I taught my first meditation class when I was 19-years-old. Having recently returned from living abroad in Jerusalem and India, I was on fire with the transformative power of meditation. Soon, I added teaching asana to the mix. These are the physical postures for which yoga is famous. In my twenties, I became certified as a Kripalu Yoga teacher. Once I became a birth doula, I added prenatal yoga to my repertoire.
For twenty years, I’ve held sacred space for people as they dive into their bodies, their joy, their pain, and the healing wonders of cultivating inner peace. Today, I continue to teach. Only now, I have a 19-month-old co-instructor.
I begin a sun salutation as my son pushes his yellow, pick-up truck around my feet.
"Zoom! Zoom!" he shouts.
"Om! Om!" I respond.
I match his tone and playfulness. I look into his eyes and marvel at his wondrous life energy. He pushes the truck to the side and begins to imitate me. He places his head on the carpet and pushes his hips into the air. “You do downward dog pose!” I exclaim. I put my sun salutation plan to the side and move my body so I can see his upside down face. We laugh at each other between our legs.
I want my son to remember his mother as a woman who truly enjoyed being alive in her body. Yoga keeps my light strong and steady. Ancient healing movements remind me to be present to each holy, powerful, challenging, and gorgeous moment of mothering. Of life.
My son and I offer Mommy and Me Yoga classes to our southern Florida community. He’s a wonderful assistant. When he’s not wandering the room or nursing, he demonstrates the poses at hand very well.
“What does the snake say?” I ask him as we rest on our bellies preparing to practice cobra pose.
“Ssssss…” he answers.
Together, we all make this sound on the exhale.
Clearly, Mommy and Me Yoga is not a regular yoga class. Babies are held, carried through the standing sequence, and enjoy their own practice of belly time. Toddlers wander in and out of focusing on the flow. Mothers who nurse take breaks when little ones seek the breast. At times, I lead the flow while holding my nursing toddler. For thirty minutes, we make room for this mothering-yoga mix.
At times, Mommy and Me Yoga involves being present to a good quantity of chaos. How do we as mothers keep our hearts open to our child's explorative energy? How do we keep our attention calm and mindful of breath in the midst of playful or fussy noise?
Then, magic unfolds. The voices of mothers join in song. Children are quiet. They sense the shift in energy. A peaceful and calm stillness descends. Yes, this is the heart of Mommy and Me Yoga. We bond with our children. We "yoke" together our breath, hearts, motherhood, and practice.
On the drive home, my son watches trucks zoom by. Suddenly, he pauses and puts his hands together and “Om”. Yoga with a 19-month-old keeps my heart brilliantly happy.
With gratitude, I bow to the sun.