According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, “The room of sadhana (practice)…should be spotlessly clean and free from animals or insects…The appearance of the room should be pleasant.” Well if you’re a mom and think of your home as a place for sadhana, I have a feeling that it’s not going to follow these guidelines laid out by Swami Swatmarama. If you’re home is anything like mine, it’s constantly littered with toys, diapers, laundry and no matter how many hours I spend in the kitchen a day, that sink is never empty. When I practice at home, I can usually clear out an area to place my mat down, but my legs and arms are often fighting for space if they ever stray from the 21 square feet of the yoga mat. This is why we retreat to yoga studios where the calmness, cleanliness and open, uncluttered space is enough to bring tears to our eyes.
Each week I teach a Mama & Me yoga class for moms with their babies up to 2 years old. When I tell people I teach this class, many respond with a surprised, “The babies do yoga?!” No, definitely not. This class is specifically for moms, to whom I teach while her child learns to roll on a blanket next to them, or in some cases like my own, her child walks around to each mom to see what snacks they’ve brought to “share.” Because many of us moms cannot get a free hour to go to a yoga class, where we can bask in the austerity and cleanliness of the open space, there are opportunities throughout communities where we can bring our little ones to a class, a studio that is a safe place, to try to get some yoga in and join in a yoga-mom community.
While we do carry some of that clutter from our home to occupy our little ones during the mom yoga class, it’s most importantly a destination to help us keep the internal home for our deepest inner being clean and balanced. No matter how much or how little asana we actually get to practice during the Mama & Me class, it’s helpful, even for me as the instructor, to come to this communal spot to clear out and calm the ever racing mind. It’s an “anything goes” class, which I love, and which is the true embodiment of yoga. No attachments to the questionable circumstances that might occur when you bring your baby to class. Will I be nursing a lot? Will my child scream the whole time? Will my child nap the entire class for me to do an entire hour of yoga?! We have to be ok with whatever happens during that hour and just enjoy the energy of the mothers around us. While we try to work on asana sequences that strengthen the body, most importantly, we strengthen the concentration and attention of the mind to create balance and serenity. This community of moms is working together to keep the home for their inner beings, where the real sadhana happens, “clean and pleasant.”