I have been practising yoga for 22 years, teaching for more than 15 years and I’ve been a mum for nearly 12 of those years. I vaguely remember what it was like to have a full nights sleep, just like I vaguely remember what it was like to do a full yoga practice without being interrupted 17 times! It’s tempting to romanticise my pre-kids years immersed in yoga practice: the daily chanting, the trips to India, the body (not to mention headspace) that was all my own. And the even temper *sigh* … I thought I was such a chilled person … but that was before I had 3 mini me’s designed to push my buttons in every possible way at any given moment day or night.
And some days it’s tempting to look ahead. Surely it won’t be that much longer til I can do x,y,z by myself again. But what about the here and now? Yoga challenges us to front up to what is actually happening in this moment. To begin with, this might be as simple as being with the sensations in your hamstrings as you do a forward bend. Or staying with the flow of your natural breath as you lie in relaxation.
We have a running joke in our family that if someone is challenging us or we find them difficult to deal with then they are our “greatest teacher”. My children fulfil this role for me everyday. Like the zen master that claps his hands loudly next to your ear reminding you to WAKE UP! My youngest makes a fuss about which socks she wants to wear or insists on doing her own shoes up even although we are in a hurry and it takes her 5 mindful minutes to slowly complete the task. (Good on her right?) The middle child has such an enquiring mind that he is constantly asking questions about EVERYTHING and I have moments when I despair that I’ll ever have the headspace to have my own thoughts ever again. But when I stop and really focus on these little beings and THEIR needs and desires something amazing happens. My mind softens, my breath deepens, and I arrive here in this moment.
Legend has it that after years of rigourous studies Tirumalai Krisnamacharya, considered the godfather of modern hatha yoga (and teacher of B.K.S Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois (the ashtanga guy!), Indra Devi and his own son T.K.V Desikachar) was instructed by his guru to take the path of a householder. That is, to marry, have a family and become a yoga teacher. It’s easy to admire (or even envy!) those fabled ascetics who spend 30 years meditating in a cave but I reckon Krishnamacharya’s teacher was onto something. A spiritual path without the obstacles of normal daily life (work, family, relationships) is the EASY way. Our greatest teachers are the other human beings we encounter along the way ….