Saturday 6 October 2012

Yoga Bunny vs Super Nanny

At around lunchtime today I officially fell back in love with yoga. Of course being taught by Howard Napper who is hunky, good looking and super fit does help. The fact he remembered me from the class I used to attend in Notting Hill was a bonus. In case I sound completely facile, I actually do have a practical reason for remembering why I came to yoga in the first place almost 20 years ago.

Howard Napper, British Wheel of yoga,
At least I'm not drooling :o)
My yoga journey has included the obligatory phase of being obsessed with posture and having a great body - which was what we all did in the noughties. I used to attend an Ashtanga class that was so popular that we'd all arrive early and wait outside for the teacher and fight for a space for our over priced sticky mats in the hideous mirrored room of the gym. My first teacher had been a dancer, my second a super fit ashtanga yogi, then there was Eddie the marine. I don't know if he was actually a marine, but he was the polar opposite of what male yoga teachers usually are ie. long limbed, slim and with that vaguely transatlantic accent they affect to sound more cosmopolitan. Eddie was husky, cockney and also caused queues round the corridors of the community gym that he taught at. He was the teacher who told us it's ok not to bind as some of us have short arms and I have used that excuse ever since.

When I was training to teach I started to attend classes with Howard at the Life Centre in Notting Hill. It was during these classes that my style of teaching began to take shape. It was also when I changed my approach from 'doing' yoga to 'being' yoga. I know that sounds hippy and odd, so I'll keep it simple. Instead of trying to get into Lotus position I began to listen to my body and to enjoy the practice of yoga again. After years of being taught and getting injured here was a teacher who advocated listening to your own body and instead of pushing on through pain and injury backing off and doing less. It was revolutionary !!

So, today I rediscovered this approach and after a challenging week with my son I spent a day finding my foundations, going back to basics and remembering why I do yoga at all. I drove home in the sunshine with a smile and a warm feeling in my heart and head. As I pulled up to the drive my son saw me and screeched "Mummy !" in delight.

Half an hour later there was an upturned bowl of pasta on the floor and a smattering of the accompanying tomato sauce and a few vegetables on the left left leg of my favourite yoga pants. Now I don't really have favourite clothes any more. Since I became a Mum it's whatever is clean or hasn't been spit up on, or had food thrown at it. In his current phase of randomly throwing food and shouting  "NO !" it's becoming the norm to feed him in his vest to save on washing products. After this week I may have to do the same.

My boy is going through that phase of challenging behaviour that all toddlers do. I realise that he is testing the boundaries and that this will only be for a while, but this week I had a very difficult time coping with it. I'm working on being more patient, but I hear myself sometimes sounding like I'm whining at him and frankly I don't blame him for not listening. There's only so much 'don't do that, Mummy doesn't like it' that we can both put up with.

Last weekend I made the mistake of watching Supernanny. Before I had a child I thought it was an interesting show with some good ideas. Now I watch an episode with a Mum whose six year old son hits her and is out of control and I'm terrified that it is a premonition of what my boy will turn into. He doesn't take after his father as Hubbie was, by all accounts, a fabulous little boy and no trouble at all (although Mother-in-law may not be an objective witness). I sometimes think he gets it from me, but I wasn't a challenging child as I was too scared of my Mother to ever tell her I didn't like certain foods so I just ate them. As an adult I am a seething mass of anger about all sorts of things, but I'm pretty sure that isn't genetic.

So this week we've been learning to say sorry (both of us) and to be nice to each other. It's a work in progress and one that is tiring us both out. Even Neo was called in to help the boy learn to be gentle and he did very well not running off as the toddler approached him with a brush to smooth his fur with. As with all things, it's small steps.

Today reminded me that I have to take time to do things just for me and to be 'not Mummy' for a while. It's in that time that small miracles can happen. Like standing outside in the sunshine and not thinking 'ooh I should hang out the washing.' Like making a cup of tea and drinking it while it's still hot.

In all the years I've practised yoga, in all the classes where I've tried I've never come close to achieving the Lotus. I think it was Howard who told me that a lotus can grow in the dirtiest, grubbiest water. It is the beautiful flower that we see on the surface in spite of the grottiness underneath and around it. Today while I was doing less and enjoying some 'me time' I looked down at my feet and saw this.

It's almost a lotus, but not quite. I'm happy with that.

Like I say it's all about small steps.

Then the miracles can happen.

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