Pregnant with my first daughter, I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training. Between my yoga practice and my experience teaching first and second grade, I thought I had done my due diligence. I thought I was ready for motherhood.
Then reality hit — I had a colicky, milk intolerant, bright-eyed, beautiful newborn in my lap who hated being in the car, in her swing, or swaddled in a moby wrap. For the first six months of her life, she was in my arms and I was bouncing non-stop.
Motherhood. It is the place where I discovered the truest benefits of my yoga practice. And no, I’m not talking about the poses. More than my undergraduate degree in elementary education, the 200 hours I spent training to be a yoga teacher kept me sane. It still did not prepare me to care for a newborn, but it did help me (try to) stay connected in the present moment. Despite 55 hours of labor ending in an emergency C-section, troubles nursing, sleep deprivation and postpartum anxiety, I could control each breath. Each inhale. Each exhale.
Things got easier. My husband and I caught up to the stride of new parenthood. Then, we had our second milk intolerant, bright-eyed, beautiful daughter.
My colicky babies have turned into tantrum-throwing, independent, assertive, and at times sassy, preschooler and toddler respectively. When they scream “NOOOOO,” I fight the urge to scream back “YESSSSSS!” Instead, I find my footing. Inhale. Exhale. I remind myself of my yoga practice, the mindfulness and compassion. Isn’t that all that life is – practice? We show up each day and try our best to work through whatever is in front of us. I am grateful for each day. Even for my demanding girls, because after all, isn’t it better I am raising a strong woman who at such a young age has no problem saying no and meaning it with all her heart. Isn’t that exactly what the world needs? Though, not necessarily when they are negotiating an extra few minutes when it’s already past bedtime.
Inhale. Exhale. I know I will fondly look back at these days and wonder where all the time went when they’re in grade school, high school, college. I can only imagine where our journey will take us between now and then. However, I know the patience I am fostering through my yoga practice now will help me come teenage years. I believe all mothers, however you came upon this path, are living in a postpartum world trying to reconnect to ourselves, rebuild our bodies, settle our mind and remember our spirit. It is a never-ending rollercoaster ride, but one we can certainly pause in the present and enjoy.
I’m thankful for the blissful moments on my yoga mat, reveling in the sweet treat of my twice weekly yoga practice. My at-home practice can be less sweet, but it fits in where and when it can. Some days I’m blessed with 30 or more uninterrupted minutes for movement or meditation, some moments it means my girls are practicing next to me or under my feet. Other times I’m interrupted every minute or so; I’m called of my mat to be a mom and then back again to try and be present. When I’m practicing alone I’m grateful for the moments away that I’m able to cultivate presence of mind and create some space so that I’m able rebuild myself and my energy and patience for my family. When I’m practicing with my kids, whether they’re sitting or moving with me, or calling me away from my mat, I grateful that they’re able to see the importance of taking time to rebuild yourself, even if it’s 5 minutes at a time.
Sarah Lafortune teaches at Samudra on Tuesday nights (Vinyasa, followed by a Yoga for Busy Moms Class), and a Friday night restorative class. She believes that with practice and compassion, anyone can quiet the mind and experience the benefits of yoga both on and off their mat. When she’s not practicing, Sarah enjoys her time with her husband, daughters, and their sweet pups (all of whom, are her greatest teachers).