Tapas part 4

flame breathing bitch

“When I say inner bitch, I mean your uncensored internal voice that gains momentum in your premenstruum. If you don’t listen to what that wise bitch is saying, then she’ll start screaming at you….So before you lose it, and there can be power in losing it, but before you do, figure out what she’s asking you to do.”

-Period Power., Maisie Hill

Warning: this post contains profanity, mainly the repeated use of the word ‘bitch.’ If you think you will find that offensive, read no further.

I am a bitch...sometimes. I am especially when I don’t get enough downtime to myself. But, who doesn’t feel and act a little crabby when they don’t get enough me-time?

But...the word bitch is way overused as well as misused. It’s negative mainly because we don’t give ourselves permission to be that so-called bitch occasionally. I don’t mean that you should mistreat people; I just mean that you should set boundaries and speak your truth so that you don’t mistreat yourself. There are euphemisms for such behavior: “She’s assertive,” some might say; or “She speaks her mind.” 

I’d like to make a motion to stop and rephrase every time I want to label someone as a bitch, or reluctantly admit that I’ve behaved in what I might call a bitchy way. I’d say let’s do something radically yogic when we think we’re being bitches or feel someone else is being a bitch. Let’s stop, breathe, relax our bodies, and feel what happens inside, mentally, emotionally, and physically when the b-word is on the tip of our tongues (or more likely, at the center of our consciousness as we struggle to keep it from reaching out tongues at all!).

Let me slightly divert here to make a disclaimer for all you moms. Life is busy and motherhood is tough. Your yoga practice, if you had one before becoming a mom, will never be the same (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing). That’s because your body will be different, and most likely your lifestyle and priorities will change, too. If you didn’t have a yoga practice before becoming a mom, I commend you for jumping into it, and you have the benefit of not missing what you didn’t already have before. But the nice thing to know is that when you have a harder time finding time to practice yoga, that’s the time when it is most vital, and you will appreciate it so much more.

So for a little over a year, I’ve been grappling with how to live up to my slogan, my claim to offer ‘real yoga for real busy moms.’ What types of practices or sequences could I suggest and model? What advice could I give that applied to every mother, no matter what stage of motherhood or life they were in? And so I flew by the seat of my pants, each week and each month as I spontaneously created content for this newsletter. As time went on, I doubted myself here and there, sometimes because I wasn’t following my own advice and other times because I imagined that I couldn’t relate to moms with more than one kid or with older kids. I kept asking myself questions like, “Am I mom enough to understand other moms with more kids?” and “Am I yogi enough to stick to my practice when momlife gets chaotic?” It seemed like I couldn’t be a great mom and a devoted yogi at the same time.

The only thing I could really be was me, whether or not it was the me I expected to be!

Then, this morning in the shower I realized something (it really is the shower where good ideas take form!): I would never find the perfect set of practices to help all moms, or even the majority of moms. But, I could find ways to lead moms to find their own perfect practice. After chatting with countless moms about their yoga and self-care routines, I realized that the best yoga practice is the one you will stick to. And sometimes, that requires being a ‘bitch,’ by creating the boundaries and being assertive about holding that space for yourself. It also includes being compassionate towards yourself when you do sometimes speak in a harsh tone or with frustration. It happens, but it will happen less the more you take care of yourself.

Balance is always key, and everyone’s balance looks different. So let’s chuck the word bitch for now and find that happy medium on the spectrum between Accomodating Angel and Brutal Bitch; somewhere in the middle of that spectrum is a healthy, balanced version of yourself. As in Hill’s quote above, listen to that wise bitch...but to that I would add, after you listen to her, you don’t have to be her out loud.

That’s what yoga is for: to catch your thoughts and emotions before they become reckless action. That’s why I’ve included this as part of my series of posts on tapas: because when I know that when I reach that irritable, stressed point that sometimes makes me act like a bitch, I have to conjure up the discipline to put my feet on my yoga mat before I get to the point of putting my foot in my mouth.