I am the son of a yogini. Although this fact is not always at the forefront of my thoughts, there are many day-to-day things that remind me of it. I hear the beeping of her yoga timer or the thump of her coming down from a handstand. I go upstairs and see her on a yoga mat in a strange contortion of some sort, with blocks and blankets scattered about.
I find strange men with ponytails in my house, talking with her about this-asana and that-asana. I watch her write about yoga on the computer, typing at a blistering speed. I listen to her talk on the phone to some weird yoga person, about some weird yoga thing of which I am blissfully ignorant. And sometimes, just sometimes, I catch her and my dad talking about yoga business, despite my dad’s initial reluctance to take up yoga.
My mom has been doing yoga as long as I can remember, and therefore her doing yoga has had an effect on my life. I remember that when she worked at a software company called Forté, she did yoga on some days during her lunch hour, and sometimes, if I had a day off from school, I would come to her work and join those classes. And I remember that when she was working on a yoga book with a famous yoga teacher, I was once forced to go to a yoga retreat in North Carolina, where I had to eat vegan food and take yoga classes.
And for the last couple of years, she has been teaching yoga at night, leaving my dad and me alone to fend for ourselves for the evening (we don’t do anything she is against per sé, just things she doesn’t like, such as watch bad thrillers starring the likes of Denzel Washington, a seriously awesome guy). During every period of her life that deals with me, she has involved herself with yoga in one way or another, and each new involvement with yoga has made my life just a tad bit different.
My mother’s comings and goings due to yoga aren’t the only yoga-related things that have affected me. Anything that affects a significant family member, especially one as significant as a mother, alters you as well. Watching her do yoga all these years and seeing the positive effects it has bestowed upon her has shown me the importance of finding a type of exercise that works for you. For example, I hate sports. I’m not very good at them and I don’t really enjoy playing them. But I do like to ride my bike and walk in the city – that’s the kind of exercise that works for me. This way, I am not like some of the other anti-sports kids who just sit at home all day, and I have the added benefit of being able to transport myself to wherever I want to go (I don’t even have to know how to drive!)
And, of course, exercise is important. It helps you to relax or to regain energy. It helps you to escape from the anxiety of everyday life, or just to have a bit of fun (maybe it would be more than a bit of fun if cars didn’t decide they like to almost run me over). All this could theoretically be said about many things, such as biking (my personal exercise of choice) and swimming. But not everyone can bike, and not everyone can swim. Therein lies the beauty of yoga: virtually anyone can do it. I could easily start doing it, if ever I decided that I wanted to (that day, if coming, is a long ways away, so don’t get your hopes up). And the benefits of exercise, through yoga, can therefore be bestowed upon you despite whatever it is you cannot do.
However, I also believe that yoga helps my mom in ways that “normal” exercise could not. A person cannot necessarily become a calmer, more tolerant person by going for runs once in a while. Yet it seems that yoga has done this for my mom, which in turn benefits me as a son. I am not really, well, “bad,” but I’d probably be worse off if my mom was less calm and tolerant a person.
For example: my dad and I were playing catch with a very hard, small lime. During this game of catch, I was standing near a window. I failed to catch the lime, and it went straight through the window, creating a large hole and a lot of broken glass. I would have understood if she came downstairs and started screaming at us for being reckless, but she just looked at us, sighed, and let us deal with the mess. This we did, and all was forgiven. This situation had a multitude of other possible outcomes, most of which would be less pleasant than what happened. And if my mom did not do yoga, she probably would have acted less tolerantly, and who knows what would have happened then?
It’s hard to tell exactly what my life would be like if I wasn’t a yogini’s son, but it would certainly be a good deal less weird, and probably a tad bit less fun – because, hey, weird is fun.
Read also: Raised on Yoga