When your life is on the rocks

practice stability versus rigidity

“Remember, the storm is a good opportunity for the pine and the cypress to show their strength and their stability.”

-Ho Chi Minh

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I can’t do yoga. I’m not flexible.” To me, that makes as much sense as saying, “I don’t know how to do math. I can’t go to math class.” Yoga can help with flexibility - that’s the good news. The even better news is that yoga also fosters strength, stability, coordination, focus, and a calm disposition. That means yoga has something for everyone!

The problem is, when you go to a yoga class, even though the teacher leads you through a sequence that provides opportunities to facilitate your flexibility, strength, stability, coordination, focus, and a calm disposition, it might not be in the right proportions for each and every person in the room. Maybe I need more strengthening today, but the person next to me needs to work more on focus or flexibility.

The solution? A dedicated practitioner goes to enough classes or practices consistently enough to learn how to assess the needs of their own body and mind.

But that comes with time. You will most likely stumble through countless classes, or solo sessions at home in your living room before you get used to really sensing your own needs. Sound familiar? It sounds a little bit like motherhood. Stumbling. Sensing the need for something; feeling that you are out of balance. Having a hunch that you could be doing something more efficiently, but wondering what the solution is. Guessing what you might need through trial and error.

Without intending to, many moms become flexible in their mindset, because they know that their little ones might not want to eat what they prepared, or sleep through the night; they might not get in the car seat without a struggle or keep their clothes on just as we’re trying to get out the door by a certain time. As they get older, they might not agree with our perspective or consider our feelings when they sneak out of the house or make other decisions. How do we flow with that while staying grounded? How do we view possible conflict as an invitation to simply be more resilient and creative?

Flexibility of body and mind is essential, but I’ve come to the conclusion that stability and strength is just as important. While our kids grow and change, a.k.a. act as an unstable force in our lives, how do we anchor the boat they are rocking? I’m not suggesting adopting the stability of a rock: why did “You’re my rock” ever become a compliment? Rocks are nice, but I don’t want to be one. I like to hold a rock in my hand when I meditate, or sit on one or use it as support in a posture, but I don’t want to be the rock. I want to be the anchor that lets the boat meander without getting lost at sea; I want to be a tree that has strong roots and resilient branches that bend in the strongest winds.

I tried to embody this as I flowed through some strengthening standing poses. Here’s me on the mat playing with that balance between stability and flowing. Try it. Improvise, play. Don’t worry so much about exact alignment. Think of it as a dance.