaturanga!

I felt like I was a pathetic excuse for a yoga teacher.

And so it continued, in between cooking, cleaning, breastfeeding and weeping, I managed to practice more and more everyday until I felt stronger.

As my son grew older and more independent, I realized the most important thing, while I was mourning over the loss of my core strength and time I had for a yoga practice, I was forgetting to appreciate watching my son grow.

It has taken me a while to come to this point—to understand that yoga really is beyond what happens on the mat, that it does not matter if I will never be able to do a handstand or a tick tock. I have the most important yoga practice to cherish—being a mother.

Last year, someone I knew posted a comment on a social network site which implied that a person was not deserving of being yoga teacher if they did not practice six days a week with no exceptions. I immediately felt guilty—that was not something I was able to do. It’s a shame that this has now become the new definition of what a yoga practitioner is, whether student or teacher, because surely there’s more to just the asana.

Are you a more wholesome person if you have a solid six-day a week practice? Do you have more integrity because you can do a jump back? Does it really make you a better person?

I doubt it.

I find that I learn so much more about finding happiness from watching a child grow than practicing advanced postures. Nowadays, I do a full practice four to five times a week during the day, usually when my son takes his naps or when he’s at nursery, on those days I’m usually teaching or working with my husband on our new company, and in some instances, cleaning our apartment.

If the days had more hours, we could all fit in a nice long practice while still being able to finish our work and spend quality time with our families, but we don’t, and truth be told if I had to choose between practicing and spending time with my son, there is no doubt I will always pick my son.

As yoga practitioners, we all know that yoga exists beyond the postures, yet many of us are still judgmental towards others who are not able to commit more than 4 days of practicing a week. Let’s be open-minded and allow ourselves to see yoga for what it really is.

My husband is a great example—he does not practice hatha yoga, he is always willing to give a helping hand to those he does not even know and is also an extremely forgiving person. I always tell people that he is a yogi at heart as he is the most thoughtful person I have ever met.

To me, that is a form of yoga. So what if his heels don’t even touch the ground in downward dog? Does that really matter?

Every yoga practice is different to each individual.

For me, it’s my son Khiri, the person who taught me about unconditional love, understanding, and most of all patience. He will always be my greatest teacher, testing me at times but making me stronger. How would you define your yoga practice?

Sherry Edwards: I found yoga 11 years ago due to a martial arts injury, and since then I have never looked back. I have been to various workshops around Asia where I am originally from and lived in India for a month on two separate occasions studying under the guidance of the late Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois. Prior to moving to the UK, I worked on television as a TV presenter and actress and a part-time yoga teacher for Absolute Yoga Bangkok. I originally began my yoga passage with ashtanga but have in the last two years taken on a more vinyasa approach. I currently live in the UK with my husband and son. Find me here: mudrasana.com

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Ed: Apprentice Ramunno/ Lynn Hasselberger

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