When I started my postnatal yoga teacher training one of the first lessons that presented itself to me was Ahimsa. At the time I was pregnant with my first baby, scrambling to find my place in the yoga industry before my little bundle arrived. The thought of creating a career where I could bring my baby to work seemed like a no-brainer (how about those high and mighty parenting plans made while pregnant). Alas the first lines of my training manual read,
"Compassion towards ourselves is the foundation for any compassion towards others. If we let ourselves become tired and run-down caring for others we have less to give everyone. We need to look after our own health too by making time for quietness and rest. In practicing compassion we speak kindly to ourselves and notice whether our inner voices are supportive and friendly or judgemental and demanding. We are patient when we falter, for parenting makes amateurs of us all as we confront its never-ending new stages. It helps us cultivate self-awareness, not guilt." - Sarah Napthali, Buddhism for Mothers
Fast forward to one week after giving birth to my son, and I started to grasp the true meaning of what Sara was writing about. I was experiencing the lowest lows and the highest highs (hello plummeting hormones). My whole world felt perfectly complete and at times I also felt I had no place in that world. I began to understand that I understood nothing, and that no amount of reading would provide the perfect recipe on how to raise my child. If I was going to find my footing in this new chapter I would need to learn to listen into my intuition, read my son's cues and for goodness sakes take a breath.
But do you know what's really hard? Hushing those negative thoughts muddling around in your mind so you can actually hear that mother's intuition. Your intuition is that feeling in your gut indicating something is right or wrong. It's that little voice whispering fed is best, that if you take few deep breaths you'll get through this moment and that yes you should take your friend up on her offer to watch the baby while you take a shower. You've got a find a way up from that downward spiral pulling you into that dark place saying you are not enough. Because let me tell you right now: YOU ARE ENOUGH and so much more!
In yoga we are taught five restraints that guide our interactions with our community, one of which is Ahimsa. Ahimsa literally translated is non-harming. In the context of motherhood, I translate Ahimsa as treating ourselves, our babies and those in our community with compassion.
Finding compassion for yourself when breastfeeding isn't working and formula enters your baby's bottle.
Finding compassion for your partner as they try to find a bond with baby.
Finding compassion for your child as they learn that nighttime is for sleeping and daytime is for playing.
Finding compassion for yourself so you can choose to leave the dirty dishes in the sink and enjoy a stretch on your yoga mat.
Finding compassion for yourself and the educators when you decide to bring your baby to daycare so you can return to work and create a more balanced you.
Finding compassion for all mamas as we all navigate through the unknown. The more we treat ourselves and those around us with ahimsa the more we will all find space to experience the joy of motherhood.
So the next time those negative thoughts start peering in, can you join me in taking a few deep breaths? Count your breath as it enters in the body and count your breath as it leaves the body. Remind yourself of all the amazing things you have done to get into this moment. You have brought life into this world (one way or another), you have sustained that beautiful life and you care so immensely about that life that sometimes you get lost in the gravity of it all. Can you feel the breath filling up your entire body on the inhales and can you feel your shoulders and your belly relaxing on the exhales? Remember ahimsa. Remember to breath. Remember to listen. You have got this mama!
The Updog Yoga Mamas intention, is to provide a way for mamas to bring yoga into their daily routine without complication. To empower mamas to acknowledge their energy and their families energy each day, and then select the best practice for that day. Whether it be a 10 minute grounding meditation to balance out the emotional rollercoaster of motherhood, a 30 minute gentle yin to restore the body after a sleepless night or a 45 minute power flow to energise the body and mind - mamas now have the choice to cater their daily practice to suit their needs. Join now >