first off: a great big thank you to my friend susan for helping to bring clarity and beauty to the blog! it looks awesome.
so, one warm, pleasant evening this past april, i decided to try out the familyoga plan with the girls – just test the waters, get our feet wet. isabel immediately became suspicious when she noticed me moving around furniture and unrolling yoga mats. “ugh (groan) we don’t have to do yoga, do we mom? cuz i’m not doing it, and you can’t make me.”
“aaahhh dear daughter, we are doing the yoga. and you are correct, i cannot make you do anything. do the poses or don’t. i do ask that you are quiet and respectful during our yoga session. that is my expectation,” i said.
i think that sounds reasonable. i certainly want to avoid turning our familyoga sessions into power struggles. i don’t want to impose (dictator style) my worldview or lifestyle choices on to my children in a way that feels disrespectful to their needs and desires. yet, i do want to expose them to the benefits of a consistent practice of mindfulness and movement. and i know my girls, especially my oldest, needs to be pushed, needsto be challenged, in order to experience things outside of her comfort zone.
i dance within the paradox when it comes to formulating and carrying out our familyoga practice. i look to the yoga sutras for wisdom and guidance. patanjali (the author of the yoga sutras) defines yoga as the suspension of the fluctuations of the mind. he goes on to say that the mind waves will cease through the combined application of practice and detachment. and here i am: reflecting on how to embody the discipline, the commitment to the practice, and at the same time, to let go, surrender, detach, loosen my hold on things. how can we, as a family, embark on this yoga adventure through outer structure and discipline….and still to remember to have fun and enjoy the journey?
these are my thoughts as the girls and i begin to gather and try out our first familyoga session (brett was attending a yoga class at the time, and not home).
we begin in a simple cross legged seated position and we follow our breathing. within seconds, i hear sniffles, which soon turn to tears and sobbing. sophia is very sad. she does not like her spot in the room. she wants to be by me. she is angry and resentful that amara is sitting by me and she is not. so, we pause. i rearrange mats, scoot people around to make a space for sophia next to me.
we begin again. we move on to yoga poses. i was sure that would help everyone get past our rocky beginning. then, right before my eyes, each of my girls becomes a caricature of herself. isabel rolls her eyes at everything i say. she mysteriously flops around on the floor every few minutes, all the while, loudly complaining about this dumb practice. sasha appears to have ingested 3 shots of espresso (though i assure you, no such thing actually happened). she bounces on her mat (boing, boing, boing). she makes strange noises. she distracts everyone. and amara, yes ,amara seems to now have her feelings hurt by the fact that i moved sophia closer to me. amara is no longer as close to me as she was before her little sister moved in on her turf. oh the drama! and at this point, sophia seems to have found her groove. she’s paying attention. she’s doing the poses. she’s putting forth her best effort.
i make a tactical decision – just keep at it. i speak to them with kindness and compassion. i am patient. i don’t allow myself to be drawn into their vortex of chaos. i try to reassure amara, when that doesn’t work, i ignore her. we keep going….just a few minutes longer. hang in there girls…..let’s just get through this….please!
phew. we’re done. savasana (final relaxation pose) calms everyone slightly. i hold amara. i wipe the tears from her face. i am drained/tapped out. good thing it’s bedtime.
i carry amara up to bed. the girls follow us. i lay amara in her bed, her head on her pillow. unbeknownst to me (or amara), her sisters have placed a whoopee cushion under her pillow. as soon as her head hits the pillow – a fart noise, a loud one. this breaks the tension in the room so perfectly that we all start to laugh, even amara….until she realizes that we are laughing at her (with her, really, but she doesn’t believe us). so her laughter turns to tears. the rest of us stifle our chuckles. i pick her back up. i hold her. i comfort her. i wipe the tears from her eyes….again. finally, sweet slumber. all is quiet. all is well.
yes friends. we are starting at ground zero. my kids cry. they whine and fuss. they also play jokes on each other, and give us all a good laugh. i love them so!
next up: with dedication, devotion and silliness – our first week of consistent familyoga practice – may 1st through may 8.
thanks for reading. much love to y’all!