I don’t think that when I was a teenager, wearing black and listening to Joy Division, that the idea of me + yoga would have done much more than make me laugh hysterically. I mean how can you consider doing a lotus pose while wearing 18-hole doctor martens. But, as my fashion changed (thank heavens), my philosophy developed, and by the time I was in my mid-20′s I had honed a small understanding of the vast knowledge that is behind the study of yoga.
But it wasn’t until my trip to China that I actually studied yoga. For many days, I found myself in a room with 20 other women whose language I only had the most basic of handles on, learning, stretching and meditating. For me it was a point in my life that left a stain. A deepest impression that travelled with me as I returned home to Toronto, to my native land, to a language I could write in, to friends and familiar faces. I can’t say that I have given the study of yoga everything I have, but it has been a constant in my life.
When I became pregnant with Aodhan, yoga once again took on that China-kind of power for me. It wasn’t just me that was stretching into those pre-natal poses. Aodhan too, was feeling the hollow in my pelvis and the lengthening of my breath. Again in rooms stuffed full of women, in the middle of country where I felt unknown, I was studying and stretching. While labouring in our home, it was truly my practice of meditation and breathing that took my experience from one of pain to one of empowerment and excitement.
Only months into his life, as the newborn days of uncertainty left me, I started to practice the most basic of moves again, with Aodhan either in one of our carriers (mostly our Moby), or next to me on my mat. As he went from squirming newborn to confident infant and toddler, Aodhan became his own yogini and started to practice alongside me.
And now, as Aodhan slips closer and closer to starting his fourth year on this planet, I see the many ways that yoga functions as part of our Gentle/Attachment Parenting ways.
Aodhan’s dad knows his way around a physics lab and can play astounding music on his cello, but he knows nothing about yoga. I love that the practice I share with Aodhan is a special craft that mama and mama alone can share with my boy. It is to me that he looks to when he wants to perfect his mountain pose, and it is me he will show a new move to. I love the way he watches me when I bend or stretch. I can see his little mind working though the ways that he must stretch his limbs in order to mimic my pose.
I think that Kevin and I are still slightly in awe of the fact that we are planning a third (turtle themed!) birthday party and we have yet to see anything close to a tantrum. I am not bragging, I am just stating a fact. A fact that we are proud of. But, there are moments when Aodhan really wants something and he feels sad and frustrated, and one of the ways that we help him find ground is through meditation. Since the earliest months, I have worked with him to calm his breath and find ‘calm’. This is his focus word and he now knows how to find this inner peace on his own – and knows when to use it.
I’m not a big fan of toddler/preschool soccer, t-ball or any other competitive sport. I think it was Alfie Kohn who cautioned against any type of competitive sport until at least the age of 10. But in addition to walking, hiking, garden exploring, swimming and any other outdoor activity that is co-operative based, we also practice outdoors (Canadian weather permitting). Being able to practice tree pose under a tree is pretty amazing.
Like everything else in our small life, we find yoga practice so fun! The poses lend themselves to playfulness with names such as: cat, downward dog, cow, boat and mountain! What kid wouldn’t have fun?
By practicing yoga, both Aodhan and I are able to connect more deeply with our bodies. Aodhan is learning about his muscles by holding poses and stretching into new ones.
Keeping the Balance
For as much as I love to practice yoga with Aodhan, it is also something that I can do completely and utterly alone. Balance is an essential element in Attachment Parenting. The primary parent (if both of you are not at home), needs to find a space that is both mental and physical, that places them away from the tender child that they spend the majority of their time with. I have found that this is crucial in being able to fill myself up and maintain an inner peacefulness that transfers into all aspects of my mothering. Meditation especially gives me a release that even a 10km run has yet to afford me.
When Aodhan is done using the toilet he always goes into a downward dog pose for us. So cute!
The photos from this post were taken a year ago by a friend.
I am linking up to one of my favourite link-ups, hosted by: