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Yoga for Moms: Letting Go of Mom Guilt

Internationally recognized yoga teacher and mother of two Janet Stone is offering YJ readers a series of weekly "mom-asanas." This week's practice: letting go of mom guilt.

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Internationally recognized yoga teacher and mother of two Janet Stone, who will lead our upcoming Yoga for Moms online course (enroll now and be the first to know when this mom-inspired course launches), is offering YJ readers a series of weekly “mom-asanas” for serenity, strength, and grounding. This week’s practice: letting go of mom guilt.

Somehow, a heavy weight of guilt seems to show up for most mothers even before the child is born. We analyze how well we’re sleeping, what we put in our bodies, our genetic legacy, age, and so on and so forth. We’re told all of this will have a massive and life-altering effect on this new pristine life. As if we’re already ruining it by being human.

It begins while we’re growing a life, and it only intensifies when that life is born into the world. In fact, when we recently asked YJ readers what their biggest “mom issues” were, guilt was a common response.

See alsoMom-asana: Reserving Energy, or Making a Don’t-Do List

Practice: Make a List

Why do you heap guilt upon yourself? Let’s start there. Make a list of all the things that lead to “mom guilt” for you.

Then, let’s look at the source of this guilt. Is it, perhaps, a misalignment of your actions with your deeper truth or intention? Is it cultural, familial, or handed to you by society? Are you comparing yourself to the mounds of images that we are fed of moms doing it all “perfectly”?

When you unearth the roots of your guilt, you may find a few of things:
1. You may sense that you have compromised your own moral standards or what you feel is most important. In this case, we recognize the need for a change of course and make a small or big change to get back on track. After all, if the winds of society pull us in a dozen different directions, we’re bound to need a course correction sometimes. Compassion for ourselves is necessary.

2. You may realize that it’s a false guilt that you have placed upon yourself for no good reason. In this case, we practice clearing the guilt before it takes hold and wastes our time and attention.

3. You may find that the guilt comes from unrealistic expectations of how you think you should be. In this case, we begin the process of releasing some of these endless expectations.

It is no easy task to soften and shed the guilt loop. It may be part of our familial heritage or our upbringing as women. I have two daughters. It helps me soften when I imagine that what I’m feeling or acting upon is what I’m modeling for them. I do not want to continue the guilt cycle and hand that down, so it becomes worth it for me to start cleaning up this long line of guilt that suffocates my capacity to be fully present with them.

See alsoMom-asana: 3 Practices for Mindful Motherhood

Mom-asana of the Week: Tortoise Pose (Bound Angle Pose variation)

To start, come into a version of Bound Angle Pose with the feet about 12 inches away from your hips. This will allow the forehead to fall toward the arches of the feet. You may choose to pause here and rest the forehead in the arches or even on a block that rests on the feet. If you have the space, lift up your right knee and slide your right arm under your leg, and then repeat on the left side. Allow your body weight to rest toward the earth, softening the jaw, forehead, and eyes while your heart softens in both the front and back. The safety of this pose offers a moment of softness and reflection upon your deeper intentions as a parent.

See alsoMom-asana: Slowing Down for Better Sleep

San Francisco-based yoga teacher Janet Stone started her practice at age 17. A student of Max Strom and meditation teacher Prem Rawat, Stone teaches vinyasa flow at events around the world. Her new kirtan album with DJ Drez, Echoes of Devotion, hit number 1 on iTunes’s World Music chart this year. Stone has two daughters and offers this advice to moms: “Motherhood offers infinite lessons in the realms of surrender, empowerment, grace, mistakes, and patience, and then some more patience—as well as the endless unfurling of transitions and change. Practicing yoga amidst this adventure can support us in myriad ways to find our center.” Learn more about her upcoming course, Yoga for Moms.