I had an interesting conversation yesterday that started with certain junk foods that I’ve loved since childhood. These are your typical packaged goods from the grocery store (surely packed with preservatives for long shelf life) either in the snack aisle or frozen section. I eat them on occasion as guilty pleasures, but not on a daily basis.
And the person I was talking to was surprised. “You, as a yoga mom, eat that stuff and will let your kid eat it when he’s older?” The short answer is yes… in moderation.
It got me thinking about what it meant to be a “yoga mom”. I’m a yogi. And I’m a mom. Do these labels alone and combined define all of my expected behaviors and values?
I know as a mother, there are a lot of labels that get flung around. Women on message boards have these badges, like “I went natural” and “cloth diaper mom” and “attached parent”. And it seems if you went down one route of parenting, you’re judged – usually by other moms – and expected to go down all of them.
Yes, I breastfeed. Yes, I skipped the epidural. Yes, I wear my baby. Yes, I introduced a pacifier on day 2. No, I don’t cloth diaper. No, we don’t co-sleep anymore. I can already hear the tsk tsk finger-wagging happening on the other side of my computer screen. I’m not telling other moms that they HAVE to do as I did. Those choices work for us, and I’ll offer my experiences only to help shed light on what those things entail.
What does this have to do with yoga? Well, I found the expectations of being a yogi are just as rigid. Because I looooove yoga and talk/write about it a lot and encourage my friends to try it too, does that mean I have to be a vegan, non-armpit-hair-shaving, ride a bicycle, practice 6 days a week (minus moon and menstrual days) and burn incense type of yogi?
There are plenty of ashtangis and Bikramis and Anusaris who break from the expected behaviors, and that’s okay. Yoga’s not meant to be judge-y.
This is a huge reason why I started this blog. Not every yogi fits into some rigid mold or stereotype, and not every yogi WANTS to fit that mold. Your choices in yoga need to work for you just as my choices in parenting have to work for us. And if my writing this blog shows how the mold can be manipulated and flexible enough to suit whatever you need it to be, then we’ll all be happier yogis for it.
As yogis, parents, professionals and other roles we play in our lives, we really shouldn’t feel the pressure to be all or nothing. We have the choice to take whatever works for us and make sure we feel better about ourselves at the end of the day.