I love yoga. I love the focus. I love the slow challenge. I love the ujjayi breathing. I love that I feel good at it! My $15 Target tape has 6 workouts that are not at all advanced, but lemme tell ya, I GOT those moves. It’s one of my favorite work-outs because I can feel accomplished, stretched and awake, and it can take 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the needs of the day.
I used to love the calm. The quiet. The zen.
Buuuut now I have classmates! 3 children under the age of 5, and only the baby naps. And because he’s the 3rd of a loud bunch and I’m, frankly, just awful with schedules, he only naps when he feels like it AND if they allow him to. So…he’s awake mostly…
So now it goes like this…
Babe in the bouncer. My mat in the middle. Cora and Hank bring their “mats” (beach towels) and place them on top of, across, and sometimes (somehow) even underneath mine. I unscramble the mats, shove the dogs (yoga haters), and toss some veggie straws at the baby who is already whining because he’s being excluded.
Start the tape. Children immediately start shouting at the TV for their favorite work out. We finally pick one and take our first deep breath in Mountain pose…and Walt has had enough. I ask Cora to hand him a graham cracker–she whines because she’s DOING her yoga. I ask Hank to graham him–and suddenly, because Cora can NOT be “out helpered”, they BOTH race under my downward dog, snatch crackers of the counter–knocking the box down to a crumby death–and leap back over my cow pose and back towards the baby who receives 4 handfuls of smushed crackers. He is not pleased with their offering, and my form is less than perfect. I’ve completed exactly zero cycles of ujjayi breathing that I love so much because I am
shouting at instructing the children not to destroy the house while we center ourselves.
The next 14 minutes (of my 15 minute workout) include lots of giggles as Hank begins stalking around me in circles, eventually working up to an all out sprint. I usually kick him in the head at least once as he makes a pass behind me juuuust as I’m extending my back leg. He’s deeply offended every single time, but doesn’t stop. Cora is more than finished after exactly 3.5 minutes, but feels she needs my permission to quit, so she sighs loudly and complains of foot pain, back pain, eyeball pain…anything to get me to say, “Just sit on the couch!”
As the crazies can tell we are nearing the end of the workout, they panic over their now disheveled mats, anxious to be involved again. Nothing like awkwardly wrestling beach towels to the soundtrack of tranquil music. We finish the workout together, hands folded, heads bowed…Namaste.
We are nowhere near any recognizable zen, but they are so proud of their dedication to working out and being healthy…
Most days, that’s all I have the patience for, IF we started the tape at all. Sometimes, we erect our studio only to stretch out, feed the baby, and let him sleep.
Without boring you with the complete history of zen that I recently researched (I can’t stand not to fully understand what I’m doing), I discovered something through our family yoga sessions.
Chaos. They are chaos. Most everything we do is chaotic on some level, because we are a team of tiny creatures just learning how to people.
But zen. I collected a few words about zen that I found common in most sources: observation, alignment, energy, awareness, liberation, balance. One source even stated zen as simply “appreciating life in this moment”. Although a calm, focused stance is encouraged, I didn’t find one single reference to zen itself being quiet or tranquil.
Well good gracious… If ALL of motherhood isn’t practicing zen? But in our yoga sessions especially. Observing those brief moments when they do follow instructions and actually complete a new pose. Aligning our little family as we recognize the importance of self-care. The energy they have in full supply that can exhaust me, or invigorate me as I shift my own perspective. Awareness of how short this time is for us; this precious time I have them all with me, all the time. Liberation as they help me let go of being perfect and finishing every single step that I, or our absent instructor, had planned that day. And balance. Time for ourselves is so important, but this is something that we can share right now. I want them seeing what I love. Everyday I mostly do what my little bosses want, and cram in chores and errands around them. But this is a time they see Mom doing something SHE thinks is fun. Not laundry, or dishwashing, or vacuuming, but something that makes me smile. Something that brings a peace and a TYPE of tranquility to our day.
Someday we’ll be more focused. Someday I’ll be able to do a session with my eyes closed the entire time. But right now I’m embracing the zen within the chaos.