The first few years of parenthood, “falling back” felt like a cruel joke. I commiserated, red-eyed, with comrades whose children also rose perkily with the dawn while the rest of the world luxuriated in an extra hour of sleep. When other parents would tell me their little angels slept until 8:30 a.m. the morning our clocks fell back, I seethed, invisible smoke steaming out of my ears.
But this year, something has changed. Not in his waking time, but in me and my attempt to find a way to live with it.
I’ve been a yoga teacher for a decade and practiced Buddhist meditation and vinyasa yoga for 20 years. Sure, after all those sweaty hours in the studio, my body is strong and flexible, and that’s nice. But in potentially frustrating day-to-day moments like this — exhausted and resentful as I roll over to see the clock flashing 4:45 a.m. — yoga and meditation have taught me several immeasurable lessons.
In my early 20s, I dated a man who, when asked whether he believed in God, said: ‘I believe in me.’ He was a good, kind, smart man; the type who grew herbs on his windowsill and played trombone in a jazz band and coached a kids’ soccer team. Total marriage material. But I knew in that instant it would never work between us.
I am a person of deep faith: a preacher’s kid, a yoga teacher, and a meditation geek with a master’s degree in systematic theology. I’ve spent my whole life belly-deep in the spiritual world. So raising a tiny person of faith shouldn’t be so hard.
But, dammit; it is.
I don’t know what to do about church for my kid. Studies show I’m not alone. Youth are fleeing the organized church in droves. Millennials are increasingly raising their children as “nones.” Self-identified atheism has doubled among Generation Z. And mainline Protestant denominations are famously flailing.
Spiritual trauma and toxic theology run rampant. Between the United Methodist Church’s recent upholding of the ban on same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ ministers, the Catholic Church’s ongoing revelations of pedophilia horror, and the Southern Baptists’ February unveiling of vast child abuse, why would any reasonably progressive parent choose to send their child (alone!) into a church basement?
There’s no question that I want to raise my son with a deep spiritual practice and a reverence for mystery. But where to find a religious upbringing he doesn’t have to unlearn?
Delighted to be joining the faculty of the 2019/20 B Yoga Basel teacher training. Nerding out on yoga philosophy, history, culture, and ethics in the company of fellow seekers = one of my favorite things to do.
The 250-hr training launches in late August and runs through next April. Details here. 🌸
Surprise! We’re offering a special May deal for my Greek Island retreat, perfectly timed through Mother’s Day (ahem ahem).
$250 off all registrations through May 15th, or 50% off the single supplement for a private room.
Join us: October 12-19th, 2019 Amorgos, Greece Daily vinyasa + meditation w/ me 5-star Aegialis hotel & spa Athens visit Yoga philosophy book club Herbal distillery tour Monastery hikes Organic food Saltwater pools Dreamy Greek villages Those damn gorgeous beaches And more.
You and your mama (or your baby, or your baby-mama, or your yoga-hating husband who just digs travel and feta cheese) are so welcome to join us. It’s shaping up to be such a rad group. Like family
Just sent out my first newsletter since we moved to Switzerland, including details on my new Basel home studio and our upcoming Greek Island retreat. You can read it here, or subscribe by clicking in the upper-left corner. 🌸
Change is the one constant of life as a yoga teacher. Very few of us teach in the same place throughout the duration of our careers. In any given year we may teach for local schools, nonprofits, corporate offices, gyms, and in several different studios.
One of the best things we can do for ourselves as teachers is to maintain graceful relationships with students as well as with the people who employ us. Operating with respect, truthfulness, and candor sets us up for success and allows us to honor the yogic ethics that are the foundation of our work.
Think about it this way:
In every yoga pose, there’s a creation, preservation, and a dissolution. Take bow pose (dhanurasana), for instance: You set it up, mindfully preparing the breath and the body; you hold the full expression for five breaths; and then, finally, you dissolve it, resting on your belly when the pose is complete. Ideally, every step of the process will be just as mindful and intentional as “being in the pose” itself.
A teaching relationship with a yoga studio is no different. You want your entrance and exit to be just as conscious and elegant as the classes you offer while you’re there.
Most of us don’t come to the mat because life is peachy. We’re drawn to yoga because of an ache in our hearts or our bones, or a mind that won’t quite stop racing. We come and just practice staying; staying and not reacting, staying and realizing the chaos is not us, staying and realizing we are clear blue sky.
(As Pema Chodron says: Everything else is just the weather.)
It was suffering that brought me to the mat and kept me there, too.
It’s 2002. I am 23, standing at a payphone on the beach in Malaga, Spain when I get the call that will change my life forever.
February 22: George Washington’s birthday. Drew Barrymore’s birthday. And mine.
My phone pinged with Facebook notifications as I stood over the hospital trash bin and retched. Three times I emptied my stomach of the apples and peanut butter my husband had lovingly sliced a few hours before. Once into the trash can. Again. And then again into the birthing tub laced with lavender essential oils.
Fiercely feminist, I’d always been ambivalent about having children. I’d watched my peers spawn with nary a twinge of jealousy, content with my books and my yoga. I told myself, “If it happens: great. If it doesn’t: great.”
On our first date, I teased my future husband, Robb, that I’d likely go the way of Sylvia Plath, making the kids sandwiches and sticking my head in the oven.
Six months later, drinking champagne on a pier overlooking Tomales Bay, we were engaged.
A year later, I was pregnant. Robb promised parenthood would make me a better yoga teacher. I rolled my eyes and took a swig of my chai, wishing it were vodka. He was right. Motherhood has made me a much better yoga teacher.
Every December folks roll into my yoga class ready to sweat out all the canapes and martinis they half-drunkenly inhaled the night before. Sometimes they’re wearing six layers of clothing in a 99-degree room so as to “detox” all the pinot and the feta and the gingerbread, armed with liters of coconut water and a couple of big towels for mopping up the evidence.
This always makes me a little bit sad.
I mean, I totally get it. I remember countless hazy, hungover twentysomething mornings spent rolling into Bikram classes feeling like I needed to do the same thing. Too many yoga practices that felt like atonement for the night (or the week) before.
A decade later, as a heated vinyasa teacher myself, I cringe to think that my class could ever be complicit in my students’ self-abasement.
So here I am to remind you: hot yoga is not a punishment.