The internet is, quite rightly, full of the joys and challenges of motherhood and yoga. But search for a voice on yoga and non motherhood and little is expressed. Of course this may be because having a tiny, dependent human or two gives life, and yoga, a whole new meaning and focus... and not having them means everything goes on as normal, right?
I meet many women who say ‘all my friends have had kids now’, whereas I have just as many friends without. This is the case for various reasons: health; circumstance; just never feeling the urge; their choice of partner, or no partner; ethics such as not wanting to subject a tiny being to the commercial, educational etc onslaught of conditioning that exists today, and of not overburdening an already overburdened planet. For some, like me, it just didn’t happen, and we weren't attached either way.
Just as mothers come up against (often frustrating) perceptions of how they should be mothering, non mothers meet perceptions of why they’re not (or not yet) mothers. I’ve received, with concern: ‘but there’s still time!’ and ‘oh you must have so much free time!’, with a hint that free here means a wee bit selfish. These are not deliberate judgements, we each see things through our own lens of experience. Some women of course just accept and support each other as they are.
My mid thirties gave me a brilliant opportunity to witness the pulling apart of the mind, body, soul connection that we turn to yoga for. My body was giving me clear signs ‘hey I’m ready, are you listening... ok now, hurry up!’. After many years of my cycle switching itself on and off as relationships began and ended, or when times of solitary sadhana deepened, the approach of a truly respectful partnership shifted things (or maybe the shift called the partnership, who knows).
While my body called, and sometimes cried, my mind churned over the layers of conditioning absorbed unknowingly about when, how, why we should follow the call of nature. I’m thankful to yoga that I can watch and feel all this brings - the sadness, defiance, gratitude and more. And my soul, or whatever you want to call it, knowing we’re all here now with a unique purpose. Just to be clear, I believe bringing up a conscious next generation is a gift and a huge service, and undoubtedly some of us are here for that.
The healing power of yoga is to listen to all the parts of ourselves, for we cannot force union. It’s just as easy to compare, blame or wonder how things could have been different from a position of not having, as from a place of 'having'. In celebrating what we’ve been given and what we’ve chosen we stay present on our own path.
The idea of maiden, mother and crone is revered by the celts and other ancients. The three roles of woman each have their own unique powers and signify the importance of evolution and impermanence. Do we honour this today? Or do we we cling to the maiden and deny the crone, valuing external appearances over inner wisdom? And see the mother in a one dimensional form? In doing so we disconnect the whole and disempower ourselves from knowing and sharing the gifts of each of the stages.
I thank my body for the nudge to look at how and what I can turn my creative energy towards. I thank my mind for sorting through what’s mine, what’s true. I could fill my mother space with work, with seeking, with escaping... Or I could use that nurturing power to support the growth of little ones in my wider life. And to love the grown ups unconditionally. I could turn that shakti of conscious action to birthing something that supports the growth of a more conscious future for us all.
It’s beautiful to see how much light has been shone on yogic teachings in the context of motherhood lately. Yet I felt, as I first began to write, a fear (or lack of right) to speak about the journey of yogic non motherhood. If we do not acknowledge our feelings or speak our truth, our practise cannot respond to our needs. Yoga somehow came to be perceived as a very solitary, rigid system but may originally have been practised by women. So let’s embrace, let’s yolk the diversity of voices and experiences that very fact implies. Jai ma!