My yoga practice is the single most important thing that I do physically that both rejuvenates me and relaxes me.
On my mat I feel alive.
My hair falls in my face. Sweat drips in little beads onto the sage green rubber beneath me.
I press my hands firmly into my mat, and I feel sensations in my body that I can’t in anything else that I do—even though I regularly enjoy multiple forms of exercise.
On my mat I harness my strength.
On my mat I fall into my exhaustion.
On my mat I fold neatly and feel the release of tension from all along my spine—crown of head to tips of toes.
On my mat I am alone, yet completely connected to everything that exists around me.
My yoga practice is the single most difficult thing for me to commit to right now.
Don’t get me wrong—I have no problem devoting chunks of time to my practice.
I have no problem, either, with motivation; I’m motivated by my sore body, or my tired heart, or my need to simply feel my breath nearly every single day. That said, to me, my practice is so much more than flopping in and out of postures. It’s much more, too, than a specific sequence that opens my hips or stretches my hamstrings.
To me, my yoga practice is a moving mediation—and it’s this mindfulness that I have difficulty accessing as I full-time parent two active young children.
I can lift weights with my kids around—both of my daughters actually almost enjoy watching me do this.
I can do Pilates—yes, I have to focus on breath and musculature, but this type of focus is much less precise and internal than with a yoga practice.
But I make the time, however challenging, to get on my mat and—here’s the thing—I’m never sorry.
I’m always, always grateful I did.
My husband comes home from work and I feel like all I want is a glass of wine and someone else to help me have that ever-vigilant parental eye; but when the day was hard or overwhelmingly long, and my shoulders are tight from an afternoon of child-frustration, this is precisely when I know that my intention for that glass of wine isn’t ideal.
I don’t want to need a glass of wine—frankly, I don’t really want to need my yoga practice either.
And at times in my life when I had awesome practices essentially every day, I could much more easily get into that space of yoga—where I’m fully present in this moment, and not over there or over there—when I needed to, without hopping on my sage green mat—because it is a practice.
We really can, and do, get better at practicing “real” yoga—this mindfulness and full attention within the space that we currently inhabit—if we practice, often.
It’s also easy to make excuses to not practice when we “only have 30 minutes” or “haven’t for the last few days anyways.” Instead, this is exactly when we need to regroup—and recommit—the most.
So I take out my sage green mat.
I unroll it at the center of the family room, where I can hear baby toys clanking together in tiny hands and cheerful singing and playing.
I do this happily, even if reluctantly, because I know that while I might not be able to crank out more than 20 minutes or finish the sequence that I had in mind or even do more to close it out than sit in simple cross-legged position for 30 seconds, I can be a living example to my children of self-care and, mostly, I know I’ll feel better.
Just this simple act of setting my intention to practice yoga—and, by default, self-love—makes me feel better.
I move through my day with much more ease, both in my joints and in my mind.
And on my mat I remember that my practice is still beautiful—it’s just different.
Different really is good.
Life is not meant to stagnate.
On my mat I flow and move and breathe, and I open to the possibility that I truly am right where I’m meant to be, here in Mommyland—even if there are more yoga detour signs.
Author: Jennifer White
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Courtesy of the Author