Back when I only had one kid, I did something amazing and I did it just for me. I gifted myself 10 months and 200 hours of yoga teacher training. My daughter was only 14 months old when the training began and I was working over 32 hours a week. Fitting in a weekend away from my family once a month for 10 months was a big deal for me and for my family. I could not have done this without my husband’s support. With the other students, we formed a sangha at my favorite local yoga studio and I decided to devote some time to better myself. I wanted to learn about yoga, I wanted to deepen my practice, work my body and learn about myself.

At the time (and now), my practice was pretty nonexistent. But I quickly learned that there’s the physical practice and then also the practice of yoga in all you do in your daily life. I learned about breathing techniques (pranayama), yogic philosophy, asana, nutrition, meditation and more. I think that being more in tune with myself, how things affect me and how I react can only help me as a mother. I remember during my training using my breathing to slow my own heart rate when I felt anxious around my daughter. I would rock her and practice my ujjayi breathing to help her calm herself when she seemed inconsolable. I still do this.

When my children get upset, I ask them first to stop and take a deep breath. Doesn’t this sound nice? Sometimes I’m barking this order and only sometimes does it work, but I figure it’s worth a try. And it usually helps remind me to take one too. If I’m able to get them to sit with me, I put their chest or back against my stomach and chest and ask them to listen, feel my breath and try to match my breathing. I’ll ask them to breath in deep and let it out with a loud sigh. When my older daughter is falling asleep, we sing the Om Shanti song and she gets to choose how many Oms we do. I try to teach them to send peace out into the world however they can. I try desperately, often failing, to model that for them.

Breathe. Take it all in. Trust. Connect with your Heart.

3-20-13 Yoga GirlAt the beginning of the training, the instructor said a lot can happen over those 10 months. People divorce, people get pregnant. I swore I wouldn’t be the one to get pregnant. I had no interest in a second child at that point, having finally made it to a life of sleeping (mostly) through the night and having my body back as my own and as something strong that I was proud of. And sure enough, guess who was pregnant during our final month together. And it was no accident. That journey to myself brought me to realize I wanted another child. I was strong. I could do this. I wanted my daughter to have a sibling. I wanted to complete our family.

It was an intense 10 months filled with physical pain and emotional growth. I am so glad I did this for myself and hope it’s the kind of training I will continue – someday. As moms, we cannot forget who we are, what we want to learn more about and what we can do when we put our hearts and minds into something. I’m proud of myself and what I accomplished.