A personal reflection by Senior Yoga Teacher, Teacher Trainer, and mother of two, Jennifer Allen.
As I come to my mat on this particular sunny afternoon, I surrender into my child pose, offering my practice to the simple joy of 45 minutes of quiet, ‘me time’. As I breathe and settle, I take a moment to recognize how much my practice has changed and been humbled over the past few years since becoming a mother. I reflect on how I’ve traded in countless rounds of sweaty vinyasa-sequences consisting of headstands, handstands and forearm balances, in a packed evening class at my local fancy, urban studio, for clearing space in my lounge room and laying my mat amongst my child’s toys, and trying to focus on my practice while I count the dust bunnies underneath my couch.
Like so many things in my life, an evolution has taken place from what I thought mattered to what truly counts. Simplicity has become my mantra, on and off my yoga mat.
I had only just completed my RYT-500 teaching certification when I fell pregnant with my first child, a most soul-fulfilling accident. At the time I was still quite desperately attached to my strong yoga practice, and dismissed restorative yoga as only being for the weak and injured. I was on the path, but not yet ready to receive the subtle aspects of the practice.
Now further along on my yoga-journey, I often find myself sharing my more mature, ‘post-mummy’ philosophy with the future yoga teachers that I train: that the best yoga teachers are those who have been humbled by an experience that limits them.
The lesson I’ve learnt is to treat limitation, whether through physical injury or the gift of carrying a new life in my belly, as an opportunity rather than an impediment. I have learnt to embrace anything that has slowed me down as an opportunity to practice other aspects of my yoga, rather than just vigorous postures; whether that be working with the breath, or cultivating patience and surrender. These are the tools that have been most useful during some of my most challenging moments as a mother.
What advice can I offer from my own experiences as a yoga teacher-mum to every woman out there who embarks on the path of motherhood? I would say, take the time…roll out your mat, even if just for 5 minutes of peaceful space. Keep it simple, knowing that you don't have to do much to reap sweet reward from your actions. Breathe and honour your true self, resting in the place of knowing that no matter what you feel like on any given day, you are the best that you can be in that moment. Don't judge yourself for losing patience with your kids, your spouse, your boss, your friends...There is no external expectation for you to be superwoman. Trust in your yoga on and off the mat to guide you to your highest potential as a woman, as a wife, as a friend, and as a mother.
I feel so blessed to have yoga in my life; it is by far the best kept secret when it comes to parenting your children in a way that is mindful, honest, and filled with love. But why should it stay a secret? I want to yell out from the rafters to every woman I know that yoga is the way to maintain peace of mind during the single most challenging time in your life: motherhood.
Written by Jennifer Allen