Will my mum give up yoga?

My mum is awesome. I reckon she invented the concept of unconditional love. She has always been my number one fan, even when she didn’t quite get what I was up to or why it was important to me. She has been my rock through the years, the person I turned to for advice and support, she was the all-important interpreter between me and my dad of all things ‘girl’, the shoulder to cry on and the first person I called to share good news. In more recent years, through a subtle but definite shift in our maturing relationship, I’m now someone she turns to on a variety of issues big and small, seeking advice and inspiration.  She believes I have wisdom on anything medical (I’ve long since stopped saying “I’m not that kind of a doctor”), that I understand the internet, hairstyling, how to get a sponge cake to turn out light and fluffy, and so on. It’s a bit scary being looked up to so much by someone who was once such an influence in my life.

Kefalonian downdogSo it’s my fault my mum took up yoga. We went on holiday together last year and she loved watching me practice. By the end of the week she was asking me all sorts of questions about yoga and was excited to try a few poses for herself. When she got back to England I helped her find a local teacher who ran an over 50s class and that’s how it began.

She was so filled with excitement about this new thing in her life. She bought loads of beginner picture books, she bought a couple of mats, a strap, new outfits. The full new lifestyle thing. She phoned me up after every class every week, telling me what poses they did, and asking me questions about alignment, about the meaning of ‘om’, classroom etiquette — it was endless!

But the past month or so she’s stopped going to class. She says the teacher picks on her, and she no longer feels comfortable in the group. And I don’t know how to handle it. I don’t know any more what my role is in my mum’s life. I feel weirdly guilty that I opened some yogic Pandora’s box for her.

Should I encourage her to keep it up since she seemed to be enjoying it before and she said she felt great on it? Should I quote back to her what she said about wishing she’d discovered yoga sooner? Or should I just sympathise that the teacher isn’t being nice and let yoga slip out of her life? Being an irredeemably practical girl I’ve advised her to talk to her teacher, but she doesn’t feel able to do that. I suspect this isn’t even the real issue for my mum, and that really it’s more to do with her not wanting to confront all the stuff that yoga sucks up from your innermost places. And instead of confronting that difficult reality she remains frustrated in her expectations of what her practice would offer her. I’ve talked about non-competition and of cultivating observation without judgment, asana as a practice of patience rather than a performance, but she doesn’t hear these messages. Ultimately I think she wants my practice rather than her practice and I can’t give her that.

3 thoughts on “Will my mum give up yoga?

  1. That’s kind of sad! She was so enthusiastic – ! Could you talk to her teacher? Maybe you could figure out a bit more what the source of the problem is. Or maybe you could direct her to some appropriate on-line classes or dvds. Maybe she would like to practise with you. But I’m sure you know in your gut what the best course of action is…

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  2. k8 those are all fantastic ideas, but for various reasons I don’t see any of them working. Well, yes, it would be great to practice together, but she’s a 9 hour round trip away so we don’t get the opportunity very often — thought it’s been great when we have! I did consider contacting her teacher, but I don’t know if that’s far too interfering. Perhaps I will if I can find the right words.

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  3. I think that whatever wisdom we have is much harder to convey to people we love very much. Your mum is very lucky to have a daughter who cares so much about her 🙂 Did she like this teacher initially? I know that as my practice has developed, teachers and styles that I previously loved just don’t resonate with me in the same way anymore.

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