After a rare evening excursion yesterday evening, thanks to my Mother/babysitter-extraordinaire, Suzanne and I got home just before midnight. That’s like staying out until four in the morning for ashtanga yoga teachers! So we fell into bed in the expectation (well hope at least) of an uninterrupted eight hours of blissful shut-eye.

We must have momentarily forgotten that we share our two bedroom apartment with two anti-sleep activists under the guise of our two daughters, Molly (age 4) and Anna (age 2).

I’m not sure why, but every time we are woken up by one of our children (which has been every night except maybe five or six for the last four and a half years) it still feels like an upheaval. Last night was, of course, no different. Actually, it was worse than normal because our girls tag-teamed us, taking it in turns to wake up, meaning we were both awake for about a three hour stretch from 2.30am to 5.30am.

Thankfully today is a Saturday and so it’s our day off but, as I said, this sort of stuff happens basically every night in our home (usually in a less extreme version thank God!).

The thing is, we still need to practice, no matter how tired we are. In fact, the mornings after nights like that are the times when we need the practice the most. After a night of being woken over and over again the next day can easily become a fog of grumpiness and self-pity (I’m the World-Champion at those two things, by the way, ask Suzanne) and without even a small bit of yoga practice that is almost guaranteed.

I have found (and this is no great revelation to most of you of course) that if I even get to do a few sun salutations before my two girls wake up in the morning that my day will go exponentially better than if I try and squeeze out those extra few snoozes on the alarm clock and forego the yoga practice. Sometimes I fail spectacularly and don’t make it onto my mat but mostly I do, and I am so appreciative of the headspace and perspective that I get from even a short practice.

Like almost all parents we both love our two girls more than anything in the world but without the space that yoga practice gives I think we might struggle a lot more to show them the patience and compassion that they need to grow up feeling loved and cared for (despite the threats of being put outside in the cold at three in the morning if they don’t “stop shouting and go back to sleep right now”!!). On a side note, if you want to gauge the progress of your spiritual evolution get a four-year-old to wake you up every night for a week by shouting at the top of her voice and then observe your reaction.

It’s hard being a parent (again, not a revelation) but for me, yoga practice makes it easier, despite the time commitment. I have always heard Sharath saying that, when you have small children, your practice will change and that you should just do as much practice as you can. Guruji was also always encouraging his students to start a family. But there is a reason they coined the phrase “seventh series” in reference to raising children. It’s the toughest thing you’ll ever do. But, like that other hard thing that we do (ashtanga yoga), it’s also one of the most worthwhile.

So to all the parents out there – both current parents and those feeling hopeful of becoming parents – I give you my love and respect.

Fight the good fight and don’t stop practising.

Never stop practising!

No pain, No gain.
No coffee, No prana.
No chapatis, No strength.
No family, No fun.
-Sharath Jois