What do you think of when you hear the term “yoga mom?” Do you imagine a spandex-clad woman with clear, glowing skin balancing a cherub-like baby on her hip while she effortlessly balances in Tree Pose? And we all know this isn’t the only thing she balances so easily—her own health, her family’s health, the running of her home, her fulfilling work, her charitable selfless service or seva? Maybe you think of a mom who feeds her children eat all-organic, healthy, homemade food and use all-natural non-toxic (probably also homemade) bath products. She’s a woman who adores her children, but she somehow still makes time to meditate and (obviously) do her yoga practice daily (most likely before the sun comes up).
Well, that’s a nice little fantasy isn’t it?
When I first had my daughter (and even before, when I was pregnant with her) I tried really hard to make my life look like that picture I had in my head. I was rigid. I tried waking up earlier to make time for my yoga practice only to either fall asleep on my yoga mat or I’d wake up the baby by accident. I’d eat healthy all day long, go for walks, and practice yoga during nap times. But, by the end of the day I would be SO exhausted and ravenous I’d send my husband out for ice cream (you’ve got to get those extra 500 breastfeeding calories in there somehow, right?). I also taught yoga, did lots of freelance writing work, made time for play dates so I could socialize myself and my little one, and you know what? I was completely exhausted, stressed out, and I felt like FAILURE, too. One day I realized, not only was I failing at being the prefect yoga mom, but I wasn’t enjoying any of it either.
I was doing the whole yoga mama thing all wrong—and it really had little to do with how much yoga I was doing or what foods I was putting into my body. I got it wrong because I wasn’t being kind to myself. I was pushing myself too hard, resting too little, and hating myself because I wasn’t doing it all as successfully as I wanted to. It’s OK. I was a new mom and I was learning.
See also Remembering the Newborn Days
Now that I’ve got a little more experience under my belt, I have a very different idea of what a yoga mama is. And it has a lot more to do with how you treat yourself than how many times you get your ass up out of bed before the sun to do Sun Salutations.
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