When I teach Yoga, I often lead with, “Look! We all know we’re supposed to keep our minds and eyes on our own mat. But the truth is, we’re always eyeballing those around us. So let’s take a good look around and give each other the ‘once over’ so we can get our yoga on.”
The moms I know get constant practice at avoiding comparing when it comes to preserving their sanity. Especially when their children are mid-meltdown in public. During those challenging moments, moms don’t need a sixth sense to know that the young couple on a blind date two tables over is silently judging. And, of course, there’s the all-pervading guilt about misbehaving offspring that trails behind like a dirty diaper. Instead of dwelling on the stink eye stares, mom’s…usually…fixate their motherly focus on the needs of their little ones.
Even so, when it’s time to roll out our mats in yoga class, there’s the temptation to spend an inordinate amount of time sneaking glances and comparing ourselves to one another. “Why am I wearing pajama pants instead of those hip yoga tights? Why can’t I be as flexible as the blonde ballerina with her toes touching the ceiling? Her kids are probably perfect too.” (Sigh.) “I really should be home cleaning toilets instead of trying to get my leg in the air.”
Mommas, when those thoughts are running through your heads, it’s time to reel it in. Time to bring the focus back to your breath. Use your breathing to clear your mind. A simple way to do this is to silently count your breath. Starting with the number 4 or 6 — and I mean, “One, Mississippi, two Mississippi,” kind of counting — inhale to the count of 4, exhale to the count of 4. One of my teachers says, “Clearing your mind is like taking out the garbage.” And, ladies, I know you expect your significant other to do that, but trash that thought too.
A yoga class might be the only hour all week that mom doesn’t have to be in charge of anyone else. So for those sixty minutes, let the teacher be the mom, channel your kids (even if it’s a meltdown), lean back, and just be.