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Tales of a Bendy Mama: Life On and Off the Mat as a Yoga Teaching Mutha

in Yoga Moms

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by Sarah Wells Kohl

I have been a mother for almost 13 years.  I have been practicing yoga for 18 years and teaching yoga for a little over 5 years.  I think.  I don’t really remember anymore because, honestly, do the math. I have a son who is almost a teenager and, once that happened, I sort of forgot any timeline other than how long it’s been since he rolled his eyes at me, attacked his 11-year-old brother, or how many times I have had to scream at them both to get in the shower and PLEASE USE SOAP!

Motherhood. What can I say? It’s a daily yoga practice in and of itself.

It has been a trying year for us. My husband tragically died in late 2012 and we’re trying to find our way in this life without him. Some days are easier, some days are harder. It’s like a life-long Vira 3 – all wobbly and uncertain and cussing someone out in my head – but we suit up, show up and practice this new life every single day. Yoga on and off the mat, I’m saying.  Some days are light, others are very dark for us all, but we’re doing it.

My kids have each had their own yoga practice since they were 5 years old.  This has proven incredibly helpful to me in my parenting skills because they know some pranayama and can use that to calm themselves down, if I remind them.  Other times, they are tearing through the house like total lunatics and I’m about ready to kick their asanas out of desperation. In those moments, I have them do their age in sun salutations. You should try that!  If they have enough energy to treat the house like it’s a NASCAR track, they have enough energy to do 13 Surya Namaskar A or B.

Usually, by the end of it, their rampage is over and order is restored. Occasionally, however, they pull this trick on me. I have been known to be a little NO WIRE HANGERS when things get out of control with my house, and one or both of the boys will tell me to do some yoga, to have a sit, to breathe.  I admit, when they do this, I kind of want to resist them and say,  ”DO NOT TELL ME WHAT TO DO, CHILD,”  much the same as my students want to say to me when I have them hold Utkatasana for an extended period of time. Just like my students, however, I figure out eventually that what I am being told to do is the right thing.

I hate it when they’re right.

I could make a long list of the other ways in which being a yogini has helped me on my motherhood journey, but I’m sure you’ll see a lot of those lists. Surely they’ll mention how Chaturanga arms allow us to carry in all the groceries in one trip, how the wide stride of Vira 2 has helped us reach the wandering kid in a flash before they ran head-first into traffic, or how Ustrasana helps us open our hearts so that we can bend over backwards to make sure our children get what they need.

I want to tell you something that you might not hear elsewhere.  The number one way that being a yoga practitioner and yoga teacher has helped me to be a mother is that it taught me that I am not perfect and that is okay. It’s more than okay. It’s perfectly imperfect, because that’s what humans are.

Sometimes we fall.  Sometimes we do a face plant.  Sometimes we spend the whole practice curled up in Balasana, and sometimes we just want to die for awhile in Savasana. It’s okay to do all of those things, both on and off the mat.  The practice has also taught me that I am stronger than I ever knew I could possibly be, I’m more flexible than I think and I am able to go the distance and commit to a life on the mat, regardless of what that looks like day to day, as well as a life with my children, no matter what that might bring.

Unless they forget to use soap.  Then all bets are off.

Sarah Wells Kohl, 200CYT, lives out loud in Columbia, MO, with her two free-range sons and three enormous neurotic dogs.   She is a yoga teacher at Yoga Sol and a yoga writer, with pieces published on YogaDork, Elephant Journal, Free Hug Yoga Times, Teachasana, and her personal blog, Sarahsana.wordpress.com.

This post is part of a 4-part Mother’s Day series “You know you’re a yoga mom when…” Read the other posts:

Top 10 Signs You Are a Yogini Mother (Of Furry or Human Elves) by Nancy Alder

Lessons from the First Year of a First-Time Yoga Mom by Erica Rodefer Winters

Toddler Dog by Toni Nagy

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