Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why yoga is so lovely for mothers

I have just come back from my yoga class and am aware that I have said for months now that I would talk about why Kundalini Yoga has helped me so much as a mother. So much so that I have begun to train as a teacher. (Hence my very infrequent, inarticulate blogging. I will keep on blogging, but it will be less regular and less frequent). Here is why I think all mothers should give it a go (Yoga, not blogging. Or both actually.)

I have practiced yoga for about eight years now, in many of its different forms. Determined not to give it up after becoming a mother, I started going to a two hour evening class once a week when Jemima was five weeks old. It was an incredible way for me to unwind and really focus on myself. I use to (still do!) love zoning out with magazines or TV when I want to relax, but I am aware that as I do this I am filling up my mind even more and still giving my attention to something else – usually something meaningless and instantly forgettable - other than myself. Yoga is purely for me. Or at least in begins that way. It gives me time to reflect on how I am feeling and on what is going on in my body and mind. It gives me a chance to empty my mind, and just be me – not a mother, not a wife, not a friend/colleague… just me. I used to float back from a yoga class feeling re-charged and ready to give myself up again, as I opened the front door, knowing my life was about to be overtaken by the needs of my baby. I’m sure those classes really helped me to calm down and live in the moment. Instead of setting myself or my baby the usual goals I was able to take each day at a time and really enjoy just being at home with Jemima. That was then.

When I came back to Cambodia with Bella in September I decided to wait until she was three months old. My body just did not feel ready. When it did I started Anya’s Kundalini yoga for the first time. I loved her classes so much – different to any other yoga I had practiced before. They were dynamic, accompanied by beautiful music and involved a lovely balance of physical exercise and spiritual awakening. But they were at 9 – 1030am and I had got into a pattern of writing at that time each day while Bella slept. I was certain that I would not have time for writing and yoga. I was already totally exhausted because (as you all know) Bella is a frequent night waker. So I gave up the yoga, telling myself there was no way I could find the energy to do physical yoga classes in the morning, or fit my writing into fewer mornings. At about the same time James was complaining that he hardly saw me. Every evening I was writing, emailing home, trying to advertise my blog or catching up with all the things I had not done in the day. By each weekend I was totally shattered and ended up being bad tempered, feeling low and homesick, sleeping in and generally no fun for the children or James, who was basically having to entertain them all weekend so I could sleep. A friend pointed out gently that perhaps I needed to find a balance and find constructive time for me. So I went back to yoga, thinking that I would be worth it, even if I was much busier. Guess what? I wasn’t.

In two weeks I was writing only three mornings a week, no evenings and still producing the same amount of material – probably better as well. I was more positive and I had tons of energy. Really, I know I sound like I am advertising a health tonic or a diet product but Kundalini Yoga really has been the most effective way of keeping energised, calm, focused, positive, and fit. I have also found it incredibly healing emotionally. Sorry, does this sound boastful? Please do not take it that way. This is not about being any better than anyone else, but better than myself. Not even 'better' exactly - just more effective and happier ... What I mean is, if anyone had told me four years ago that I would be living on only 5-6 very broken hours sleep a night, with two children, breastfeeding, washing nappies, writing, running groups and helping others breastfeeding etc, cooking, playing, etc etc etc… well I would have hidden under my beloved duvet. I have always loved bed and needed lots of sleep. These last few weeks I have been woken every hour and fed on many of them. I should be screaming at everyone, tearing my hair out, ordering take away and never getting out of bed. This is the me I would have imagined. This is the me I have been in the past. I have also always been an emotional person and slightly concerned that my family’s mood will be too dominated by my own. That is definitely what was happening a few months back. So what I am trying to say is not that yoga is making me perfect, but simply a lot happier and able to cope, and a bit nicer to be around. Even James, who raises his eyebrows skeptically at the mere mention of a chakra, admits that my regular Kundalini yoga practice has made his life a lot easier! And we are both very lucky that I can do it during the day because of the wonderful Sophy who looks after Bella while I am gone. If we were in England I’d have to do it in the evenings, or beg babysitting favours of friends. (Hence my dream to open a yoga centre with a crèche… one day!)

Oh goodness I have gone on and on and still not said anything about why yoga! But it is time to get Jemima and if I do not publish this now I never will. So this can be part one. I'll carry on soon. Hmmm… I said that last week and know I still owe you tips on traveling with kids. They are coming. I promise. In the meantime why not go and find out for yourself?


AzAzura said...

I just found your blog and Its nice , you are sucha doting mother with agreat sense of humour.i ve been to cambodia and from your posts looks like you have no major problems adapting your life over there.Kudos
Your childrens are gorgeous

Georgie said...

Thank you! What a lovely message! Where are you from?

Caroline said...

Looking forward to reading the next installment! It's something I do off and on and never seem to stick to (DVDs at home not exactly motivating but finding a class at a suitable time is not so easy!), and I do feel better when I do some regularly.

Just wondering if you've read Buddhism For Mothers by Sarah Napthali? It's just arrived here and so far I'm really enjoying her take on things. I thought of you when I ordered it! :)

Georgie said...

I haven't but it sounds very interesting. I'll put it on my birthday list. KY teachings come from Sikh religion actually, but is not connected - and my teacher is a Buddhist. So is my sister actually - an ordained member of the Western Buddhist Order. Check out her website in my list - named (by me before you think she is a right show off) Brilliant and beautiful travel lectures by Munisha. gxx

Jeanette said...

I haven't found a yoga class I can go to regularly since I had my third child,and do miss it. Oh for a day time class with a creche!

Anonymous said...

I do KY yoga here in Sri Lanka and have definitely found it helps with mothering. For me too it was the first time ever I had left my daughter - other than with my husband - and she was 8 months old. So it has also come to be my 'me' time in the week too! Also, funnily enough, our classes are at 10.00 on a Monday morning!!!

A new parent and child class is starting this afternoon and I am off there with E - who at 2.5 will be the youngest I am sure - but she already loves yoga.

Btw, can recommend a great book for getting kids into yoga - Babar's Yoga for Elephants by Laurent de Brunhoff - it is beautifully written and illustrated and comes with a pull out, colourful poster with Babar demonstrating postures!

Kat said...


I have no idea where to start looking for a class in Winch. I had a fabulous teacher years ago who left the area :0(

Will be great when you come back. Would love to help you out with setting up the creche - Ofsted can be tricky...

Kat x

Georgie said...

Was that Sue Whittal? Maybe we have met! I did her classes when I was in Winchester. Would love your partnership but unfortunately don't think will be Winchester where we settle :-( hmmm hadn't thought about ofsted! ho hum gx