For the Wild Hearts

My daughter turned 2 months yesterday. It was a moment of realisation, just watching her, in my arms, and listening to her sleep.

Would she too, one day, pack her bag and follow her heart to a far away land, somewhere on the other side of the world? If she is anything like me, she really might.

When I was 7 my favourite game was to take the huge World Atlas book (so heavy I could barely lift it back then) we had, ask my sister to open up any page for me and then start searching the small images of airplanes which marked the places of airports. I loved maps, following the rivers with my finger, trying to read all the fascinating names of far away towns and places.

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Late morning before climbing a hill in Leh (Ladakh, India, 2007)

A couple of years from that my sister (who is 11 years older than me btw) packed her bag and set her way to travel in Asia for 6 months. When she returned, she brought all kinds of exotic things she had gathered from Nepal, China and India. Fabrics with elephants on them, wooden pearls and tiny colourful bags with foreign coins inside. They all smelled like jasmine and patchouli incense.

For me she had brought a small necklace which was made of some cheap foreign metal.

This is AUMMM…It means the sound of the Universe,  she said.

Indeed, it was the Indian symbol of OM, tied to a string. At that time I didn’t quite understand what she meant, how could the Universe have a sound and why had’t we learned about it in our school.  It was that day I first realised there is so much out there I should see. I wanted to find this sound, I wanted to find it all.

It was that exact day I decided that when I was old enough, I too would travel to India.

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Almost on top of the hill, Leh (Ladakh, India).

Yes. I was THAT small when I discovered a feeling that there is something bigger out there to discover, an ache in my heart to go explore, to hunt until I find it. And ever since, my wild little heart grew hungrier, seeking ways to dull the ache.

This of course lead me to pack my bag and travel as much I could, to live in other countries, to work there, make friends, fall in love and break my heart, to disappear, travel some more, moving to another country and do it all over again.

For years, since 19 years old, I was wanderlusting, trying my best to find my place, find my people, find myself. Yet no matter how far and to how many destinations I tried, I ended up running in circles and repeating a pattern of getting even more lost that I was to begin with. After every fail and every fall, my heart always seemed to be thirstier, anxiously rushing the blood to every corner of my being, crying for another ticket, another destination, a way to feel at ease.

This lead to a complete burnout. My heart was so tired of being broken that one day I remember looking at myself in the mirror and it was like looking at someone else, someone exhausted and sad. My heart desperately needed a break from all that breaking.

Shortly after that I discovered ashtanga yoga which turned the world upside down in front of me and, no, not just with headstands.

And so I got myself a ticket to the most magical and real journey of my life.

 

Yoga begins with listening. When we listen we create space.” -Richard Freeman

 

All this while, all these years, this is what my heart was trying to tell me. Not to try and tame her, not to dull the ache by reaching out for answers. But to listen. To turn inwards, and listen.

That is exactly what I began learning on the yoga mat. While reaching for my toes, sweating and breathing, day after day, almost automatically I began reaching inwards. First for me to find messy noise and cries only to start understanding and to give time to heal. Then to make friends again, to learn to respect and to love again. All this while I had ignored the real source of answers, the voice within.

Finding the Universe within was enough for the outside world to unfold. Only now I realise how wrong I was, how lost I was in the noise and how finally when I gave myself the time to breathe and listen, everything I love just began happening.

I still travel a lot (by myself and with my beautiful family)  and I do think it is one of the most eye and heart opening way to discover things about yourself and to learn compassion, empathy or strenght. But truly knowing yourself, connecting with your inner voice, is not the result of roaming the world.

Yesterday, rocking my little girl in my arms, listening to the sound of her sleeping, I knew, that now, after all the ups and downs, I did end up finding the sound of the Universe. The sound of my Universe.

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On top with the Himalayas behind me, (Leh, Ladakh, India)

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8 thoughts on “For the Wild Hearts

  1. Beautiful! My daughter was born in February this year. What a magical experience to be a mom! I’d love to read how you are handling being a mom while fitting practice into your schedule. Are you doing full practices everyday? Is it at the same time everyday? Do you have help from your family so that you can make your practice happen? Are you breastfeeding? If so, do you feel a little less energy then what you were used to?

    I’m going through my own battles getting a routine going with my own practice. I don’t have any family here in Alaska, but do have a very supportive husband. But he has his own schedule that makes it difficult to offer me time to break away for a complete practice. I also have been making promises to many people, too many jobs, which is spreading me thin. This wouldn’t happen if I was listening to my voice within.

    My daughter is absolutely miraculous! I enjoy every moment with her. I also feel guilty about not getting on the mat every day or even every other day, but I know I need it back in my life which is beginning to spin off in ten directions because I am lost as you were when you chased different lands to seek your answers. I need to hear my noise. Is your practice back on, if so how did you get there?

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    1. Hi Kristy and thank you for such a nice message! Happy to read about your happiness as a new mom, and yes, I too have days and times not so rosy no matter how much I love this new phase in life. I’ve had so many people ask me about all these things that I think I should write a post about this all to answer thoroughly.

      I do breastfeed and love it very much, don’t really find it making me more tired. I think it’s because I keep myself very hydrated and make sure I eat the right things to get the energy and nutrients needed for both of us. I also have a plant based lifestyle which I think makes a huge difference. When Ava was born and a month afterwards I did have sore neck and shoulders(plus wrists!) due to lack of stretching and not so good feeding postures but they went away when I started my practice again and made sure I was shifting feeding positions. I also added some chest and shoulder openers in the first few weeks of practice.

      I find making time for the daily sadhana quite easy, it’s about timing. I try doing my practice either during Ava’s first or second nap time but as you know, babies are not so regular always! My husband, when he is at home, helps me out if Ava wakes up or wants attention while she is next to me during practice. Some days I can finish the whole set and others there are a few feedings and cuddles etc in between the asanas which breaks the vinyasa but still feels good afterwards 🙂

      Pregnancy changed my practice completely. Now when I roll out my mat, I have no expectations whatsoever so I rarely feel sad or annoyed if I can only manage sun salutations and no more. I feel like the whole point is to just rebuild the dedication of the steady daily practice, the continuity, doing what I can, no matter if I manage many asanas or not. Breathing is so good. Even ten minutes on the mat makes me feel I can grow as a person, grow as amother and give more to my family, my daughter. Even ten minutes gives me a moment with myself, listening to myself, cleansing myself.
      And the days when I manage more, I also feel great to get energised and nurtured, sort of travelling “home” to myself even further. Hmm, does that make sense?

      Would love to hear more about your journey too. As I said, I will write soon about my postpartum practice so hopefully you will read that too. I hope you will keep practicing, whenever you can, trying to make a few minutes each day on the mat already means it is a daily practice.

      Just a few days back I managed my first full primary again after Ava was born. It’s been three months since I rolled my mat after the birth and I had no idea i would rebuild this practice so fast. Then again, i didn’t expect it to. It happened on it’s own 🙂

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      1. Hi Annina!

        I look forward to reading your post partum post. I’m glad I came back to this site because I was not notified that you responded. Thank you for taking the time to read my response and to write back. 🙂

        My little girl is growing faster than I had imagined. What a dream come true to hold her in my arms at every breastfeeding session. I feel so blessed and have been trying to cherish every moment.

        My practice grew pretty quickly after I went back to regularly attending Mysore classes. I was doing complete primary series right around the 3 and a half month mark with my daughter. I have found scheduling a routine practice 1x weekly with my husband’s help babysitting to be the most helpful in regulating my own regular practice. I made it to practice 4x week with an instructor, which felt so beautiful. Then I injured my neck doing Uba Padangusthasana. My neck was as stiff as a tree, so I didn’t practice for a full week after that and then my schedule slowly fell apart and my daily practice gave way. After that I took vacation time to visit my family and my practice went out the window. Now I am back home and am looking forward to establishing my daily practice again. I’m going to try what you are doing and get on my mat during my daughter’s first nap of the day. Thank you for assuring me that even a 10 minute Sun salutation sequence is rewarding. How many full practices are you doing at this point with.your 6 month old? Are you still practicing during your daughter’s first nap of the day?

        Speaking of naps, do you have your daughter on a sleep schedule? If so, what does that look like? My daughter takes very short naps and usually only 2 a day. At night she wakes every 1.5 to 2 hours leaving me a little exhausted. I’m wondering if a sleep schedule might help and how to establish one so that I can have more energy to get on the mat and get rid of the blue shadows under my eyes.

        Thanks for your thoughtful response!

        Kristy

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      2. Hi again! I apologise for answering so late again! so nice to read your message, our little Ava is now 7 months and she sleeps also twice a day(well sometimes she skips a nap!) and still wakes me up for some milk every few hours during the night, especially if she is having one of those growth spurs.
        I practice 5-6 times a week no matter if it is one and half hours or maybe just half an hour. The continuity just makes it so good.
        So here is my postpartum ashtanga blog post, if the link doesn’t open here in this message it will be there in my page as the latest post anyhow: https://anniinavivian.wordpress.com/2016/08/26/postpartum-ashtanga-practice-my-little-7th-series/

        Sending you tons of love from India, hope to hear from your practice and 7th series soon again!

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