I started practicing Iyengar yoga a few months before first finding out I was pregnant, only to be promptly banned from it by my OB once my amniotic fluid got too low. Who knew yoga was such a dangerous and renegade activity that it could be banned by a medical professional? And I was just starting to feel like I was getting somewhere (hey, yoga’s not a destination it’s a practice, man, namaste…)
After having two kids less than a year apart, I became obsessed with yoga again, some Hatha but mostly Iyengar, the precise school of alignment using props pioneered by BKS Iyengar who died this week at the quite respectable age of 95. I was going to classes up to 6 times a week, in an effort not only to lose the baby weight of two consecutive pregnancies, but to ensure I didn’t kill my young children. The Zen required for parenting was something I severely lacked and tried to find in class… whilst trying not to compare myself to the impossibly hot Santa Monica girls and their supernatural litheness.
I have gone in and out of yoga since starting seriously about eight years ago. Though it is supposed to be a lighthearted practice, I use the term “seriously” because if I don’t go for a few days things get very, very serious. I get morose, sedentary and inflexible, not only in body, but in mind. I turn into a person I do not believe the Universe wants me to be. I start believing my own brain instead of observing it like a somewhat untrustworthy bimbo I might tune out at a bar.
The moms I know who do yoga all have a certain glow. They glow differently to the Pilates moms, the spinning moms and the plain old obsessed with the gym moms. (Also the sex moms. That’s a whole other glow, and hard to sustain unless you spend your entire waking life away from your children having sex, which is harder to accomplish than you might think.) Yoga connects the physical, spiritual and emotional in ways superior to the mere manufacture of adrenaline. The yoga moms don’t just have good bone structure, long muscles and great tone, they have an inner stillness that is helpful for the outer noise of life, work and parenting. Even the Valley moms who do what I refer to as “granny pants yoga” (which I often do by the way) come out of class looking more attractive than when they came in. And I mention this because we live in Los Angeles and outer attractiveness is a currency at least as valuable as the American dollar.
I have been known to use my ego to motivate me to attend class, and even while I’m there, because I don’t want to be fat but lack the discipline to undertake a more cardio from of exercise. Though I sometimes practice at home, my naturally competitive nature makes me endure poses for longer in a class setting, until I eventually drop into my breath and stop noticing whether the cute mom in the size 2 purple leotard can get her head on her knees right now. I don’t think it’s wrong to use whatever motivation is at hand to undertake such a positive pastime. If I can harness the ego as a chariot to drive me to ultimately beneficial places, then why not? And if Iyengar cured himself after being a frail child wracked with TB, typhoid and malaria, surely I can cure myself of something as trifling as existential angst?