Last week in yoga class, my mat was next to a pregnant woman. She moved like an experienced practitioner, not a newbie, so I was distracted and surprised that the teacher had to come over repeatedly to remind her not to twist in the direction of everyone else but twist the opposite way, so as not to crowd the baby. The woman was obviously pushing herself intensely, and it upset me. I found myself judging. “Is she crazy? Can’t she stop herself? She’s not taking care of that baby…” It was preoccupying me and I was having a very hard time focusing on my own practice.
Yoga teaches you to notice your flow of thoughts and to stop them. To note the thoughts and judgments that pass through the mind and then gently bring yourself back to a centered place. So, I started to observe my thinking rather than being lead by it. I noticed I was worrying about the baby in her belly. I was identified with the baby. Caught up in judging this woman for her inability to override herself and do what was right for her baby. Then I thought about all the times, not in yoga, but in life as a mother, that I “twisted the wrong way”.
- The snarky comment I made the ‘nano’ second after I told myself not to say anything.
- The lecture I gave when I knew I should be listening
- My impatience when I knew that one of my daughters needed calm and comfort more than anything.
The times when I knew what to do but somehow “chose” to twist the wrong way, and not care for one of my children in a way my higher self knew I should. As we moved on through poses on the mat, I started to feel empathy sliding in to replace judgement. Pushed by fear or worry (for her, maybe about her weight, or her changing body) we all do things that hurt our children. I began to feel connected to this pregnant woman, instead of separate from, or better than. I noticed the relief I felt that I when I was pregnant, it was fine to just take it easy and eat and wear big clothes. Now, with so much pressure to be a skinny, sexy, pregnant person, who knows if I would be able to fight the urge to push too hard instead of taking good care of myself, or my growing baby. I felt grateful for the freedom that came with being pregnant in a very different time.
I let go of my focus on her and got back into my own body, enjoying the ability to move-the exertion and the relaxation. When I noticed her again at the end of class, I wanted to say, “Welcome to motherhood, where we often twist the wrong way.”