Then I had a kid.
By the time Emma was 2 ½ and enrolled in morning preschool a few mornings a week, I started to get my yoga groove back, attending classes with some regularity. I was so grateful to be back on my mat that I signed up for a teacher training and became a Registered Yoga Teacher.
Then I had ANOTHER kid.
So now I have Phoebe home with me, and because I have yet to find a studio with babysitting, morning yoga classes are out. Emma is in school all day, and because I spend the late afternoon/early evenings managing her nuclear post-school day meltdowns spending quality time with her, evening classes are out. So what does that leave me with?
The dreaded Home Practice.
Many Master Yogis will claim that a home practice is the key to taking your practice to the next level. It is an opportunity to not rely on a teacher’s direction, to tune into your body and allow it to lead you where it wants to go. My problem is getting past my MIND instructing me where IT would like to go, which is pretty much anywhere but my yoga mat.
In yoga-speak, a restless mind is often referred to as the “Monkey Mind.” I prefer “Marley Mind,” in reference to the rambunctious lab in the movie Marley and Me. When left unsupervised, my mind has tendency to wreak havoc like an undisciplined dog: crashing through screen doors and drywall, ripping the stuffing out of couch cushions, eating my underwear before peeing on the carpet…basically just running amok.
So when I roll out my mat during Phoebe’s naptime, my mind will do nothing short of humping my leg to get my attention:
“How long have all those Polly Pockets been under the couch? Is that a dust bunny or a gerbil? God, does the dog need Rogaine? What dog sheds this much? Did I remind Phil to call Stanley Steamer? Sh*t, I should take the chicken out of the freezer. Maybe I should take everything out of the freezer….I mean, when was the last time I cleaned out the freezer?”
If and when I finally pull myself back in from that mental noise, some ACTUAL noise enters the picture, determined to push me over the edge. The phone rings, the UPS truck pulls up, the dog starts barking at the UPS truck, Phoebe lets out a spontaneous shriek over the monitor, or, my personal favorite, some unidentifiable appliance starts beeping. Incessantly.
Inhale, upward facing dog…
Exhale, downward facing dog.
Inhale, fill your lungs…
Exhale, let it go.
WHAT THE F**K IS THAT???????
There’s a saying in yoga that “your mat is your mirror,” meaning, how you practice yoga is a microcosm for how you live your life: How do you handle resistance? Do you run away or push through? Do you push too hard? When you are having a tough practice, are you kind to yourself, or filled with self-judgment? Are you really present to what is happening in your body in THIS pose, or are you already thinking about what is coming next?
I am noticing in my yoga practice (and in my life) that I have a tendency to want reality to be different than it is, which author Byron Katie says is like “trying to teach a cat to bark.” It’s a waste of time. In my un-reality, I have a full 90 minutes to practice yoga uninterrupted. In my un-reality I can do arm balances like the chick on the cover of Yoga Journal. In my un-reality, my house is neat as a pin and sparkling clean. In my un-reality I always remember to make my kids’ dentist appointments, I know how to make a bed with hospital corners, I know what a double boiler is, I meditate every day, remember people’s names, practice good listening skills, have sex every month week and know how to bake a pie.
I want perfection. And perfection ain’t real.
I have two kids who make messes and a dog who sheds…that is real. I have a house where things break and beep and collect dust…that is real. I am here, on my yoga mat, breathing, moving, feeling my feet on the ground…that is real. I am a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend…that is real. I am a woman who has a body that can see, hear, taste, touch and hold -be touched and be held. That is real. All the shoulda, coulda, wouldas is just me making stuff up and then believing my own bullshit.
In meditation, a mantra is a word (peace, compassion, Om) or phrase (I am present, I am peaceful) that is repeated silently to quiet the mental chatter…to calm the frenetic activity of the Marley Mind. My new mantra is “So What?” I am not going to win any Good Housekeeping awards-so what? I may not learn how to do Flying Crow in this lifetime – so what? My house might never be free of dust bunnies, my baking may always suck, my husband might never come home to find me wearing edible underwear unless I’ve taken an Ambien – to which I say, SO FREAKING WHAT?
And you know what? My Marley Mind has yet to answer.