The Elephant on the Yoga Mat

The first truly spring-like day of the season summoned us to the zoo for a leisurely afternoon. The final five minutes were the best: We all piled in to the photo booth and goofed around for what is now my new favorite family photo. I’ll just go ahead and say we’re a talented bunch when it comes to silliness, and that’s one of the things I love most about our family. Our carefree picture captured it perfectly—and provided a sharp contrast to the tone of the previous hour:

Hold mommy’s hand. Stay with your sister. No, it’s not snack time.

Don’t run off. Keep your feet on the ground. If you ask about ice cream again, we’re not getting any.

Don’t stand on the ledge. Don’t hit at the glass. We’ll have a snack later.

Thankfully, we also shared oohs and ahhs and hugs and snuggles throughout the day. And while none of those reprimands at the zoo were particularly troubling on their own, I can’t help but think that, collectively, they added a sourness to an otherwise sweet afternoon.

I can only imagine that those parental snaps carried a bit of a sting for my daughters, and that got me thinking about something I’ve experienced in yoga: We may have a shining moment with a tough pose—say, nailing that arm balance, at last!—but it’s the quality of our practice overall that reveals and reflects our habitual ways of being.

Thinking about my barks and snips to keep the kiddos in line, especially compared to the fun of our silly smiles in our photo booth pic, has me wondering how I can soften my mothering. How do I let go of habitually directing my children in a too-rigid and controlling way? Practicularly, dear lord, when we’re talking about children in a zoo. How’s that for the elephant in the room! (Why yes, I am the super-controlling mother you ran into at the zoo. What? A place for children to frolic? No, no, no! Let’s have some order, especially over here by the lemurs.)

I’m thinking I’ll dedicate my next few yoga practices to cultivating ease: Ease with my children, especially when we’re the zoo—and when life just feels like one.

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