the llama blog
practicing yoga off the mat.
As the days continue to get shorter, and temperatures begin to drop, it is only natural that we, too, shift into a hibernation mode. This focus on drawing inward is something we practice every time we step onto the mat, but in December, we really starting putting this practice into play.
I am a mom of two young children ages three and five. Before my children arrived, I had a strong yoga and meditation practice. If someone did or said something to me, I was able to forgive and let it go with minimal effort.
Once my children arrived, I feel as though everything I learned was put to test, and I failed – over and over again. I get angry, frustrated and annoyed. Their moods affect mine. I forget to breathe and allow my emotions to run rapid.
When you can make space in the body and mind, you can respond differently. But making space takes practice. Lots of practice. First, I had to accept I had and will continue to make mistakes. In my case, the people that push my buttons are ever-changing children who will stretch their independence and beg for attention. Once I realized I was not perfect, I had more compassion to see my children are not perfect and still developing.
Second, I practiced more meditation and journaling. It has never been a consistent practice, and I was happy when I sat to breathe for even a minute. Changes didn’t happen overnight. It took months before I started noticing this little voice that would offer advice in the midst of an argument. I couldn’t always hear the voice, but my awareness was beginning to notice it.
After a year of practice, that voice became louder. She would tell me to breathe or walk away for a moment. She sometimes would simply say, “stop.” And when I honored this voice, the situation always seemed to diffuse. It was like tossing water on a fire, and all I did was pause. I gave myself time to think, process and then respond.
Yoga teacher, Jillian Pransky, offers a wonderful start to listening deeply to yourself in her TedTalk video. She leads the group through a metta meditation or Loving-Kindness meditation where you cultivate compassion and love not only for those around you, but also for yourself.
Begin. Fall. Begin again. Keep practicing, and watch your heart open and grow.