The Yoga of Self-Mothering

Today in yoga class the teacher reminded us to be thankful to our bodies for all the poses that we could do as well as all the poses that we couldn’t do. I know I have heard this before from yoga teachers, but this morning I really heard it and let it in.

This morning it was easy to watch others find poses without the effort that I struggled through. Why is it so easy to put myself down for not being “stronger” or “more flexible” or “more-fill-in-the-blank?”

I am reminded of a writing exercise that I had recently reread about what we would write to our 30 year old self and say. And my biggest piece of advice I would give to ‘30 year old Heidi’ is to stop beating yourself up about your body and your weight.

You see, I was overweight in my thirties and forties, and it didn’t feel good. I felt bloated and sluggish, even though I played a mean game of tennis. And I didn’t like the way my body looked. Yes, it bore two children and gave birth naturally two times, and then breastfed those two children for more years than I care to admit, but still I beat up my body mentally.

And now in my fifties (gulp!) I have finally lost the weight and (mostly) love the way my body looks and feels and moves. But this morning I felt weak and inadequate. It was so easy to watch the others who are amazingly strong and fit and balanced and to compare myself to them. This morning I had to remind myself that it is not a competition, that their struggles are different, and that mine aren’t any more or less than theirs.

I had forgotten to be grateful to my body for the poses that come easily to me and instead was focusing on those poses that do not. Because I am very, very, very flexible, the poses that require flexibility come easier to me. My chiropractor lovingly calls me Gumby and threatens to pull me out of yoga because it makes adjusting me a challenge—thank goodness she is up for it.

This morning I forgot that my purpose in getting on the yoga mat 3 or 4 times a week is to build strength, build balance, and to direct the energy to move through my body in a grounded and healthy way—which I always feel afterwards. I needed to remember that I get on the yoga mat because I love myself, not to beat myself up, duh!

I had to pull my mind back from focusing on all that I can’t do (like those darn arm balances) and put my attention on all that it can do (like show up, do my best, and always have a smile on my face). I don’t want to spend another twenty years beating myself up for my strong, soft, curvy, healthy, flexible body. Instead I will be grateful for the poses I can do and the posed that I can’t.

How are you mothering yourself today?

What would you say to your thirty year old self?



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9 thoughts on “The Yoga of Self-Mothering

  1. Kim Acedo

    What great insight! Reminds me of what my yoga teacher says “Yoga is not an achievement. It’s an experience.” I really believe that gratitude for what your body CAN do is a healthy view and keeps you going, while enjoying the process! Thanks for sharing your experience :)

    Reply
    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      It is hard for many of us to remember that yoga is a practice not an achievement, especially in our type-A driven society. When I told someone how much I was loving my yoga, she asked if I was going to work towards being a teacher, as if that is a way to truly achieve something in yoga. I quickly explained to her how that is the furthest thing on my mind. I love being on my mat, and hove no desire to master the poses, only to enjoy them!

      Reply
  2. Lorrie Goldin

    Such wise and lovely words, Heidi. I have been doing yoga for about the past 10 years, and loved immediately that it was one of the few places where I could let go of feeling like I had to be a top performer at everything I do. Now I marvel at positions that I can do that I couldn’t do for the longest time. I feel like I provide good mothering to myself pretty much everyday. And I would tell my 30-year-old self to start yoga for the emotional and physical benefits it brings!

    Reply
    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      We are a lot alike in our approach to our yoga practices. Being on the mat feels like going home. One of my few regrets is that when my daughter asked me to find mother-daughter yoga classes back when she was in elementary/middle school I didn’t. Now granted it was in the midwest at a time when there wasn’t a yoga studio everywhere, so it was hard to find, but I din’t pursue it and we missed out on doing it together. When I finally got back on the yoga mat after being off it for over 20 years a few years ago she no longer wanted to join me. Oh well maybe someday for her….

      Reply
  3. lauren

    Fantastic post Heidi….I can honestly say that as your yoga teacher, your practice is amazing on all levels because of one reason: You ALWAYS bring into the room a dedication and passion for yoga in general and it shines through during class!

    Reply
    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      Thank you. My goal is to be there on the mat, fully present, whether or not I can do the poses. Life is short and fleeting. I want to bring a smile in my heart there where ever I am and whatever I am doing.

      Reply
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