A Mother’s Practice.

Via Dana Gornall
on Dec 29, 2013
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photo: lifesheimagined.tumblr

In the chaos of my house, I search for the mat.

Bits of Christmas paper torn off presents just a few days ago are strewn here and there. I’m not sure how they find themselves in places far from the tree and the mess of Christmas day, but here they are dotting my dining room floor and hallway. I try to remember where I last put it. Seems like it has been at least a month since I last used my mat what with all of the festivities and work hours. It has to be lying around here—somewhere.

That’s when I find it, rolled up and lying beside my bed. Hello, you.

I stretch it across my bedroom floor and reach up to the ceiling in a sun salutation. As I pull down towards my toes I feel my hamstrings protest and I ease up. Go slow. I place my hands on my mat and step back into a clumsy down dog.

My mind races and I hear the TV in the living room with sounds of Assassin’s Creed and the dog rolling to his side and sighing. I should not be doing this—yoga. There is so much to do. My eyes catch sight of the overflowing laundry basket of towels that need to be folded and I think of the mound of clothes that need to be washed. I step forward into a lunge and steady myself. My weak quads do not want to pull my leg forward enough and I adjust.

I need this, I think.

Life is spinning, spinning, spinning. I can’t seem to find my balance. I reach my foot back and fall into a low push up  collapsing onto the floor and then reach into upward dog.

My neck cracks. Is that a dust bunny on the ceiling fan? I breathe out and push back into downward dog again. I can do this—just a few more minutes. 

Everything is pulling me everywhere lately. I can’t catch my breath and I can’t catch up. I am a working mom. I feel always behind and full of guilt and fear that I can’t handle things. I keep going—keep moving—because I know there is no time to stop. Except at night, my only solace is that I sleep in a deep, unmoving sleep, like a rock. I need a break but there is no time for a break. Taking breaks are for wimps. I am stronger than that.

I reach up again and inhale strongly, eyes closed. You can do this. No one said it would be easy, I think.  

I should be doing something more productive, though.

I find myself in child’s pose. It is here that I just don’t want to move. It’s dark and I can hear my breath—slow and shallow. Just resting here for a minute, I gather my strength. The sounds in the other room are faint and I know I won’t have much more time for this moment of quiet.

Tick tock. Tick tock. Breathe in, breathe out. Just give me a minute . Maybe I can’t handle this? Maybe I am not strong enough? Maybe I am just not enough.

I push back up into downward dog again as as a tear falls and my breath catches in my throat. Inhale, exhale. Step forward, reach up. So much pressure to get it right. Be aware, be present, don’t overprotect, don’t neglect, guide them lovingly, don’t lose your temper, don’t mess up. Find a balance—somehow.

I hear my dog’s nails click across the floor and the door opens slightly as he pushes it open with his nose. He whimpers his request for my attention. Just a bit more…almost done. I deserve this. I need this—for me.

I can’t be there for everyone all of the time. I can’t be everything, right? No one can be everyone’s everything. But who do I let down? I can’t let anyone down because I have to be more than that. I have to be stronger.

Collapsing back onto the floor in my weak semi-push up my dog takes this as a sign of play and wags his tail. I smile and lift my head up into upward dog again. It’s going to okay. This moment—this time make a a difference. This makes me stronger.

I finish in child’s pose. Breathe in, breathe out. A second of quiet and peace. I feel it all outside of this shell I have created. This dark sanctuary draws me inward—a place to recover. It’s all waiting for me just outside, but for this one second it can all wait and I don’t have to be everything. I can just be.

At least I did it. I made the time for just a few minutes of yoga—time for me. Bowing my head to my pooch I say Namaste as he snorts a reply. I roll up my mat and make my way back to the living room picking up the bits of wrapping paper as I go.

Breathe in, breathe out.


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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: lifesheimagined.tumblr


About Dana Gornall

Dana Gornall is a mom of three crazy kids and a dog. She works as a licensed massage therapist in Amherst, Ohio and is a certified sign language interpreter. She is always looking forward to even more personal growth. While not interpreting, doing massage, or being with her family she loves going to yoga. You can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.


23 Responses to “A Mother’s Practice.”

  1. edieyoga says:

    so beautiful Dana…really…

  2. Dottie Wagner says:


  3. Audrey says:

    Beautiful, I feel like someone poured my thoughts out onto paper. .. Thank you

  4. Gullagher says:

    Wow, this resonated with me today! Feels like you wrote my stream of consciousness!

  5. @DanaGornall says:

    Thank you so much, Dottie.

  6. @DanaGornall says:

    Audrey, it's so good to know I am not the only one…

  7. @DanaGornall says:

    Gullagher, it IS my stream of conscious. And it is so nice to know I am not alone in this. Thank you.

  8. Kristine says:

    As a mom of three crazy boys, 2 dogs, a cat and a ferret (and one tiny fish). I know this one. I try so hard not to rush through my yoga, but I always know my time is short. But at least the dogs and cat lay calmly around me, knowing this is needed time and they take advantage of my calm energy and take a nap. Speaking of, I have a back routine I need to do this morning, I can barely move.

  9. Candy says:

    Sounds so familiar. My thoughts over the holidays in my much needed yoga class attendance has been much the same. Although, I don't think we have to be this strong, I think we chose to.

  10. Carolyn Riker says:

    I think you were at my house too — thank you for writing such a beautiful piece on ordinary life and finding center in chaos via your mat.

  11. Cat says:

    Gorgeous Dana! Hugs to you—this craziness will only last so long, according to my grandma. Then, we miss it.

  12. That's so it isn't it – guilt over practicing because it's not "productive" and we're meant to be taking care of other people and other things… You write beautifully. Thank you.

  13. Darla says:

    Good piece, and we must always find a little time for ourselves, we all need it.

  14. @DanaGornall says:

    Thank you so much, Kara!

  15. @DanaGornall says:

    Candy, I feel like I do have to be this strong. Which is why it can be so exhausting. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. 🙂

  16. kellie says:

    Brought tears… a perfectly written description of what yoga is… the calm inner shell with the screaming world constantly swirling outside… somehow you captured it in real time, brilliant writing..reminding us exactly why it IS so important to take that time for us no matter how short. Captivating~ Thank You! namaste. Kellie

  17. Louise says:

    Yes! I'm with you on this, except…I didn't make the time to practice today and tackled the laundry instead. Glad to know I am not alone with these thoughts however. Thanks for sharing, it made me feel better. Namaste

  18. @DanaGornall says:

    Thank you so much for commenting, Kellie! I'm so glad you connected with it. Keep practicing…it keeps us sane. 🙂

  19. @DanaGornall says:

    Louise, sometimes our yoga is doing the laundry. That keeps us sane too. 😉 Thank you so much for commenting.