I Taught My 53 Year Old Mom Yoga. It Changed Our Relationship.

I Taught My 53 Year Old Mom Yoga. It Changed Our Relationship.

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The day before the first yoga class I ever taught, I was sitting in my living room, fidgeting with my bracelet and looking down at the floor. I was waiting for my mom to answer the question I’d just asked.

“Hey, Mom,” I had said, “I’m teaching a yin yoga class tomorrow and you might really enjoy it. Do you want to come?” I tried to sound calm and collected. But on the inside, I braced myself for disappointment.

I’d invited her to work out with me in the past, but it didn’t exactly go well. To be fair, I used to enjoy only intense forms of exercise—running, HIIT, lifting heavy weights. We’d gone to the gym together a couple of times, but I could tell it wasn’t her thing and felt I’d be lucky if she ever agreed to go with me again.

This time was different because, of course, yoga isn’t just a workout. In my personal yoga practice, I’ve grown to reach a state of self-acceptance I didn’t even know was possible. I wanted my mom to experience her own version of that.

After what felt like a full minute of silence, my mom looked at me with a smile. “Okay,” she said, as if it were the easiest “yes” of her life. I was stunned.

The next day, as she said she would, she signed up for my class on the studio’s website.

The First Time My Mom Came to My Class

My mom is not a shy person, even in unfamiliar places. From the minute she entered the studio, I saw her making small talk with some of the other students. I helped her and a few others get their props laid out and instructed everyone to find a comfortable spot on the floor. My mom headed straight for the corner.

Throughout the class, I kept stealing glimpses at her. She sighed with relief in Supported Child’s Pose and smiled as her body softened into Supported Deer. I wanted to make sure she was comfortable and able to fully relax. If she was nervous, I couldn’t tell.

I, on the other hand, had some new-teacher nerves that evening. But having my mom there was like having a personal cheerleader in the room. Even when my words didn’t land exactly as I’d planned, she nodded her head in understanding. Despite my small mistakes that evening, her silent encouragement fueled me with confidence.

I chose the yogic principle satya, or truthfulness, as the theme of class. I said, “Satya is about being honest with others, and learning to be honest with ourselves. When we practice satya, we begin facing our truth and finding out ways we can better live in alignment with that truth.”

My mom stayed after class to keep me company as I cleaned up and put props away. She offered to help fold blankets and stack blocks. I was eager to know what she thought of the class but didn’t want to push. Finally, she started telling me that learning about satya really resonated with her. “It made me think of how much I look for validation from other people,” she said, “And how I’m really my best caretaker.” Her words radiated appreciation for herself. After everything she’d given me throughout my entire life, in that moment it felt like I was able to give a little something back to her.

Yoga Has Become an Integral Part of My Mom’s Life

My mom hasn’t had the easiest life. When I was young, she and my father divorced and my older brother and I were taken away from her. Afterwards, she battled an addiction and has struggled to feel confident in her own skin.

Through these obstacles, she’s always had an incredibly giving spirit. Even when we weren’t living together, she’d call to make sure I had everything I needed. But sometimes, it seemed to me as if caring for others became a shield against caring for herself.

As I got older, that changed. Her dedication to herself started long before her first yoga class. But through yoga, she’s learning to go inward even more, tune into her own needs, and stop worrying about everyone else for a change.

She started taking my yin class every week, and she’s been the first to show up. She’s come with friends, and she’s made new friends. And it’s not just my classes she attends. She regularly explores others at the studio where I teach. My mom is the first one to tell the rest of our family how much yoga has benefitted her mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

I never wavered in my belief that my mom is the strongest person I know. And since she’s started practicing yoga, I think she has now come to recognize herself as the strongest woman she knows.

Yoga Has Helped My Relationship with My Mom

Sharing yoga with my mom has not only helped her uncover other parts of herself, but it’s helped our relationship subtly move through deep layers of feeling and emotion. For all the darkness we’ve faced in the past, I am reminded of the light that we share between us as mother and daughter.

I realized there was a part of me that still held onto resentment toward her for missing so many pivotal moments in my life. But practicing yoga together has helped me find more compassion and forgiveness toward her. It has helped me to see that just like me, she carries her own pain and trauma, and just like me, she deserves to be free of her past. I’m now taking other classes with my mom and spending more time with her in the yoga studio than I do anywhere else. She tells me all the time how this is a proud moment for her as a mother. I keep reminding her it’s a proud moment for me as her daughter.

A big lesson I’ve taken away from this experience is that I can’t coerce anyone into making time for something they don’t value. What I can do is share my personal journey and make it known there is an open invitation for the ones I love to join me in what I’m passionate about.

For her 53rd birthday, I gifted her a yoga bolster. When I handed it to her, I told her I couldn’t wait to hear about the new ways she continues to carve out intentional time for herself. “Thank you,” I said, “for trusting me to be a part of your yoga journey.”

I’ve come to see yoga is not only something I’ve taught my mom, but something we’ve got to be students in together. We are learning, side by side and as equals, how to love ourselves better and show up for each other. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

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