Recently, after a class, I was talking with another yogi who asked me if I had a regular practice. I couldn’t even think before I started laughing. You see, I’m a single-parent. On my less crazy weeks, I take maybe 2 classes on average. Being a dedicated yogi and solo momma, I find myself placing a damper on my own practice because it doesn’t come first in my life.
Meet Zion; race car enthusiast, super hero obsessed, brilliant, dancing yogi 4 year old. I dream of waking up early everyday so that I have enough time to fix breakfast, get myself together, get Zion ready for school, walk to school, and take a class before I go to work. It almost never works out that way. The extra hour of sleep and snuggling prove me a less than disciplined yogi.
Then, the middle of the day hits and I feel with my entire being that I NEED yoga. So I’ll do a little backbend in my office chair, a headstand if the energy is already gone, and breathe deep because I know in just a few short hours I will be back at my sons school to chat with teachers and help my son and his friends make a giant birds nest out of hay. We walk home together, and on a fantastic day we talk about what he did in school; Zion will point out the cars that have “all black” wheels. Usually however, mid-walk there is a melt-down about not wanting to walk, or being angry that he can’t have this or that. Fast forward; dinner, bath, read books, bedtime. Then instead of practicing in the only window of time I have, I’ll stay up and work, get the things done that won’t get done unless I do them at 10pm at night; laundry, dishes, responsibilities that I used to mostly share with my partner.
It’s a beautifully twisted thing, being a single parent. It’s my practice that makes me so deeply grateful for the ability to recognize all the dangerous feelings that come from being a single parent; stress, anger, resentment, rage, sadness, frustration, embarrassment, worthlessness….it sounds overwhelmingly dark just listing them. But there is also tremendous joy, excitement, love, kindness, compassion, pride, gratitude, purpose and wholeness that come from being a parent. It’s my practice that has taught me all of these feelings all come from a place of vulnerability.
I don’t always feel safe to share the story of my single-momhood, which is a bummer because it is my life! With most non-yogi parents there is a great amount of judgment that I typically face; surprise that I am maybe too young to have a 4 year old (I’m 28), pity because I’m doing it all myself (my sons father is mostly uninvolved and lives out of state). I have avoided these situations all too often because I just didn’t want to deal with it.
Then I meet other yogi parents, and I feel more transparent, more like myself. With YOGI parents, it’s like there is this code of understanding, an unspoken invitation to support one another that unfortunately is not widespread in the parenting community as a whole. It’s hard to describe just how invaluable this is, a community of yogi-rents who understand the need to practice and identify with the challenge of finding a balance. It was absolute bliss last month to discover that not only could I go to the MC Yogi workshop that I‘ve had my eye on for months, but that I could share the babysitter of another Yoga Union family because they were going too!
Of course I cannot discount that I have family that helps out as well from time to time, I am most deeply grateful for those moments. And of course, I think of them as yogis as well.
I cherish my son more than words. He is at this point, and perhaps forever, my greatest teacher outside myself. I mean that in some very stunning, humbling, ways. When your child, whilst sobbing, tells you how you made them feel, why they feel that way because of what you did, and what they need to feel better, your heart sinks and then bursts. I am constantly learning and growing because of Zion. He is my foundation, yoga is my catalyst.
It’s my absolute favorite when I get to share yoga with him, if/when he’s into it. He takes an interest in where I’m practicing, what teachers I am practicing with, and how cool inversions look; we are both working on our handstands right now! We talk about Yoga Union, I think he can tell that there is definitely something inherently special about this place- this community. The more I am able to practice here, the more yogi parents I hope to meet. We can all help each other have the space we need, to be the best version of a parents that we can be. Isn’t that the whole point anyway?