The Decolonial Parent

a continuous work in progress

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Release and Ready

Do you have a point of focus for the year ahead yet?

It’s not for everyone, but I typically find it helpful to sit quietly with my thoughts at the turn of the calendar page. This can take any form: barefoot during the silence of a new morning with a hot cup of tea and the rain falling; walking briskly through frozen sunbeams, wrapped up in layers with vapor for breath; and sometimes, as this year, as a portion of a yoga practice.

I’ve spent the past several Januaries with Yoga With Adriene’s 30-day yoga journey, and it has carried different significance for me each time. This year, my body is heavy and limited in ways that are new experiences for me, so we’re exploring a brand-new relationship. No chaturanga-to-cobra-or-upward-facing-dog, downward dog, forward fold, or savasana for me this year. This means that, throughout a yoga flow where I’m carving my own deep line of ample modifications, my moments of deepest connection with the class are in the moments of stillness. So, I take what serves me and I leave the rest.

And, there’s so much to discover. I admit that I’ve always overlooked the power of a bharmanasana, weight evenly distributed through fingertips and shins, lengthening from crown to tailbone, spine aligned and open to the breath. In making bharmanasana my home on the mat, my point of focus for the year ahead emerged as the two words “release” and “ready”.

Here are some ways I’m interpreting those words and putting them into practice:

Release: letting go of —

  • tension in my body,
  • expectations to move differently (on the mat and through the world) based on past forms – and any frustration that brings up,
  • doubts and fears about my ability to embody this moment and the new challenges I face (both on the mat and in my life),
  • expecting my body and life to look or present a certain way during a certain timeframe (e.g. how “very/not very pregnant” people tell me I look, or how many weeks postpartum I should “bounce back”, or what a perfect nursery looks like)
  • doubts and fears about the unknown and unexpected that 2024 has in store for me and my loved ones.

Ready: preparing —

  • for surprises and infinite possibilities (like bharmanasana!),
  • to discover new things about my own ability to survive and thrive under different circumstances,
  • for unfamiliar and uncomfortable emotional and physical states of being,
  • in both theory and practice for a new way of life and way of seeing the world,
  • for being organized and other-aware in a way I’ve never had to before when taking care of just myself.

… and I’m sure that I know nothing about what’s in store, so this list is only the beginning!

I find having a point of focus for the year helps me to grow as a person. When I’m trying to improve a technical skill in a sport or craft, I don’t try to improve the entire thing all at once (e.g. improving a deadlift). Instead, I focus on specific elements of the skill.

In the example of a deadlift, I would focus on each element of the starting posture (getting my feet into position, keeping my shoulders back and back straight as I hip hinge, keeping my knees aligned as I bend, etc) one at a time. Then I would focus on each element of the lift one at a time, and so on. Slowly, my lift improves (and helps me get stronger). Furthermore, each element I’ve improved upon is transferable to other skills. My deadlifts are better, but so are my squats, my jumps, my balance, my breathing, etc.

So this year I am hoping that, in spite of the huge changes that are taking place, I’ll find the space to release and ready myself for the present and future. Who knows what infinite possibilities will unfold?


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