It took one year for me to establish a devoted, consistent practice, and it took eighteen months to break it down. Despite my best intentions, nurturing a baby, a home and a husband has taken over my carefully designed practice. The traps I used to warn my students of became the source of my own demise. Who can lay out their mat when the floor needs sweeping? Who wants to work out in the morning when you've been up all night trying to comfort a cranky baby? Who can fathom another forward fold, after forwarding folding this week's laundry? Plus there's all that hippie stuff I insisted upon: baby food doesn't make itself (oh, wait), and cloth diapers don't wash themselves, if you know what I mean (oh, but if they could... if they could...). Suffice it to say, there hasn't been a lot of asana happening in my house. (Insert your own "ass"-ana joke here...)
I tried a few of those Mommy & Me yoga classes. The first few, while delightful, fell right around nap time, so my relaxation was short-lived. Nothing can ruin one's self-composure like a drive home with an overtired, screaming infant in the backseat. When at 12 months Juna transitioned to one nap, we found a lovely morning class. However, some 3-year-old kept pushing my sweet little girl over, and his Mommy's soft and lilting "no, no, no's" did little to dissuade him from attacking my child. That was the end of that, I'm afraid. (Oh, and p.s., you can be a compassionate, kind, yogi parent and also set boundaries for your kids....)
Lately, I thought perhaps it would be nice to practice with Juna. Ha! She really doesn't like it when I bend over, and will run to my side and grab hold of my ponytail to pull me up. She and the pup take turns crawling under me in downward dog. Savasana confuses her, and she'll stand above my "final relaxation" patting my head and trying to sing the ABCs.
I also did that thing where I told myself that practicing yoga doesn't happen on the mat, and that is TRUE. Yoga is a lifestyle, and while washing the dishes with extreme attention and care can be a meditational and devotional act, it doesn't address my physical misalignments. I'm also not evolved enough to stay above the daily stresses of being a person in this society. I fall prey to gossip, negativity and tension. A physical practice, be it on the yoga mat or the spinning bike, clears my body and head of toxins and allows me to maintain equilibrium in the face of stress. As B.K.S. Iyengar says "Penetration of our mind is the goal but in the beginning to set things in motion, there is no substitute for sweat."
Of course, hitting bottom physically has come with its' own reward. For so many years, I've been flexible, fit, injury-free and able to practice at my own whim. As a teacher, it was very hard to relate to my students that can only practice sporadically, or have injuries or stiffness. Now, I practice with a bum hamstring, a tender lower back, less flexibility and a little more... um.... body than I used to have. It's been very instructive as I re-learn the practice in this new body. It's an opportunity to practice restraint, and to feel frustration when I am unable to do what used to be easy. Everyone says this, but it's true: after giving birth you have a completely different appreciation for your body. I would add that you also derive a lot of confidence from surviving the first year with a new baby. No matter what kind of experience you have, or how easy your baby is, the transition from carefree, hip, young married people to overtired, anxious, responsible parents is huge.
After five months of insomnia, contracting every cold imaginable, injuring my back twice, and feeling run down physically and emotionally, I literally had no choice but to put more effort into my body. The excuses will always be there, right next to the dirty laundry, dust bunnies and dishes. Slowly, I'm getting back on track with some yoga, spinning, walks and some old fashioned stretching. It requires planning ahead, and leaving the little gal with my husband (Daddy's Girl never minds, and neither does he). I also recently discovered this Nike Fit app that has half-hour workouts that Juna finds incredibly entertaining. Apparently, I look ridiculous running in place and sumo squatting. But, hey, if I can break a sweat and get a smile from my little darling, that's good enough for me!
Yoga is a practice, not a perfect. It's a lifelong journey for me so this bump in the road isn't too concerning. All right, busy people out there, leave behind your excuses and let's get moving!