There’s all kinds of research and articles about the benefits of yoga and meditation. Studies about how they improve sleep, mental health, injuries and illnesses, but for me the most convincing proof of their importance in our lives is that we were all born knowing how to do them.
For me, becoming a mum came in a shrink-wrapped package with a few breakdowns and even more breakthroughs. You know, when you buy facial cleanser and get a free under eye gel roller taped to it? Kind of like that, only a little more…existential. The free bonus gift might not be something you even wanted, but you got it anyway and it might just be exactly what you need. I remember being struck very early on in motherhood by how complete and confident my kids were right from the start. They’re whole little people, with personalities and preferences. They’re not afraid to ask for what they need, they have no problem saying no and they basically meditate and do yoga all day long (in between all the eating, sleeping and pooping, of course.)
Babies breathe deeply from their bellies without having to consciously focus on it like grown up people do. Kids let out long, juicy sighs all the time and not out of frustration, just because that little extra release feels so good. It’s amazing to see toddlers do a perfect squat to play with blocks or puzzles, pre-schoolers watching TV in hero pose or inverted over the back of the couch and kids doing wheel pose on the front lawn because it’s fun and it feels natural to them. Come to think of it, both of my little people slept in child’s pose for months and months when they were babies (yes, they slept on their stomachs, no judgey eyes please).
Spending so many hours staring lovingly anxiously at my little people made me realize that somewhere along the way I had lost all of that. That sense of wholeness, the wisdom to listen to my body, to trust my intuition and the ability to do yoga just because and without even realizing that it is yoga. Over the years, life stripped it away from me: the rules, homework, routines, expectations, perfectionism and gossip chipped away at it, piece by piece. And now, I’m trying to relearn how to do what I was already born doing and somehow unlearned.
I find it both ironic and confusing. As a grown up, I have to schedule in time to relax and to make sure I’m taking care of myself. I have to remind myself to be mindful every day (sometimes every hour depending on the day). I have to pay lovely people to teach me yoga and go to meditation classes.
The truth is, I’ll likely never know exactly when or how I lost it, but now that I realize it was gone and I’ve felt that emptiness, it’s my job to work toward finding it again. That’s why I’m so grateful that I found a yoga studio where I feel comfortable and teachers I connect with. It feels less like work and more like fun again. I know that this is important in my life because I feel so much better when I am practicing and everyone notices that mummy is calmer and more patient. Maybe the how, when and why are not so important after all. Maybe this is all a lesson in itself, that I will always be learning, relearning and growing.