Since I started practicing yoga 16 years ago, not a week has gone by since I haven’t been on my mat. It isn’t even a choice any more. I have to do yoga. I don’t feel like myself if I don’t.
I feel like Robert Palmer in my addiction to yoga. Yet, rather than women in black dresses with red lipstick dancing around me pretending to shred on the guitar, I am surrounded by clones in harem pants and chakra tank tops sitting in lotus while they play the harmonium.
Practicing through Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Child-Rearing
My pregnancy didn’t stop or slow down my practice. I remember feeling my baby readjust her position when I would go in an inversion. There was something comforting about the fact I was doing a Headstand for two. It was nice knowing that all the benefits would be going to the both of us.
After giving birth, I was given the advice by a midwife to stay in bed for an entire week and never leave. Have my meals in bed—everything. She said stay in bed like it was my religion. This way my body would have the time to fully recover, and I could bond with my baby.
I followed her advice, then on the seventh day I said, “I’m going to get out of bed today and do some yoga”—much to the excitement of my family who had become my butlers.
But then, I had to ask myself probably the greatest and most complex question of parenting, “Who is going to watch my kid while I do that?”
Rather than trying to figure out a life where I always had to find childcare when I did yoga, I decided I would just do it with her. I went downstairs, rolled out my mat, put my daughter next to me, and got into a Downward Dog.
Ever since then, my kid has been practicing yoga with me. Well, if you call flailing around on your back and demanding a boob in your mouth every 20 minutes yoga—but at least she was in a real life “happy baby” pose.
Parenting as a Yogi
I guess it would be more accurate to say my child has been living her life in tandem with my yoga practice. She has had to learn to tolerate, accept, or participate in my yoga, and for the past four years it has worked for us.
It may not be the most focused yoga practice, nor is it without interruption. There has been nothing quite like my infant vomiting breast milk on my mat, or my toddler poking my butt while I was in a Bound Lotus Shoulder Stand.
Yet it is these moments that have helped me realize how much more the poses have to teach me.
Oftentimes she wants to “help,” which usually consists of her getting in my way and hanging off my legs. If I am in a Headstand, she thinks this is the best time to hug, or stare in my eyes while telling me how her baby doll doesn’t like popcorn and thinks spiders should dance, but only in the summer.
She also does respect that yoga is important to me, and more often than not gives me my time.
Integrating my child into my yoga practice transformed me as a person. ~Toni Nagy
I started to realize that yoga didn’t have to be this thing I completed in an hour and a half with x number of poses and y minutes of meditation. Rather, it could be more free-form and flowing.
I didn’t have to hold on to this rigid definition of yoga, but could relax into it. I now see that my approach in the past was too forceful and too serious. I was overlooking the joy to be found in the practice, and in many ways this also applied to my life.
There is nothing like my little girl asking, “Mamma, do you want to fart together” to remind me to laugh.
Image Credit: Toni Nagy