YOGA-ARTICLE: Having Many Children is Not a Judgment

Is Savasana possible in a large family?

Will yoga classes really have to be postponed until better times, when the children grow up?

How do we avoid mental obscurity and handle stress?

Where do we look for inspiration and what not to miss forever?

You will find answers to these and many other questions related to the difficult life of mothers in the article, authored by a yogini and mother of three children. Join the search for harmony through kindness and logic!

My first Teacher

Far back in 2013, when I was four months pregnant with my eldest son, I had an irresistible desire to join yoga classes. Without thinking twice, I found the nearest studio and signed up for yoga for pregnant women. The first thing that struck me was that the instructor was accompanied by two small children. Now, it’s completely natural for me, but at that moment I could hardly imagine doing something with children. This is how my son introduced me to yoga. True, they say that children are our Teachers.

IOYU Changed my Life

Years passed, I became a free listener of free online yoga courses at the International Open Yoga University, and when my daughter was one year old, I passed an interview and signed up for teacher training courses (they start in April every year). From the first days I realized that I would study at the university further. It was a magical feeling, as if I had wandered around the world for a long time, and returned home to my people, to my family.

It should be noted that the study process is very serious, the amount of information is impressive. Sometimes it is difficult to have time to prepare for the next class, but at the same time there is a thirst to study more and more thoroughly. The knowledge of yoga has an incredible property: it is like sweet amber honey that beckons with its aroma, and once you try it, it’s impossible to tear yourself away!

From the first days of immersion in training, the student is accompanied by two guardian angels – two principles of Yoga, which help to follow the path of good, to do no harm unless absolutely necessary, and at the same time achieve our goals without wasting time on trifles.

Searching for Harmony in a Pile of Toys

As it might seem, the task was overwhelming. Theory must go without interruption from practice, and it was necessary to organize a time and place for classes. At first I locked myself in my room, trying to hide from everybody, immersed myself in inner sensations, and experienced unrealistic joy from the exercises… those few minutes until my half year old daughter found me! The harmony disappeared, I was upset, but I continued to study, trying not to slip into irritation and anger. This experience taught me not to make plans for practice, not to picture in my head the ideal session with Shavasana for 15 minutes, so as not to be upset by unfulfilled expectations. Excessive perfectionism generally interferes with any practice, limits it to unnecessary boundaries, and in yoga it is very important to learn to trust yourself and the world, to let go of the reins of the mind.

I stopped locking myself in my room, and studied in the living room among toys and endless screams. This practice taught me to use the conditions that I have at the moment and not wait for ideal ones. After all, I created all these conditions myself, and there is absolutely no point in looking for the guilty one and being offended. We need to work, but also don’t forget about rest.

So What to Do?

If we want to change the situation, we need to act!

According to the theory of Yoga, we have three groups of bodies: gross, more subtle and the subtlest. And the circumstances that we have formed for ourselves to date bear their imprints on all three levels. All our bodies are connected to each other. Accordingly, when working with one thing, we influence other structures, as in communicating vessels.

Gross is what we can touch, bend, pinch. Physical yogis work with it (Hatha, Kriya yoga). To understand more subtle structures is not so easy, but we can catch them at the level of our thoughts and sensations, which we learn to work with through the methods of meditation and visualization. But with the subtlest or causal level everything is completely difficult. A certain idea of ​​it is given by a state of causeless joy or sadness.

Thus, by practicing, for example, Hatha yoga, we, through the gross constitution of the body, rebuild our structures at all levels and improve the conditions of our life as a whole. Sometimes it seems that the clouds are thickening over us, every word creates a storm inside, everything and everyone seems to be spoken against. Our consciousness grasps the problem, draws horrific details, the reaction is immediate, and energy is activated in the form of emotions. In this way, a strong channel of associative connection is established, and our precious life force, prana, flows through it, nourishing negative circumstances. And now we are ready to break and destroy, howl and cry. The fly has turned into a huge elephant, which we feed again and again.

Frequently, tension at the body level creates an initially negative attitude inside us. Something hurts somewhere, and this creates an anxious background. In this state, we tend to see any situation in dark colors, and now we get annoyed by the child’s endless questions and soiled clothes, because he or she wants to eat by himself or herself. If at such a moment we become determined to change the situation, apply our will and pull out consciousness or energy, then we will break this connection. This is exactly what happens when we lay out the mat, start moving and redirect our attention and energy to yoga. We physically pulled ourselves out of the inappropriate situation, and then the work went along the chain. The rough grabbed the subtle – and our thoughts were reorganized. From the subtle impulse went further to the causal. And, as if by magic, our mood improved, vigor and joy of life appeared. We calm down and realize: how happy we are! The sun is shining brightly! Everyone around is so wonderful! I immediately want to create and share my love! It seems that nothing has changed, the problem remains the same, but now we look at it completely differently. By switching our attention, we stopped the loss of strength and even gained new ones. The elephant has turned into a fly again, we understand that we can easily cope with this task and are ready to act. Now we rejoice at the baby’s curiosity and are ready to answer all questions, because we have the resources to see the positive sides, and we are ready to help him or her develop. We admire the child’s independence and praise him, even if he was unable to get the spoon to his mouth, because we see the intermediate perfection of the process. It is much easier to react negatively, but to analyze the situation and find alternative good solutions requires strength.

I felt all these moments myself. Yoga became an integral part of my life, and the transformation was not long in coming. Sometimes there were states when I didn’t want anything, but I understood that as soon as I missed a day of practice, it would be followed by another, a third, and it would be very difficult to return to my rhythm. At such moments, I did not set any achievements for myself, literally pulling myself piece by piece onto the mat. The goal was set in stages: crawl to the mat, lay out the mat, lie on the mat, turn on the music for Kriya yoga, move at least something. Kriya yoga is the most wonderful remedy for me! This is a specific sequence of exercises that are performed for a given amount of time, for example, each for 30 seconds, 45 or 60, and so on. And at some point I realized that the body was moving on its own, and now I was already lying in Shavasana, from which I emerged  joyful and full of strength!

The main thing is to exercise, even if just a little, but regularly, and you can turn the situation around and not get bogged down in an exhausting routine.

Learn to Feel Yourself, Allow Yourself

Motherhood is undoubtedly not an easy process! Moms are like superheroes: you need to manage everything, keep track of everyone, feed everyone and not forget about yourself. Each heroine will have her own endless to-do list. And here, in my opinion, as in yoga, matters not what to do, but how! After all, if we treat motherhood as a test of strength and overcome ourselves every time with the words: “I must!”, we can very quickly go off the rails. On the other hand, we can turn this process into yoga and find our harmony of overcoming and allowing. Since “being a mom” is mostly about overcoming, it is very important to find ways to allow and relax.

In addition to joy, the role of a mother also involves a lot of stress, both physical and emotional. Mothers often face stress, depression, and powerlessness. Any stress, whatever its sources, causes the same reaction in our body – under the influence of hormones, glucose is released in order to quickly think and act. And if you and I do not work off these discarded resources, they will accumulate, lead to stagnation, and worsen health.

One of the ways to get out of stress is physical exercise, so we can work off accumulated resources and then have a good rest. Shavasana plays an important part in yoga practice. The load helps us feel our body, that it is there, bending, twisting, straining – after that it will be easier for us to relax. We look at every part of our body and let go of all tension and stress. The nervous system will gradually adjust, or rather, we will teach it to give signals to relax according to our will. That is why you should not neglect Shavasana.

By removing the clamps at a gross level with adequate load, we will get a body that can relax and not distract our attention to itself. And we ourselves will be able to switch to more pleasant aspects inside and outside. In this way we move on to a more subtle sense of ourselves in the Universe and ourselves as the Universe, for we are one. We hone our ability to control our attention and direct it at our own discretion, to use it for self-exploration.

And then it’s in our hands not to drive ourselves into a corner, to tune in to a joyful perception of the Universe. Dirty laundry, of course, won’t wash itself, dinner won’t prepare itself, and the floors won’t be washed. Here you need to realize that the children will grow up, all this will pass. Now it is important to put aside unnecessary perfectionism in favor of rest, learn to delegate and ask for help. The washing machine can be loaded by the husband or older children, one dish can be prepared for lunch, not three, the floor can be washed once a week, not every day. Or even delegate the cleaning to a robot vacuum cleaner, a cleaning company, or household members. You and I absolutely understand that mothers get very tired and are simply not able to perform all household duties alone. But if we, gritting our teeth, squeeze out a smile and pretend that everything is fine, no one will help, everyone will simply admire us. And our eyes twitch, loss of strength and insomnia. Things won’t work that way! We wrote a list of chores and assigned responsibility. The child has fallen asleep, lie down next to him or drink some tea, relax! Look – life is wonderful!

Stop in the whirlwind of duties, observe your feelings, ask yourself: what am I feeling now? Why do I feel this way? What do I want? How to achieve this?

Study yourself, feel yourself, and this is how you will know the Universe! You will find confirmation of the effectiveness of this method in the section “Axiomatics of Yoga”. This approach to understanding the Universe through knowing oneself is reflected in the system of axioms of the microcosm. All detailed information on this topic is on the website of free online yoga courses IOYU.

Great Mission and Practice

Issues of procreation, caring for children and ancestors, relationships between parents and children are discussed in such a section as Ancestral Yoga, or Yoga of the Family. And this yoga is rightfully considered one of the most important, because if children are not born, there will be no people, there will be no one to study yoga and there will be no one to pass it on. And this applies to any field of activity, because our efforts are aimed at improving life, development, optimization. And if there are no people, our works will lose meaning. Therefore, dear parents, you and I are fulfilling the great mission of procreation, continuation of life! Yes, it can be difficult, your brains are racing, your hands are falling off. And you need to learn to feel and work with such conditions. Over time, experience and the ability not to go to extremes will come,  and we will find a thread of joy that will lead to the source of happiness within us.

And here I will give examples from my life. When I stopped overcoming obstacles and allowed myself to practice in any conditions, my attitude towards children climbing on my back, pulling my hair and participating in the process in every possible way changed. I was so happy that they were showing interest in me and yoga! I realized that children are the strongest catalyst for any practice! And no matter how much I get to work out, I will get the most out of this lesson! Behind this realization came a feeling of background joy, I felt pleased with my own attitude towards children! The conditions did not change, but I began to get incredible pleasure from interacting with children, and this miraculously reflected in practice, which can be assessed by the results.

Another example is putting the children to bed. It often happens that, having been exhausted during the day, you want to put everyone to bed quickly and devote time to yourself. It turns out that when my children are in bed, I seem to sing a song next to them, and I myself think about how to quickly return to my business. I am not yet in the future, but I am also absent in the present. Reflections on this topic led to a meditation on my children’s  laying down. Now, I direct all my attention to my children, stroke their backs, feel this touch, and send my love and warmth through my palm. I look at them, and realize how wonderful, beautiful, cheerful, mischievous, and happy they are! And again, I am overwhelmed with the joy of being a mother.

Here again I will focus on the process, it does matter not what we do, but how! Any of our activities, both pleasant and not so pleasant, can be turned into yoga. One has only to shift the focus of attention, which will help to find the questions: why or for whom am I doing this? Think about it, every moment of our work, even the most insignificant, makes someone’s life happier, easier, cleaner. We wash the dishes or mop the floor, wipe the dust, etc., immerse ourselves in the process, concentrate our attention on one action and meditate on it. Often our daily worries are already asceticism. We fight our selfishness and fulfill our responsibilities for the benefit of our households. Perhaps we will be able to go even further, realize that the Highest is manifested through our loved ones, and dedicate our work to Him. By giving our love and attention free of charge, we turn our lives into Yoga and spend more and more time in practice. It is necessary to grasp this fine line of harmony. On the one hand, learn not to push yourself, give yourself the opportunity to rest and recover. On the other hand, when you need to do something, enjoy the process as much as possible.

Be Happy

If we try to look at life from the outside, maybe even from above, we will understand that nothing stands still. When a child comes into this world, mother is the whole Universe for him or her. But children grow very quickly, and every day they need less and less of our attention. Before we know it, they will have their own families and our roles will change. Therefore, it is very important not to miss the moment now, to live every second with our babies, to enjoy every breath of their smell, touch on a gentle cheek, tickling of curls, sweet hugs. Let’s appreciate what we have, seek harmony here and now, and get the maximum possible pleasure from life!

Dear friends, being parents is a great responsibility! Only by learning to be happy we can pass this ability on to our children. All doors are open to happy people, they know that they are free and do not forget about responsibility.

May all living beings be happy!

Author of the article: Elena Lakshmi

In the photo: Elena Lakshmi with children

Editorial: Maria Gayatri, Nasogma, Inna Shakti

Editor-in-Chief: Anastasia Andreichenko

Project Manager: Evgenia Agni

Project curator: Kerigona

Translators: Elena Lakshmi, Cesar Aguilar