Early this month I taught a yoga class based on Love and Yoga. We can basically say that love and yoga are synonymous and that yoga without love is, flat out, not yoga. As I do for most classes when preparing, I grabbed my books and searched through the pages to find a thought that resonated with me to share with the class.
In the wonderful read, Erich Schiffmann’s Yoga: Moving Into Stillness, he says about love and yoga, “It’s the willingness to let go of what you think something is in order to see it clearly–as it really is…You welcome love–that is, you become able to see that which is Real in each and everything–by clearing your mind of prejudice and beliefs and then being with things as they are.” Perfectly stated, I couldn’t help but equate this not only to the practice of yoga, but to the divine and unconditional love as a mother/father. Parenthood is a selfless life where expectations of the journey and the child fly out the door the minute we hold our child for the first time, and we say, “We love you and will always love you no matter what.”
Very shortly after I had my daughter is 2013, the relationship between parenthood and yoga was pretty apparent to me, most specifically the aspects of patience, understanding, and breathing. When people would ask me how things were going as a new mom, I’d usually reply that this new adventure had become another component of my yoga practice in addition to my years of twisting, stretching, balancing, and studying.
However, it wasn’t until after my daughter was one that I was able to truly see how profound the journey as a mother would be to my ongoing practice. The first and only time that I’ve been away from my family was last summer at yoga retreat, specifically centered around Bhakti (devotional) yoga. While a beautiful practice, I hadn’t considered myself as a practitioner of this type of yoga, and this weekend was an exploration of something that was unfamiliar to me. As I sat at lunch one afternoon with a new friend, I was sharing some stories about my daughter and I began to cry. This didn’t usually happen when I talked about my daughter, and, flustered with embarrassment, I quickly wiped my tears and apologized. She quickly dismissed my excuses and said, “This is beautiful. This is complete love and devotion. This. Your apparent love truly is Bhakti.” She couldn’t have said anything more prefect, and her words shone an even greater light on the idea that my experiences as a mother will forever be one of the most influential teachers on my yogic path.
Most parents are not “yogis” or yoga practitioners in the terms of the strict definition, but I’d say all selfless and devoted parents embody a yogi more than he or she would ever know. Yoga is a practice of complete love and devotion, selflessness and giving, patience and understanding, non-judgement and acceptance. Sound like something else? According to the words laid out by Schiffmann, I’d say having a child skyrockets all parents on a yogic journey, whether they perceive it or not.