Practice at Home..... with children.


This is something that I think about a lot.  Because, well, I do it a lot.  And perhaps it has become normal to me but only because I made it so.  As a woman who is a yoga practitioner, who is also a yoga teacher,  who is also a wife, who is also a mama, it is shockingly hard to find a model of a successful woman yoga teacher out there who also happens to be a mama.  There just are not that many.  And, yes that is beginning to shift a bit now, but SLOWLY.  And we are having to create what it is on our own with very little if any guidance whatsoever.   I find this emergence both crucial and thrilling.  

I wrote the following piece during the first session of Chrisitina Sell's Asana Junkies webinar in January of 2013.  My kids were younger then.  And my vision was not quite as clear as it is now.  I hadn't yet made the choice to homeschool my kids.  I had not yet fully embraced the vision of my home being the actual nexus for yoga as I know it.  But there was a spark.  There was a knowing.  And many things sprung forth from that.  

I am very lucky in that I have had a teacher who for the entire 15+ years of my relationship with her has always said to me: The Yoga of Family comes First.  No matter what.  It did not matter that it was not her dharma to have children, she totally got it.  And has supported me throughout.  That one simple statement, has made all of the difference in the world.  Because my family does come first.  My husband.  Our children.  Our lives together.  The yoga exists as a way of living more fully into the choices that I have made in this particular context.  Not as a way for me to somehow slip outside of that.  

So here it is.  The spark of something.  My own particular beginning and clarifying down a path.  In fact, when I look back on it, all of the work that I am currently doing in my teaching is to support this vision.  Of yoga practiced within the context of our day to day.  Within our mess.  Within the unsettled upheavel of us, who we are.  Right now in this very imperfect, unhoned, transient moment.

I just wanted to speak to something here that was mentioned very briefly on the webinar today regarding practicing at home with small children. I think that in general with little kids at home we often tell ourselves as the adults who care for them that we cannot practice while they are in our care. However, I do not think that this is the case. I think that in fact it is really fantastic modeling for them to see their parents engaged with their passions, whatever they are. I have always practiced with my kids at home, whether they were napping, playing with one another or on their own. Provided that I have assured the safety of their environment, I can generally get in some very decent time on my mat. Granted, it does not always go how I want it to. Some days the shit hits the fan and they are not game for my attention to be withdrawn from them. But more often than not, they love the energy that it creates and recognize it as a natural and safe home activity. My littlest is 3 and a half now and some of my best practices happen when just the 2 of us are home and he will often leave me be for up to an hour and a half. I think that having to depend on themselves for entertainment is a really valuable skill, and we do not do tv here so they are out of luck in that regard. Also, I should mention, that I am absolutely not into kids yoga. I think that it is great that it exists and that people love to teach it. Awesome. Just not for me. So, that is not what is going on at home when mama gets her mat out. Maple, who is 7 now, will sometimes decide to practice with me, but it is not disruptive. They are free in that way. And they are comfortable with that. I have not tried to separate my practices from them or our lives together. They are as likely to join me in chanting as they are in other household activities like cooking or crafting. It is available to them but not about them directly. OK, this is longer than I had originally intended, but I aim to offer a little bit of support and hope to all of the stay at home mamas and papas doing the good work of raising children. And while it is so wonderfully overwhelming, intense and challenging at times, lets not rush these precious early years.

(Alright, as an afternote, I want to say that my kids do occasionally watch a program or movie while I am practicing or teaching a private.  They also do kids yoga.  And they LOVE it.  One of my mentorship students introduced me to Cosmic Kids Yoga, they have a youtube channel.  My kids adore it.  Jamie, the teacher is amazing.  It is brilliant.  And while it is a little young for Maple, she has always been keen on young children and activites well suited for them.  Plus, she has very astutely observed that after Eider has done some yoga he is always so much more chill.  Ahem, that make 2(3!4!) of us.)