So, my home- based yoga retreat has ended! I didnt get to blog on the last 2 days, due to being , well exhausted, busy and pretty tied up with the baby and Tot! BUT! I was reflecting on the last 3 limbs of the 8 limbs of yoga: Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (contemplation). These all refer to the practices surrounding what i would call meditation/ relaxation. And frankly, i have enough of a challenge trying to find time for asana practice, let alone meditation. BUT! I did manage a pretty deep meditation on Sunday, and it has been really helpful in making the end of my retreat feel like it has actually moved me forward in terms of my practice of yoga as a whole.
For one, i did this meditation while breastfeeding, and then with the baby asleep in my lap in the front seat of the car. So, it is possible! And i will be looking for opportunities to do this again in future, as it was a really great feeling. Tot was off for a walk with her Dad and we were out at the coast, so i didnt have any distractions of must do this and be there. And,,, ta da, writing that has led me to my first conclusion! Yoga retreats where you go and stay somewhere away from home and away from all your usual distractions are a good idea!
Secondly, i noticed that my intuition was heightened during and after this practice. So, Meditation is a great thing for Mums- intuition being i feel our most valuable tool, especially in an age where we can access SO much information on the internet, and there are so many products and so called experts to tell us what to do with our children to make them feed/ sleep/ cry etc more appropriately!
Also interesting was that after him being deeply relaxed, when i started to come out of the deeper meditation baby started to shift about. Just as i have observed many times in my classes, babies are attuned to our emotional and spiritual state; we are interconnected with them beyond our concious awareness, and this is so easy to forget. I really believe that when our baby seems unsettled/ unhappy/ bored/ restless, etc, this very often reflects our own energies. Its not a simple thing- we have to self- reflect to see how we may be subconcsiously transferring our own mood/ worries/ feelings onto our babies , and to consciously relax by slowing our breathing, extending our exhales, loosening our bodies and easing our posture, being more grounded and in the moment… and by now our babies feel more relaxed, or we realise they were just hungry, or had wind, or were tired, etc..
My other relfections on the final 3 limbs seem less relevant at this late hour than a bit of a conclusion.
I have noticed that the reflections i did on the Asana day, have been the least helpful in terms of my positivity and sense that being a yogi / follower of yoga in its true sense, is possible at this time in my life.
A lone morning practice is just not a realistic goal for me at this time. I need the sleep! The baby wakes up if im not next to him! I just about manage to do the basic household jobs! Bloggin thsi week has meant staying up far too late and not doing other things i needed to do! I wrote on Asana day that i had been finding myself saying to people that i needed a fuller practice for myself; i feel that i was actually just repeating something that other yogis had said to me about the postnatal period. In fact, pregnancy and the postnatal period have been for me a time of discovery and growth in yoga! Yes, i do miss having a full uninterrupted practice and i can feel tension building up in my body, especially in my shoulders, chest and hips, that would previously have been addressed by doing some lovely yoga stretches… but the joys of discovering yoga with my little ones has more than outweighed this!
For me, yoga is about all 8 limbs. And it’s something undefineable also. Something magic which lifts my days, which is there for me in the most challenging moments of parenting my 2 little ones with my partner working away. Something which made me want to return to teaching when my little boy was 7 weeks, and which makes me want to share the magic with more and more parents! I am on a path, and i am only just getting going. Reading about the last 3 limbs, and experiencing how hard it is to meditate deeply; remembering how much practice it takes before you can even find a little space within, where thoughts start to recede; has left me in no doubt that i have a long way to go! But i find that to feel positive and enthusiastic about it all i have to focus on what i AM doing, not what im not! So, if i manage to use my breathing to help me out of a panicky feeling, to stop me shouting at my toddler, to tune in to my heart to stop me resenting my baby for waking up; if i manage some yogic complete breaths while the kettle boils, and some baby/ toddler yoga in the afternoons to make the little ones smile; and when i realise that every time i lift or hold them i am using yoga techniques and theory to help me do so with less strain and more grace……i tell myself , THIS IS YOGA! And i love it!
Finally, i have a vision of an away from home yoga retreat for families, which i would like to carry out in the not too distant future. It’s going to be be brilliant, somewhere beautiful and peaceful, a godsend for parents looking for a bit of peace who cant or dont want to leave their little ones. And loads of fun! Watch this space! (: x