Mama swing. Mama swing.

Hey there,

Snapped after a morning on the beach and…you guessed it…the swings.

Snapped after a morning on the beach and…you guessed it…the swings.

Bodhi is nearly two years old. And ever since the day he was born, he’s loved movement. I think for a good six months he was rarely put down (Eugene, would you agree?). Babywearing [we had three different baby carriers], rocking, bouncing, walking, swinging. He loved it all. Still does. Perhaps it was all that prenatal yoga and dancing with him in the womb.

Now, there’s a swing set near our house in Rhode Island that overlooks a park, boat house, and a marina with boats and ducks and geese. We literally walk there almost everyday and Bodhi runs to the swings. He’d be there for hours if he could. And, when he started to talk more, he’d point to the regular swing next to his infant one and say, “Mama swing. Mama swing.”

That started maybe four or five months ago. Him saying, “Mama swing. Mama swing.”

Amongst the chilly mornings, the fog, the days where I was so sad about moving that I could barely get myself out the door, we swang together. On the gorgeous days with the sun burning above and creating a mirror effect of the blue sky on the water, we swang.

On the days when Bodhi started having toddler temper tantrums and I was in the throes of figuring out what the heck to do next with my career and/or choose to stay home, we swang. On days where I felt like I would never stop crying, we swang.

And, you know what? After every single park visit, I’d walk home with just a little more buoyancy. It didn’t always last much longer than a few hours, but it was there. Feeling the air on my face and the lightness of being on that swing set brought out a reminder of the kind of joy that children burst with nearly every day. It brought a reminder that everything changes, especially as we watched the seasons change in that park from fall to winter to spring and now summer.

***

The other day, Eugene, Bodhi, and I spent a morning at the beach. After we came home, we decided to walk past the park to the ice cream shop. Bodhi asked to swing, so we made our stop. He climbs in to the infant seat. “Papa push you,” he says (meaning, Push me). “Mama swing.”

So, I swang. I leaned back and lifted my heart and eyes to the sky. I felt the breeze, felt the spaciousness, the aliveness of being, my hair whipping back and forth. I think I was smiling. I caught Eugene watching my moment, too.

My dearest friends, THIS is yoga in action. Not one yoga pose. Not one breathing technique. And, rather awareness of the way that I felt on that swing set next to my son. Yoga is the constant witness, the awakened awareness to what instills lightness, freedom, inner knowing, peace, and then making the time to recreate that experience again and again and again. That’s where healing can begin. Bodhi gets it. He always has. He’s my teacher in so many ways.

When we’re going through challenging times, yoga helps us open our hearts to self-compassion and to surrender. Yoga encourages us to ask for what we need, and to invite stillness to listen to the answer. I believe that when you ask for peace and healing and self-love, tools will be gently placed along your path, like Bodhi’s encouragement. My question to you is: Are you open to receiving these tools, even in their perceived “simplicity?” Look around you. Listen. The answers and guidance are there, sometimes in the form of a toddler.

I’d love to hear what has brought you closer to joy in some of your darkest times. Please write to me and share. Maybe, I’ll compile enough of them anonymously to share here. And, Happy Birthday to our Bodhi Bear. You’re forever teaching this mama how to love and be in this world.

With love,
Leanne



Embrace the discomfort

Hey there,

After we moved to Rhode Island seven months ago, there were days when I could not stop sobbing (and if you’ve been reading these letters for a bit, you know how hard this move has been for me). Sure, I would find moments of joy staring out into Narragansett Bay and watching Bodhi throw seashells into the water. But, I was surprised to feel supreme sadness about the move. I didn’t feel like I was moving towards something, but rather away from so much that I loved in central Pennsylvania (and, wow, I never thought I would say that!).

I was scared that Bodhi would pick up on my emotions. So, I hid them. I would cry behind closed doors, shielding my tears from him and my husband until I couldn’t hide anymore and then would explode with sobbing all over again. I would try and validate how “great” this place is (the beaches! the food! New England!), which was actually invalidating where I was/am at right now, which is sometimes pretty sad. And, that’s not what I want my son to learn to do.

I want him to feel his emotions wherever he is.
I want him to know that feelings and emotions are neither good nor bad, they just are.
I want him to know that he does not need to guard his feelings to protect those around him.
I want him to get curious with his feelings, to give them space.
I want him to know that even though he feels something, that doesn’t mean he IS that thing.

art by @robertbubel via @the.madrona

art by @robertbubel via @the.madrona

I’ve been getting curious with how I’m feeling as a result of this big move in my life, including the transition of selling/closing my studio to focus on yoga therapy (to support mamas and families like yours!). I’m learning to question when I stopped giving my emotions space for fear that those feelings would “harm” or make others feel uncomfortable. So now I say, feel what you feel. Write it down. Move it out of your body in a yoga practice or long walk. Talk about it with a friend or trusted therapist (talk, yoga, etc.). Meditate to get still and allow those feelings to show up. [Also side note: JUST because you are sad, that does not mean a) you are depressed or b) that you cannot also experience joy. However, if you think you may have depression, please see a trusted care provider].

And, at first that is SCARY. It’s scary to acknowledge where you are, especially if it’s a hard place. For example, if your birth was traumatic, then embrace where you are, what you feel. Try not to think, “but I’m healthy or my baby is healthy.” If you’re not sleeping at night, try not to say “but at least she’s nursing so well.” If you’re having a tough time in the transition to working motherhood and you ache for days with your child, don’t say “but at least I have a job.” It’s okay to sit with your emotions, even better to embrace the discomfort for a bit.

Why? First, experiencing a feeling in the moment is crucial towards actually finding your way back to a more peaceful place. Feel it now, rather than bottle it up and explode later. My very favorite acupuncturists, therapist, and yoga teacher all share this thought.

Second, when you validate your own feelings and emotions, you allow your baby or toddler to do the same. You let them cry when they need to, have tantrums when they need to, be held when they need to. They learn to embrace their emotions rather than label them as “good” or “bad.” And, babies and toddlers do this so naturally - Bodhi would wail for hours in my arms at night before finally sleeping. That was him processing his day the only way he knew how, and the crying wasn’t “bad.” He has tantrums when I don’t give into a “cereal cup,” which is a real treat in our house. He explodes with joy and yelling when he runs in circles outside. That’s fine. Feel it, move it out, embrace it all.

I realize that this letter is super deep, and could write so much more on the topic. In fact, I probably will because this process of leaning into feelings and seeing how they show up as emotions has largely informed my work so far in yoga therapy and sleep consulting. And, at first there is discomfort when something shows up that isn’t so shiny. It’s okay. You’re still okay. You’re still amazing.

I would love to hear your thoughts. First, take a moment to ask if you allow yourself to feel the whole range of emotions. What comes up there? What are you feeling right now? Second, how do you react to your baby or toddler’s stronger emotions? Does an emotion trigger something in you? What do you say? There is no right or wrong or judgement here, just continuing awareness. Promise.

How can you give your feelings and emotions some attention and curiosity? Is that uncomfortable? Write to me! I’d love to hear from you.

With love,
Leanne


P.S. I’ll be taking a pause for the next month to really honor the many recent happenings - leading a teacher training and its graduation, selling/closing the studio, and finally settling in a little more to Rhode Island (I’m not sure I’m embracing it yet, but I’ll give it a go wink wink). I also want to get clearer on how Yoga Dear Mama is shaping, informing, and growing, and I’m really excited to share that with you. There are so many thoughts up in my head begging to be jotted down and considered. Talk to you soon. <3