Parenting’s keen observational abilities can be directed inward, too.
By Kerry Maiorca
My 5-year-old daughter hadn’t quite been her spunky self all afternoon, so when I heard her stirring in the night I went into her room to give a kiss and cuddle. Her breathing was more labored than usual and the moment my lips reached her forehead, I knew she wouldn’t be going to school the next day.
I felt like a superhero the first time this happened. WOW! Super Mommy can detect a fever without the use of a thermometer!
As parents, we develop keen observational abilities as a result of the intense physicality of consistently caring for another human being. After eight-plus years of daily contact and physical interaction with my kids, my mommy- senses tingle when I notice them breathing differently or moving more slowly than usual.
It’s a cool party trick, no doubt, and also a practical parenting tool. But as my kids have gotten older, I’ve realized there’s another citizen-in-need who could benefit from these superpowers: me.
Being a business owner and mom, it can feel like there’s not enough time in the day. For years I unknowingly ignored my body’s signals in the precious hours after my kids went to bed. With eyelids drooping and a full inbox of pressing emails staring back at me, I’d pop some dark chocolate, hunker down at my desk and work until way past my bedtime.
Eventually I started to wonder how well my 18 years of asana, pranayama and meditation practice were helping me in this regard. If off the mat I’m unable to notice when I need to sleep or eat or rest, what does it matter that I feel blissed out for a few minutes after savasana?
Learning to observe your own state is an important piece of the svādhyāya (self-study) puzzle, but with attention focused on kids or work, it’s easy for it to get lost in the shuffle, leaving the picture incomplete.
After one too many late nights, I realized I needed to find a way to observe my own state as closely as I do my children’s.
Yoga has become my thermometer.
When a teacher offers three variations of a pose, rather than automatically choosing the third option because it’s the most “advanced,” I tune in to figure out what’s best for how I’m feeling today. And while the asanas are important, I’ve begun to prioritize more time for practices that allow for quiet and stillness so I can truly listen, rather than continually doing.
The bad news: not even Super Mommy can kiss herself on the forehead and sense that she’s a feeling a little bit off. The good news: yoga can unlock superpowers of observation, and it’s the next best thing.
Kerry Maiorca is the founder and director of Bloom Yoga Studio and its teacher training programs.