Ashtanga’s 7th Series – The Invisible Practice

Dear mums out there … please stop apologizing for your practice. Please!

You certainly don’t have to explain – or feel bad – about not getting up before dawn, to practice your yoga. It’s not heresy you’re committing if you only can squeeze in practice during nap times, evenings, or by the pool while your kids are at swim practice. No one should dare judge you for ANY variations you see fit to make.

And I certainly am not going to tell you to “try harder” and  “just wake up earlier.

Because I already know: you don’t just wake up early – but you wake up ALL NIGHT LONG. In fact, once you have children, you will NEVER sleep through the night. Even when your kids are in college or working on a farm in England. You will still wake up throughout the night and hold them close, even when they’re far.

Though sleep is the least of what anyone sacrifices. And mums already understand sacrifice so well that it’s as ridiculous as it is maddening to hear someone explain what this means in terms of a yoga asana practice.

There will be much in your life you sacrifice in the name of motherhood and sleep with be the least of it. In fact, what others call sacrifice are luxuries in your world. And I’m not just talking about things like going to bed early or not having a social life – you will not be able to grieve when you’re sad … sleep, when you’re tired … or scream, when you’re angry.

Your emotions and your needs, will all have to wait until you have served the little ones whose needs are more important and depend on you to know this.

I realize you won’t complain and you won’t even call it a sacrifice – you’ll call it a choice. Even though, it isn’t this either because for you, there really isn’t one. It’s called being a mum. And so from this mum, no further explanation is necessary.

Because once you became a mum, you immediately realized something both beautiful and terrifying:

You are not the most important person in this world.

Of course, you never were (even before kids), but now that Truth is driven home. It is the law of service. And this IS your primary practice.

Oh …  I hear you. And I know you feel invisible. In a way, you are.

“When (mothers) have borne their children and given them their milk and beauty and strength, they themselves become invisible, and no one asks about them any more.” (Hermann Hesse, Journey to the East)

But really, that’s also the beauty of YOUR practice. You are gifted this experience of both transcendence of time and space – and in a very real way. You feel insignificant because your children take on one greater. You understand that the progression of life is not measured in your short years but through the generations. And if you’re a grandparent, I imagine you know this in an even more meaningful way than any of us.

Still, I get that in a social world where liquid spines and press-up handstands still dominate our feeds – it’s easy to feel defeated. Like you don’t fit in. To begin to feel beat up by an asana practice that has nothing to do with yoga.

So stop. Don’t stop practicing, but stop beating yourself up – and for both of our sakes, stop justifying your practice to me. Don’t you realize? I am one of you. And I already understand the serious and powerful nature of your practice.

Many others do too. Just listen to Jessica Walden in this most recent Ashtanga Dispatch podcast – or read what Stan Byrne has to say in the Second Series Dispatch. And there are plenty of dads out there … Tim Miller, Taylor Hunt, and Eddie Stern come to mind immediately.

Though mums in particular – we may be invisible to others, but we do see each other. Don’t lose sight of this. You are NOT alone. And in fact, you may very well dominate practice rooms (and living rooms) all over the world.

Still, if a teacher does come along and tells you to “just wake up earlier” so you can “make more progress,” forgive instead of apologize.

Carry on and understand, they do not know what they do not know. Understand that having children isn’t the only way one can experience what Ashtangis call, Seventh series – but could arguably be the easiest, if not the quickest. And so sadly, not everyone will get there.

As Hermann Hesse quotes Siddhartha in, The Journey to the East:

What they do not see and distinctly feel

Inexperience, I believe

Will give little credence to my song.

Please mums, keep singing, however softly. Our world and our future depend on your lullabies.