How My Children Led Me to Practice Real Yoga
Notes of a Yogini Mother
Appeared in: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/07/how-my-children-led-me-to-practice-real-yoga-tatiana-montik/
Before my first child was born I practiced yoga for almost five years. I did it diligently and sequentially, devotedly twisting myself into pretzels, drawing bridges and striking swallow poses. I continued with yoga during my pregnancy, not missing a day and enjoying the new sensations in my inner world.
However, only having become a mother did I finally realize that I was led along the yoga path by… my children. I also realized another important thing: I am only at the beginning of the way and it does not mean that I will have enough strength to go all the way.
The matter is that yoga without the process of self-discovery is just gymnastics, a type of exercise – although a very deep one, helpful in learning about your body and improving it, but lacking the most important deep sense.
You can practice yoga daily, spend the whole day doing it, stand upside down day and night, be a vegetarian, abstain from alcohol, do breathing exercises and meditate, but you will not grasp its essence, if at the same time you do not start to manage your thoughts, calm your emotions, open your heart, serve other people and discover yourself.
It is easy to be nice, friendly and kind to other people, but under the condition that they do not storm into your life, demand undivided attention and full devotion, limit our possibilities, wishes and aspirations. But kids? Oh, those kids… That’s exactly what they demand from us! As annoying as it can be, it often happens exactly when we are absolutely not ready to give them what they want.
That is why the usual “Greeting the Sun” morning exercise turns into “the yoga of patience and care.”
Is your body sore? Do you want to twist yourself into the habitual pretzel or fly away as a swallow? Or a locust, in the worst case? Forget it! As soon as your baby is asleep and you have a free minute, you suddenly realize that you are terribly hungry, so you “waste” your precious time for “stomach yoga.”
Thanks God, children grow up fast and now you have a minute to do yoga together with a 1-year-old. But how do you concentrate on your inner world, when the baby constantly crawls away, tries to play with you or, being older, spouts endless questions at you?
Those are the moments when you best understand the meaning of “let it go,” “enjoy the moment,” “don’t be obsessed with your conceptions,” and “be here and now.” If we have enough love, strength and wisdom, the ability to self-observe and improve oneself comes to us instead of irritation. And after that – the capacity to be patient, understand and accept the others just the way they are.
This sounds a bit grandiloquent, doesn’t it? Be honest now: how often do your kids infuriate or even enrage you just by not listening, not hearing, and trying by all means to get what they want? How often are you tempted to answer with rage to rage, with anger to anger, and with a yell to a yell?
A classical example of my 4-year-old, who really seems to have iron will, which could lead him not only through walls and closed doors, but also carve his way through a mountain. This notorious iron will of his is often directed against mine, no less strong. What do I do? I have tried to act different ways, watching his and my own reaction. This empirical experience made me realize that only love and patience can subordinate such stubbornness. It is very hard to remember to be patient if you do not watch your actions and reactions; if you do not learn to control them, filling your heart with love. Here you go: that’s all yoga!
The majority of moms and many of grandmas practice real yoga without realizing it. Yes! It’s Bhakti yoga, the yoga of service and surrender. In my opinion, it is one of the hardest ways, and my next story is about it.
However, I will be honest in saying that being a mother and remaining a yogini, I have grasped something important for myself: in order for our kids to be happy, we should remain a little bit egoistic. That means not putting in the cooler your own interests and needs. How can a person who does not feel happy and fulfilled give love and happiness? Can you live in harmony with other people if there is no harmony inside of you? Having become a mother I realized that the search for myself is my main aim for now.
At the end, remember what the airplane instruction says: “In case of loss of pressure, please put your own oxygen mask on before assisting your child.” Do you think it is by chance?
Tbilisi, June 2, 2014