My mother has never set foot on a yoga mat ... but she's still taught me an incredible amount about the practice.
Here are five wise things my mom told me when I was growing up, and how they're applicable to my yoga practice today.
1. Can't never did do nothin'. Sure, this was often my mother's response to my useless pleas. For example, "Mom, I can't wear my big sister's hand-me-downs to school! I'll be mortified!!" Nevertheless, her insistence that I give things the old college try, whether it was eating my lima beans or cleaning my room, taught me that I'll accomplish anything if I'm too scared to try. In fact, I probably wouldn't have tried yoga in the first place if I hadn't been raised that way. Of course, you never know if you'll be able to do a posture until you try.
2. Pretty is as pretty does. This always made me roll my eyes when I was a teenager. Whenever I felt down on myself for those geeky bottle cap glasses or not having all the right clothes, she'd reassure me that "pretty is as pretty does." It's not about how you look, but how you live you live your life. Likewise, it doesn't matter what you look like in your poses, but how you feel and the energy you transmit.
3. Practice makes perfect. When I was little, my mom insisted that each and every day I set a timer for 30 minutes and practice my violin. I hated practicing ... but she knew that if I didn't practice, I wouldn't get as much out of the lessons I was taking. Although perfection is never the goal of yoga, I know if I'm not practicing regularly I'm missing out on all it has to offer.
4. We're all the same--we just look different on the outside. Having grown up in a region with very little diversity, I didn't have many experiences with people who were different from me. But my mom taught me early on that all people should be treated with kindness whether or not they look or act like you. It's a lot like the yoga philosophy that we're all the same, and we're all connected.
5. Let them come to you. Being the youngest in my family, whenever there was a younger kid or pet around I would immediately run to them and try to scoop them up like they were my living, breathing plaything. But for some reason, small children and/or animals don't really enjoy being held against their will. Unfortunately, this often led to a great deal of crying, barking, and/or clawing ... and it broke my heart. My mom taught me to back off and let them come to me when they were ready. This advice also worked for boyfriends when I got older, and it works now for those fancy yoga poses I want so badly to experience some day.