Saturday, July 6, 2013

What NOT to Say to a Yogi Momma

If you had told me a year ago that I would become such a dedicated yogi, I would have told you that you were nuts. It seems to have happened so fast that even I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it.

Maybe it's just my personality, but I get the distinct impression that certain people around me are confused about my passion for yoga. That said, because I'm something of a sensitive person, there have been things said to me about my relatively new practice and my decision to take a yoga teacher training course that have left me feeling less than confident about my choices.

Listed below are five of my least favorite things that I have been asked since embarking on this new path of a daily yoga practice. Can you relate?

1. Doesn't it take time away from your family? Yes, I'm a working mom. And I have a somewhat demanding job that requires a lot of hours writing and creating and photographing and editing photos and... You get the idea. And since I can't go to the yoga studio in the early mornings, I go to the evening classes - when my son is home from preschool and my husband is home from work.

Asking someone if yoga takes time away from their family, for some of us, is like saying, "Don't you feel guilty about not spending time cooking, cleaning the house, or otherwise doing something useful for your family?" It's a good way to make someone feel like a bad person.

On the other hand, in my case, if I didn't go to yoga every night to help relieve my anxiety disorder, I'd most likely just be crumpled on the bed in a crying heap or sick as a dog from the medications I was on to relieve the anxiety disorder. So, I really wouldn't be functional, anyway, and on top of that, I'd be causing worry and distress to my family.

So, sure, taking a couple of hours every night to do yoga is time spent away from my family, but on the other hand, it makes the time I *do* spend with my family much better.

2. Do you really have time for that? There's a saying I've seen going around lately: I meditate for twenty minutes every day, unless I'm too busy, and then I meditate for an hour.

Yes, I'm a busy working mom. I carve out time for a lot of things: time for my son, time for my husband, time for my friends. And it's just as important to carve out time for myself, too.

In a world where a lot of people equate busy-ness with success, we are losing sight of things that are really important. Yes, some days it's really, really hard for me to shut down the computer, kiss my son good-bye, and get into the car to drive to the yoga studio. But at the end of class, my mind is clear, my body feels energized or relaxed or a combination of both, and I can go home and feel like my life is a little better under control.

3. Does doing yoga mean that you're a Hindu now? Just the act of doing yoga doesn't make me a Hindu any more than saying the rosary makes me a Catholic. That said, I am drawn to the spiritual side of yoga as much as the physical practice. The idea that I can get in touch with my spiritual self through a moving meditation is part of what makes my time spent practicing yoga very important for me.

Also, doing yoga does not mean that I am going to hell, consorting with the devil, or going to start sacrificing goats in the backyard at each full moon.

4. So, can you bend over backwards to touch your toes? The point of yoga is not just to be able to execute crazy bends and twists with your body. It's about building strength, both physically and mentally.

And no, I can't bend over backwards to touch my toes. As a matter of fact, I still can't do a standing forward bend without having my knees bent. A lot.

5. I'll bet yoga is great for your sex life. If you mean that doing yoga makes me feel more confident and relaxed, yes, those things do contribute to improving my sex life.

If you mean getting myself into crazy sexual positions a la late night pay-per-view, then, no. That's not why you do yoga.

6. If you're just doing yoga to treat anxiety and depression, why can't you just take prescription drugs instead? For some people, that's an option. It's not for me. We tried the prescription drug route, and honestly, I felt worse from the side effects of the drugs than I did from the anxiety symptoms.

On top of that, the way I see it, the prescription drugs weren't actually fixing anything, anyway. They're just a Band-aid for whatever the real problem is. For me, yoga is my way of fixing the real problem - being able to relax and regain control over my mind when the anxiety kicks in.

Update, 7/8/2013 - 7. But yoga isn't "real" exercise. The next time someone tells me this, I'm going to have them work through a few Surya Namuskara B with me and see what happens to their heart rate.

Has a friend or family member ever said something to you about your yoga practice that just makes you cringe? 

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