My Yoga is Messy and I am Fine with That

October 17, 2018

I am a householder yogi. Admittedly, yogi is not my favorite descriptor because it conjures conflicting images of a half-naked, bearded, mystic sitting alone on a mountain top dispensing advice and a lululemon wearing, pseudo-spiritual millennial who takes advice from crystals and thinks coconut oil will solve all of her problems. I’m neither of these people and yet, yogi is sort of the best descriptor I have, so for now, I’m stuck with it.

I’m sort of stuck with householder, too.

I live and work from home. I have 2 small kids. One of them is in school and the other is not. Even so, from the moment I wake until the moment I wake up the next day, my life is full of kids. Getting any amount of work done with 2 small kids around is no easy feat, even with the help of my trusty sidekick, Netflix. Forget cleaning. My house looks like it was ransacked by small children, because it was and is. Every single day.

Keeping them off or out of my workspace is especially tough since my workspace is sometimes my yoga mat, which is also often their personal indoor jungle gym.

18 months ago, when I first started recording yoga classes online, I was meticulous about keeping them out of my recordings. I had a babysitter that I couldn’t afford, who watched Archer while I was teaching. I would put the TV on for Milly when I had to record when she was around and I was solo. I would beg and plead with my kids to stay out of the yoga room until I was all done filming. I’d have to start and stop multiple times just to get a good take for my YouTube channel videos if one of my kids opened the door or starting screaming “Mommy, I have to pee” through the keyhole.

I’d get all bent out of shape about it, too. (yoga humor. Sorry, not sorry)

I felt like people watching my videos didn’t want the practice to be interrupted by my kids. They didn’t want to see them walk in front of the camera. They didn’t want to hear them ask me questions in the middle of a pose.

They wanted the yoga straight up, no chaser.

I didn’t just have a hunch about this. I was told as much by a few students who said they used yoga to have some space from their kids. They didn’t really want the sights and sounds inside their personal virtual escape.

And I get that. I really do.

I rarely get any reprieve from my kids conquering my yoga space so when I do, I feel particularly wonderful and luxurious about my yoga practice.

I also worried that if my kids were running in and out of my online classes, people would think I was less professional and wouldn’t want to do the online classes as a result.

Interesting that the idea of kids interrupting makes someone appear less professional. Thanks for that one, patriarchy.

Here’s my truth:

When I watch a woman give a live interview or teach a class and she is interrupted by her child, I feel more connected to her. I value her time and expertise more. I appreciate her skill at being able to manage her work and her mothering simultaneously, even if it isn’t as smooth as it appears in that moment.

I came to this realization sometime this past summer, when I had limited babysitting resources and even more limited finances and I had to film a lot while my kids were around because it was summer and they were always around.

No matter how much I pleaded or promised rewards, they’d still come in while I was filming. Sometimes it was a practice I was recording for YouTube; sometimes it was a live class I was offering in my Conscious Healthy Collective. Sometimes they’d stick around and do yoga; sometimes they’d ask me a question and then leave.

I realized that my kids are a part of my life.

I am no less professional because of them.

My yoga practice is a little messier and shorter than it was before I had kids, but more often than not, it’s also more fun.

My teaching is influenced by my life as a mom and a householder. It’s a little messier and shorter than it used to be (because most people don’t want to do 60-75 minute practices online at home) but it’s also a lot smarter and more creative.

Last week I led a free online yoga class. My intention was to share my teaching style with people who’d never taken my class before or to remind people what my classes are like if it’s been awhile since they’ve taken class with me.

My intention was also to then get some of those people to want to join my online yoga and self-care membership community, the Conscious Healthy Collective (full transparency here because this is not only what I love but what I do for a living and we can’t pay our mortgage with gratitude).

I thought the class went really well.

Apart from the neighborhood dogs that started to bark right when I started.

Apart from my son interrupting me somewhere in the middle of the class and again at the end.

Apart from the fact that an airplane flew overhead at least once during the 30-minute long class.

Apart from the fact that the class I chose to teach was probably more ideal for watching and practicing, not listening in via phone (which some people were doing).

It was messy and imperfect.

It was also 100% authentic.

Life doesn’t exist in a perfectly lit, sound-proof room and neither does yoga.

I’m sort of done with apologizing for things when it comes to the intersection of my mom life, my yoga life, and my professional life.

Yes, I need better sound quality in my videos (good quality microphones for movement pros are very expensive) but beyond that, I don’t think there’s much else I would change.

I love that my kids want to be with me when I do yoga.

I love sharing this practice with them.

I love showing them that I can be there for them and be there for my students.

I love showing them how much I love what I do.

If that means they sometimes end up on camera during my classes, I’m ok with that.

My yoga is not perfect. It’s a little messy and I’m happy with that.

Perfect has never gotten me anything good anyway. Just lots of self-loathing and rage.

If you’re into the idea of a sort of messy, very real yoga practice from a non-perfect yoga teacher, I’m your woman.

We have these ridiculous ideas that yoga is supposed to be pristine, practiced in white walled rooms with spotless floors, exquisite natural lighting, and perfect sound.

In reality, most of us householder yogis experience the opposite.

We practice alongside dirty laundry, the crumbs from last night’s dinner sprinkled on our mats, and with the sound of PJ Masks playing in the background.

We practice in dimly lit rooms wearing our pj’s.

Sometimes we get 15 minutes in and have to stop to change a diaper or help someone get dressed or clean up a spill on the floor from a “helpful” child.

The yoga that I love doesn’t exist on isolated mountain tops or in lululemon or in spotless, well-lit, empty rooms. The yoga I love and the yoga I love to share exists in smaller, well-lived in spaces.

In my online classes, you are welcome to show up exactly as you are. With or without kids; in your pJ’s or in yoga pants you haven’t gotten around to cleaning yet; on your yoga mat or in your kids playroom or on the kitchen floor.

If this sounds like your kind of yoga, join me. I’d love to share my real life, householder yoga with you.

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