A post about becoming a mama and realising I knew shit.
An opportunity to open my eyes and recognise how yoga helped me journey through birth and in the world as a mama.
The art of being in the present moment
Time Literally stood still for me at points on my journey into motherhood; in pregnancy, lying awake at 2am with tingling pins and needles and definitely in labour when time just disappeared altogether.
It's funny but unlike some challenges in life, you can't rush through pregnancy. You can't skip a bit you don't like, and ultimately you have to sit and be with whatever comes up both physically and emotionally. Equally a baby has no concept of time, of night or day or of routine. I found this so weird when I first became a mama and thought about it a lot. The thing that most humans are programmed to function around and which often gives our world structure and control suddenly holds little weight or value.
Having a baby is a perfect lesson in the art of living in the present moment.
Like the process of being pregnant, you really have no control over a baby. They do what they need to do in the moment and they demand that you follow their lead. This may turn your world upside down in the beginning, the lack of control over, well to be honest, anything, can be scary. But as I sat with this as a new mama (and lets face it, there is LOTS of sitting) it made me realise how much my yoga practice had been a powerful training tool for life with a baby. Much like a yoga pose I would struggle with, wanting to avoid it, get out of it, or move, would often take over. Of course with a yoga pose you can choose at any time to come out of it if. The process of pregnancy and labour was a wonderful life lesson for me, if I actually wanted to heal, restore, and understand my mind and body, I had to face the agitation, frustration, discomfort and bloody sit with it.
Motherhood like my yoga practice, is a mind game and the challenges are their everyday. Sometimes new, sometimes old and more often than not, in the mind rather than the body. Its so annoying but true, that all good things take hard work and commitment and often there is a bit of discomfort along the way. The discomfort might be physical but more often it is obstacles of the mind that cause the greatest obstructions to us living a life of freedom. It seems when we free the mind, more often than not, the body will follow. This served me well when I was giving birth. For me what made it calm and manageable was accepting I wasn't going anywhere, I was committed and I was facing all that I experienced, felt and thought, head on.
You have to be present with your body and your mind to really understand and work with what's there. Letting go of frustration, annoyance and judgement of self or others and just being present is for me, one of the most difficult aspects of my yoga practice but is also one which has the most positive impact on my daily life. Sad but true, it's a most humbling practice and done daily has opened my eyes to a whole new world of thinking, feeling and being.
Rest - Learning about self care
It made me laugh a lot in the beginning and I've come to the conclusion that sleep is definitely a taboo Subject for parents. For self preservation, I've decided that with most people, it's best to just not go there. It becomes an exercise in self torture to hear that so and so's baby sleeps 'through the night', while you find day to day you are lucky if you can get your baby to catch a glimpse of his inner eyelids and night times consist of counting minutes rather than hours, that baba has been asleep. I find surrounding myself with like minded mamas has saved me many a time. Being around someone who gets it is sometimes all it takes. Even if we do try to convince each other that 'it's 'amazing' that baby slept for approximately 45mins without waking'!
There is no getting round the fact that rest is needed. It's vital, and I am more acutely aware of how much rest I am getting now more than ever. Granted this is because I'm not getting very much. But what I've realised is, it's the way we rest that's more significant than how much (I hear you mamas with energy fuelled sleep intolerant babas - there is hope!). It's all to easy when we are busy to cram everything in and skip the bit we view to be a 'waste of time'. Rest and simply sitting without stimulation was something I have always found really bloody difficult. I now savour and dream of this time in my waking life! My son has taught me this and I am eternally grateful. I now also recognise the aspects of Yoga I felt were less important are in fact invaluable and the most important for me to gain a greater understanding of my truest self and find a sense of balance and calm with my body and mind. Needless to say, I have a new found respect and understanding for the power of Shavasana or corpse pose, and note to my old self - it is so much more than 'lying down'.
Patience - Slowing down and noticing the detail.
I learnt very quickly, that you can't rush a little person! Yes they will stop and look at every crack in the pavement. Yes, daily walks will be circular, as you fail to walk in a forward direction but rather meander round and round looking for yet another 'stick'! Repetition, routine and the word mundane, will take on a whole new meaning as you read the same story 4million times a day. Spontaneity is not a word which is often associated with parents of young children. But I sort of think this depends on how you look at it. Spontaneity as a concept can be grossly misinterpreted, I for one have been victim to this. I used to think I was spontaneous because I went out and got wasted in the middle of the week! Or got take out instead of going home and cooking a balanced meal. Now I sort of feel like these were just opportunities to avoid my life. These are completely enjoyable and wonderful things to do but I wasn't doing them consciously. I watch my 20 month old son and amazingly, right there, I see spontaneity in action. Babies are innately spontaneous. They don't over think, worry or antagonise, they just do. Maybe because they are so acutely aware of their themselves and also 100% tuned in to the natural rhythms of the earth. I never thought I would get to study the exterior and interior of a tractor or digger so closely. Or to marvel at a crack in the pavement. My Patience, observation and awareness is growing and with it a recognition of how ridiculously fast paced I lived my life before. How switched on (or should I say, how wired I was), yet, how desensitised I was to the world around me. I thank my son for teaching me and opening my eyes and I am grateful for having yoga in my life as a daily presence that reminds me of this.
A Daily practice - How Yoga's helped me transition into motherhood
And here I will stop harping on about yoga and say only this; I can honestly say that yoga has helped me navigate my way as a mother. Maintaining a consistent practice has taken determination and willpower. Avoiding and working with injury has required me to show both love and kindness to myself. Developing my practice has involved changing my mindset by meeting frustration and anger with softness. Yoga has helped me deal with trauma, frustration and unhappiness by grounding me and providing a space to learn about myself.
I would encourage anyone to go find their 'yoga' whatever it is for them, something that helps them to get to know themselves, offers space and sanctuary to develop an understanding of their body and mind. Something which enables us to restore health and vitality, and helps you create a sense of balance and peace in everyday life - in essence something which makes you feel alive.
I am happy yoga found me. It continues to provide a way for me to evolve, heal and restore vitality and for this I am grateful every day. Now don't get me wrong, I love learning about a pose, building strength or flexibility and yes its really fun to be upside down and learn things you never dreamed you could. All these things make me feel alive and playful but this is only a surface layer of all that yoga is for me. For me yoga's power comes in the opportunity it provides me to inquire, observe and create space were I felt there was none. An opportunity to open my heart in ways I didn't know possible. To acknowledge and embrace the parts of me I dislike and see them as opportunities to learn and grow. For me yoga is a humbling practice, a journey of acceptance and patience, where I get to make peace with myself and from this, feel only love. I know honestly that this is the only way I have survived motherhood! (well its helped alot and shit I need all the help I can get).