July 17, 2014

How My Children Led Me to Practice Real Yoga. ~ Tatiana Montik

yoga teacher training

Before my first child was born I practiced yoga for almost five years.

I did it diligently and sequentially, devotedly twisting myself into pretzels, drawing bridges and striking swallow poses. I continued with yoga during my pregnancy, not missing a day and enjoying the new sensations in my inner world.

However, only having become a mother did I finally realize that I was led along the yoga path by… my children.

I also realized another important thing: I am only at the beginning of the way and it does not mean that I will have enough strength to go all this way to the end.

The matter is that, in my opinion, yoga without the process of self-discovery is just gymnastics, a type of exercise—although it is a very deep one, helpful in learning about your body and improving it, it lacks the most important deep sense.

We can practice yoga daily, spend the whole day doing it, stand upside down day and night, be a vegetarian, abstain from alcohol, do breathing exercises and meditate, but we will not grasp its essence if, at the same time, we do not start to manage our thoughts, calm our emotions, open our hearts, serve other people and discover ourselves.

It is easy to be nice, friendly and kind to other people, but under the condition that they do not storm into our life, demand undivided attention and full devotion, limit our possibilities, wishes and aspirations.

But kids? Oh, those kids. That’s exactly what they demand from us! As annoying as it can be, it often happens exactly when we are absolutely not ready to give them what they want.

That is why the usual Sun Salutation morning exercise turns into Yoga of patience and care.

Is my body sore? Do I want to twist myself into the habitual pretzel or fly away as a swallow? Or a locust, in the worst case? Forget it! As soon as my baby is asleep and I have a free minute, I suddenly realize that I am terribly hungry, so I “waste” my precious time on banal “stomach yoga.”

Thank God children grow up fast and now I have a minute to do yoga together with my one-year-old son. But how do I concentrate on my inner world, when my baby constantly crawls away, tries to play with me or, being older, spouts endless questions at me?

Those are the moments when I best understand the meaning of “let go,” “enjoy the moment,” “don’t be obsessed with your conceptions,” and “be here and now.”

If we have enough love, strength and wisdom, the ability to self-observe and improve oneself comes to us instead of irritation. And after that—the capacity to be patient, understand and accept the others just the way they are.

This sounds a bit grandiloquent, doesn’t it? Be honest now: how often do our kids infuriate or even enrage us just by not listening, not hearing and trying by all means to get what they want? How often are we tempted to answer with rage to rage, with anger to anger, and with a yell to a yell?

A classic example is that of my four-year-old, who really seems to have an iron will, which could lead him not only through walls and closed doors, but also through a mountain. This notorious iron will of his is often directed against mine, which no less strong. What do I do? I have tried to act in different ways, watching his and my own reaction. This empirical experience has made me realize that only love, patience and tenderness can subordinate such stubbornness. It is very hard to remember to be patient if we do not watch our actions and reactions; if we do not learn to control them and fill our hearts with love. Here you go: that’s all yoga!

The majority of moms and many grandmas practice real yoga without realizing it. Yes! It’s Bhakti yoga, the yoga of service and surrender. In my opinion, it is one of the hardest ways, and my next story is about it.

However, I will be honest in saying that while being a mother and remaining a yogini, I have grasped another important lessons for myself: in order for our kids to be happy, we should remain a little bit egoistic. That means not putting in the cooler our own interests and needs. How can a person who does not feel happy and fulfilled give love and happiness? Can we live in harmony with other people if there is no harmony inside of ourselves? Having become a mother I realized that the search for myself is my main aim for now.

At the end, remember what the airplane instructions say: “In case of loss of pressure, please put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting your child.” Do you think it is like this by chance?


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Apprentice Editor: Jamie Khoo / Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: sunchild123/Flickr Creative Commons

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Tatiana Montik