November 13, 2014

Why We Don’t Need to Practice Yoga Every Day to be an Advanced Yogi.

yoga beach

Being a Mama is hard. Damn hard.

When I became a mother, my life was turned inside out and upside down. I changed, irrevocably.

But I still held onto the idea of who I once was. I was desperately grasping for my past life and trying to hold onto the stories of who I thought I would become or how I envisioned my life would unfold.

But I’ve changed. And my life as I knew it, had to change too. And letting go and embracing that change, proved to be even more of a challenge.

Gone are the days of the two hour Ashtanga home practice. Gone are the Mysore mornings. It feels like a lifetime ago that I practiced six days a week, consistently.

Now, I typically unroll my mat at home three times a week.

Some days I get a good, strong, sweaty flow and other days it’s a nice soothing yin practice. Yet other days, it’s Savasana. My whole practice is straight up Savasana.

It’s been a big change.

It took me a really long time to be okay with this new reality. I used to beat myself up. I used to feel so much shame. I would compare myself to other yogis and their seemingly flawless practice/body/life.

How could I possibly be a yogi? How could I be a good, authentic yoga teacher and not have a serious, consistent, dedicated home practice?

But, I just can’t.

Yes, I can make time. Of course. And I do. I carve out my “‘me time,” unroll my mat and I dive into the bliss of my practice.

But it just looks different now. And it’s okay.

I’ve always been a girl that thrives in a community setting. A jam-packed class with sweaty yogis in every direction, breathing together, growing together—this is where I always felt comfortable, motivated and inspired.

My life, at this point in time, simply doesn’t allow for this kind of commitment. Running a busy yoga studio, teaching 10 classes a week and unschooling my three little ones leaves very little time for much else. And when it does, it generally means a home practice. And when I unroll my mat, well hot damn, sometimes a restorative practice is just what this mama needs.

Engaging in a dedicated asana practice—getting stronger and feeling deeply changed—is a wonderful thing. It was a monumental part of my life for a very long time and it will be again, to be sure. But in this moment, for me, the deepest and truest way to practice yoga is to gratefully get on my mat when I can, show up for my family with presence and know that I am exactly where I need to be.

It took me a while to accept that at this crazy beautiful stage in my life, I need to slow down.

Maybe I don’t wake up at 5:00 a.m. to practice, maybe I’m not practicing second series Ashtanga, but my life is unfolding the way its meant to, and accepting myself as I am, as things are, in this moment, with love—that’s yoga.

Hinging our worth on how many hours a week we spend on our mats is missing the whole point. Our yoga practice should be a wonderful source of nourishment, not guilt, not shame, and the ebb and flow of our yoga practice is a reflection of the ebb and flow of our life. And how we choose to ride those waves is what yoga is all about.

Now, I gently remind myself that yoga is everywhere.

Yoga is everywhere. 

It’s in the mindful way I do the dishes, it’s in the thoughtful bed time routine with my darlings, in our shared mealtimes, in the conversations with my loved ones and in the decisions I make, in each and every moment of my life.

Showing up. Listening. Opening space in our hearts and filling it with love. Yoga.

Love elephant and want to go steady?

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Author: Shannon MacLaggan

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Used with Permission from Brittany Gillman Photography

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Shannon MacLaggan