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November 29, 2017

My Yoga practice has Changed—But it’s still Yoga.

On more than one occasion recently, I’ve found myself on a yoga mat with a to-go coffee perched next to me.

Sometimes I’m wearing jeans, sometimes I’m not wearing pants at all. Every time it happens I’m tired and strung out, grateful just to be there—having just peeled a protesting toddler off my leg at preschool, grabbed my coffee to-go, taken a deep breath, and realized I need a moment to myself.

I find refuge at my local yoga studio—letting myself in, dimming the lights, and unfurling a borrowed mat before throwing myself on it like a long-lost lover.

A buzz-inducing almond milk latte isn’t part of what I picture as a traditional yoga practice. But life as a parent isn’t exactly how I pictured it, either.

Gone are the days when I could predictably roll out of bed at 6 a.m., throw on a pair of tights and a cozy sweater, make a lemon tea to take with me, and hit the studio for an hour before the sun rose. Back then I’d enjoy breakfast at my favourite café and the sunrise casting a pink glow through its expansive windows before heading to work.

Parenting changed all that in ways I could never have imagined. In the hustle of passing our child back and forth like a football, my husband and I barely have time for the things we once fiercely protected. These days, I’m doing well to make sure personal hygiene makes its way into the slivers of time that remain.

In this stolen half an hour between parenting and work, I collapse onto the mat with a deep longing, desperate to feel a connection to the earth as I press my forehead into its rubbery softness and breathe in its lavender scent. I begin to move, slowly at first, letting my body lead: allowing my chest to expand, my spine to roll, my limbs to stretch. Then my movements become more sporadic: strong side planks intermingling with yielding child’s pose, followed by the urge to do a few hopeless kicks toward handstand.

My rolling, impromptu, just-gotta-move practice slithers its way around the mat in stark contrast to the regimented sequence of my faithful Ashtanga practice and the scheduled mornings I used to enjoy here at the studio. I throw myself into whatever my body asks for—which is often slow and methodical these days.

Then the caffeine begins to get involved. I feel the jitters and keep moving—my arms shaking lightly in downward dog, my whole body vibrating just a little bit faster. I simply notice. My body would be responding this way sitting at my desk, or engaging in a conversation—the difference is that here, I’m aware.

So why not roll with it?

Because yoga isn’t contingent on cute tank tops, plinky-plonk music, and perfectly sequenced asanas (as much as I love all those things). Yoga doesn’t ask for perfection. It doesn’t always need quiet or a dimly lit room, or that inviting, essential-oil-infused mat. It doesn’t even need pants.

Yoga just asks us to be present.

For a moment, or an hour. As a friend so succinctly put it after I once taught a particularly chaotic mom and baby yoga class: “Are you moving and breathing? Then you’re doing yoga.” I would go one step further and say, “Are you aware that you’re breathing? Then you’re doing yoga.” Because some mornings my practice is to sneak away for five minutes and sit in silence with my breath.

Maybe yoga’s not your thing at all.

Maybe you’d rather go for a good, long run: clear your mind, feel the blood pumping through your veins, hear your rapid breathing in your ears. Guess what? That’s your yoga. Maybe you find your focus in the long strolls and precise putts of the golf green—uh huh, yoga. Or maybe the rhythmic clicking of knitting needles is what brings you back into yourself. Some might argue that you’re doing yoga then, too.

Lately, my yoga happens spontaneously: dropping into an exhausted uttanasana in the library aisles when my daughter’s storytime group isn’t looking. Taking a moment to connect with my breath as I’m driving home from the swimming pool. Sending my hands toward the sky, and a deep breath into my lungs in the midst of making supper.

Am I advocating for coffee yoga? No. No, I am not.

In a perfect world, yoga is a grounding practice—one where you can take time to sink into it, to feel yourself connect with the earth, your practice, your body. But sometimes, we just need to grab these moments when we can. Life changes. We change. Our coping mechanisms—be they yoga or something else—change along with us.

My yoga practice has certainly changed. But it’s still yoga.

Sometimes I feel like I’m clinging to that thread of my previous life, with the stubbornness of a toddler who’s decided she’s not going to preschool. I take a deep breath and hold on tight, knowing that one day this life will be the new normal, and yoga will be a part of it.

Likely coffee will, too. But maybe not at the same time.

~

Author: Amanda Follett Hosgood
Image: Memesville
Editor: Jen Schwartz
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton

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