Thank Heaven for Little Girls

Being a parent has made new mother Erica Rodefer Winters realize the importance of practicing what she preaches on the yoga mat and in life.

Being a new mother to a baby girl has certainly made me think about what it means to grow up as a girl in this country. I often look down at the baby sleeping in my arms, dressed in pink from head to toe (because being a girl is awesome), and I think about all the challenges she will face in her life. I want her to know that those mean girls (and mean boys) she'll meet in school someday will be mean because there's something lacking in them, not her (and she should invite them to her birthday party anyway). I want her to know that the models in fashion magazines are airbrushed, and that Barbie might look cute but if she were real those boobs would weigh her down and snap those stick-thin thighs in half. Other people will judge her based on her appearance and a thousand other factors, but she alone will have the power to decide who she wants to be. It won't always be easy or fair, but if she works hard, believes in herself, and keeps trying she has the power to do whatever her heart desires--and she doesn't need anyone's approval to do it. Most of all, I want her to know she can choose to be happy. These are all lessons that my time on the yoga mat has helped me to learn.

Image placeholder title

I've logged enough time in yoga teacher trainings to know that no matter how many times I tell her everything I want her to know, it won't mean much unless I embody it myself. You can describe Downward Facing Dog to someone who's never seen it. They might be able to take the shape, but it will be so much more powerful if someone models it for them. Even then, they won't fully understand it until they experience it for themselves—but as yoga teachers, and as parents, you can only do so much.

If I want my daughter to be strong, confident, resilient, capable, kind, generous, loving, compassionate, healthy, and happy … well, I better check more than my lip gloss when I look at myself in the mirror. This realization has motivated me to stop daydreaming about what I want to do in life some day and start acting actually going for it now. I'm looking for ways to give back. I'm doing things that scare me—like finally writing that book I've been thinking about for years so that even if it's a big failure I will be able to look my little girl in the eyes some day and say, "That one didn't work out, but it didn't stop me from trying again." I've also stopped cursing ... for the most part. ( I'm a mother, not a saint!) Oh, and I'm practicing lots of yoga and eating my greens, too.

I'm thankful that my yoga practice has given me the tools I need to reflect, explore, and grow. And I'm thankful to my new daughter for making it all that much more important for me to practice what I preach.