May 11, 2013

Motherhood Is My Yoga. My Yoga Is Motherhood. ~ Karyn Robinson

“There’s a special place in heaven for the mother of three boys…”

There’s the gentle music, the sweet sweat glistening on my skin, the most incredible feeling of relaxation and all is bliss with the world. While the calming voice of the yoga instructor guided our breath, the harsh intercom voice piped into our sanctum requesting I attend to my child in the nursery immediately.

So began my introduction to yoga and mommy-hood … again.

I have four children. I have spent 25, 22, 21 and 11 years collectively and individually with each of them.  My oldest son will be 32 years old when my youngest child graduates high school. All of my adult life (excluding the years from 21-22) has been spent as a mother.

All of these years at motherhood have taught me how strong of a person I really am and really am not, and that I can do almost anything backwards in high heels with a baby on my hip.

Eleven or so years ago, after my fourth child—sleep deprived with my tummy still soft and flabby and my breasts engorged—I heard a call toward serenity from within. It took the form of a recreation center guide section entitled “Yoga.”

I would have loved if my introduction to yoga was at one of the many top-rated yoga studios that we are fortunate to have in Boulder, Colorado, but the rec center offered the one thing these top-rated, world-class studios did not—childcare. It was only in 1.5 hour intervals mind you, the exact length of the class, but with baby and diaper bag in tow, I signed my child into the care of strangers and walked across the hall into bliss.

After my first ever three sun salutations, I knew I had found something that would shift and mold me—rearrange me somehow. This yoga was something I wanted to share and teach to others, especially to mothers.

Mom, Mum, Ma, Mama, Mommy, Mummy, Ma, or as my middle son likes to refer to me, “the giver of life.”…  The yoga mantra of mommy-hood.

How motherhood relates to life is that like life, you are never done, never really off duty or far from the essence of being a mother, until the day of course when you are done.

Motherhood sneaks into your dreams, your vacations away from your kids and date nights with your husband.

An essential survival skill to motherhood is to know how to put the kids and their issues out of your mind.

But they never leave your heart.

Even when I die I will still have folks on this planet that knew me as their mother and possibly, as their grandmother. The family is a web and the mother is the silk. She connects all the dots, weaves the kids, cousins, relatives, friends, community, appointments, life and marriage together.

When I was young, I always thought I’d be a mother but I never knew why. What did being a mother entail? Why did I want to be a mother? Why did I want to have multiple children? Even when pregnant with my fourth child I found this question difficult to answer. Maybe it is one of those things you can’t answer, because it just is, and it’s just my path this go-around.

When all four of my children are home together—which is not often of late—these are the days I cherish.

As they grow, move and expand so do we as a family. I was recently asked “What is it that I once richly held close and now is radically empty?”

It’s a deep question, I know.

My answer to her oh-so-probing question is my sons as boys: their curls, baths, trucks, Legos, slingshots and rubber band guns; their dirt, loud playfulness, fears and fighting, scrabbling, smelly, beautiful, ease-i-ness selves; my value to them—applying tickle cream to scrapes, and when needed, taking them as calmly as possible to the ER for stitches and casts; giving them Popsicles when sore throats struck and cool cloths to settle fevers; reading book—Winnie the Pooh, Goodnight Moon, Dr. Seuss, Star Wars, Narnia, The Lord of the Rings; combing their locks and washing out the dirt between their toes; cheering and encouraging them on soccer and baseball fields and at piano recitals; picking them up, taking them to appointments, school, dates, friends’ houses; their simple complexity of being boys; being asked for advice, help with applications, studying for tests, making science fair projects and filling out all the forms; friends, first loves, driver’s license exams, college dorm shopping and now … well not too much really.

Now, once, twice, three times a year if I’m lucky, I get to wash my oldest son’s uniforms, fold his clothes, make his favorite meals and host a party with all his buddies in between his deployments in the Navy.

Maybe six times a year I get to make my middle son’s favorite meals, chat on the phone and offer advice with goals, classes and jobs.

With the last one, who is deep in the throngs of turning 21, we are mostly struggling through the emancipation process—that giant leap to adulthood—with the occasional $20 here, $100 there. They are not exactly priceless moments.

I am now the mother to young men.

I often send my opening Oms in yoga class to my sons. I dedicate a practice to one or all of my children.  I have found myself in tears during a class, releasing or grieving the loss of one of those boys into manhood.

They have given me my strength, and like my yoga, they have guided me, pushed back and raised me in many ways. Yoga has aided me through unraveling my three boys into men.

It is motherhood, motherhood is my yoga.

As the saying goes, there is a special place in heaven for the mother of three boys. I believe there is also a special place on earth for the mother of three men.

Watching them walk away to their next deployment at the airport, toward their jobs, their university classes, their girlfriends’ open arms and their ever-growing independent lives is the most pride-filled and pain-filled sight for me.

It’s the in-between, the independence, the interdependence, the yoking, the union, the yoga of being their mother.

I am so grateful to have my beautiful daughter of 11 years, and the hair-dos, nail painting, tea parties, dolls and pink dresses. I cherish the sweetness, cuddles, discussions, art projects and nature walks with her.

I am excited to be a bit older and hopefully a wiser, more patient, present, yogic-like mother for her; the mother who soon will lead other mothers, with their flabby new mommy tummies and engorged breasts, to breathe, move, stretch and embody their motherhood, hopefully through an hour and a half with no intercom calls from the nursery.

Why be a mother? Possibly the answer is simply because I am.


From the first few movements of her first yoga class in 2001, Karyn Robinson knew she wanted to share this experience of yoga. In 2007 she met her beloved primary teacher, Shiva Rea. You can find Shakti Girl in her hometown of Boulder CO with her husband, four children, and business WearPeace.com.


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Assistant Ed: Stephanie V./Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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