For a year and a half, starting when Chloe was about 9 months old, I got myself to yoga 2-3 times a week. This was a priority for me. I was still nursing Chloe (still am), I was home with her for much of the week, and I needed this space, this sacred space, for me.
I’ve always been pretty sedentary, so it was a big deal in my life to start exercising like this. It was so much deeper than exercise too. Yoga hits to the core of my spirituality. I am in tune with myself, with a sense so much greater than myself, and with a sense of community all at once when I am surrounded by other yogis and on my mat.
I felt good. I felt balanced. I felt recharged for whatever Chloe threw at me, though we still had some rough and difficult days, as we all do. I noticed such a change and was really proud that I was taking such good care of myself, and asking for the support to help me do so.
A few months ago, Chloe’s sleep schedule started to change. She’d always been a night owl, staying up late and sleeping in, and that worked for us. Suddenly, she started getting up earlier and we realized that we needed to try to shift her bedtime earlier too so that she didn’t lose out on precious sleep. Out the window went my evening yoga class, and I found myself thrown into months without even a single class, without a home practice because I’d never been good at cultivating that for myself.
I felt the change. I felt more easily frustrated, yearning for body freedom from my nursing child, a need for space that I felt I didn’t have anymore. When Chloe wasn’t home, I was filling my time doing work for my business and trying to stay on top of cleaning the house (a constant job of laundry, dishes, floors, bathrooms, clutter and everything else). Even after letting go of lots of stuff and creating more space, there was still so much stuff. I felt like I was drowning.
I became more irritable. I was shorter in my temper with Chloe and with others. I was too tired to spend time with Jon in the evening after we finally got Chloe to sleep (despite trying to shift her to an earlier bedtime, it’s been a struggle to make that successful).
I could feel that I was losing myself.
I knew that yoga classes in a studio weren’t in the cards for me right then. At the suggestion of a friend, I signed up for a membership to an online yoga site – unlimited classes, varying lengths and intensities, and I’ve used it a few times. When I’m in the house, motivation to take time for myself on my mat gets hard.
One day recently, I realized that something had shifted. In her most frustrating times – the times of not eating, of hours resisting sleep, of fighting tooth brushing time, I had learned to find the calm. The voice that didn’t get frustrated back but was soothing, gentle, and compassionate. Did this make those times disappear? No, but it made them easier for me and I’m sure for Chloe as well.
So what happened?
Without even being fully conscious of it, I began to create space for myself in little ways.
The ritual of my morning pages, whether an interrupted 1 page or a full 3 pages of writing out what’s on my mind, clearing the cobwebs to make space for a beautiful day.
The ritual of my morning cup of tea with lemon juice (sometimes this happens in peace and quiet at the beginning of my day, sometimes it’s later in the day, with Chloe, but it’s there).
The gentle flow of laundry into washer, washer on, laundry out of dryer, laundry folded (or stuffed in a bag to sort, fold, and put away later – that’s truth).
The ritual, not daily, of cutting and pasting from magazines. Finding images and words that fill me with joy, sometimes used right away and sometimes added to a growing pile.
The not-quite-yet ritual of my budding interest in re-exploring my creative self – through a self-discovery art journey that I am participating in online. I’m behind, but present to the fact that I’m taking these steps.
The ritual of responding to Chloe with peace, calm, love and compassion when she’s having a rough time. That feels so much better than fighting back, resisting what she’s exploring.
The ritual of being able to walk into my kitchen, cut up some veggies or put a quick healthy snack together, being able to recharge and nourish my body through food. I love this. I’m not a pro yet, I don’t find the ease that my mother does in the kitchen but I know that with practice, one day, I’ll get there.
The ritual that is growing of walking my talk, most especially and most importantly with Chloe. THIS is why it is so important to take care of myself as the foundation. If I’m off kilter, she feels it. She picks up on everything.
If I want her to sleep well, eat well, enjoy life and express herself creatively, I have to show her that I am doing the same. If I want her to find calm, peace, and compassion, I have to show those things to her in my interactions not just with her, but also with the world around me.
Have I found my way back to my yoga mat? In pieces, moments here and there. My body needed it last night – a sore back, a tightened jaw, so I stood in the bedroom in ragdoll. She shimmied under me as if I was a tunnel, and emerged to do ragdoll next to me.
Is this yoga she asked? Yes, this is yoga.
I moved to the bed and decided I needed some time with my legs up the wall. She climbed onto the bed.
Is this yoga too, she asked? Yes, this is yoga. And up went her legs next to mine.
I moved through a few rounds of cat/cow.
Is this more yoga? Yes, this is yoga. And there, on the bed, she started to find her flow.
I am learning to live yoga not just on the mat, in the postures, but off as well, in my daily interactions with the world, in my actions, my words, my compassion and love.
I’m starting to feel the change again. Back to good, to balanced. And I welcome it, in whatever form it comes.
Are you ready to discover how you can create this space to nourish yourself, and nourish your family? Join us for Nourishing Mama: 4 Weeks of Starting with You (we begin on October 25). Learn more and register here.
Peace, Love, and Wellness,