Yoga Mail

By Dr Sumathi

I still remember clearly the evening I sat at the dining table with my husband, discussing whether we should keep our boys home from school amid all the Covid-19 reports. It was a difficult discussion and we ended it without any conclusion – to be continued, we decided. It was to my immense relief that the government announced the Movement Control Order (MCO) the next day, because I didn’t have to shoulder the responsibility of keeping my children out of school. Now, I could gratefully keep my family at home, away from the looming threat, without doubting I had made the right decision.

Settling into new normal

Then came the planning, I was going to make this the best, most productive time of our lives – yes, I was going to plan for absolutely everyone in the family and ensure maximum productivity and growth. The plan looked like this:
7:00 am – Everybody wakes up
7:30 am – Yoga and meditation with the family
8:00 am – Breakfast followed by lessons (for the children) / work (for the adults)

The day then continues with a healthy, wholesome lunch in which instant noodles play no part ever, followed by creative activity and active time for the whole family. You get the idea?

I, personally had great visions of signing up for numerous online courses and coming out of MCO with a wealth of new knowledge and certificates, catching up on all the paintings that are yearning for my attention, finally reading the books patiently waiting on my overflowing bookshelves and watching the movies I keep promising myself!

How have my plans panned out over the past 2 months you ask? Well, all we’ve managed to do regularly and on schedule to date is have our meals together – something that I’m very grateful for because fascinating stories get exchanged at the dining table. We seem to have settled into a new normal – and it doesn’t involve any of my well-laid plans of 2 months ago. No certificates of achievements for me and ‘Maggi Kari’ is a family favourite that provides much-needed respite from kitchen duties every now and then. This new schedule seems to be working well for us in these times.

Yoga and meditation are my interest – so I go it alone. Some days it happens and some days it doesn’t. Some days little hands and feet join me on the mat of their own accord. Over time, I’ve become okay with this. Breakfast is followed by time for school work. Teachers have been amazingly resourceful in providing the boys with material to continue learning from home – YouTube videos and quizzes that hold their attention and make the learning experience fun. I am tremendously in awe of these amazing beings who despite having challenges of their own are dedicated to keep doing what they can for our children in these trying times.

After lunch, the boys spend time playing or watching television. And the astounding and futuristic entities that come out of a few hours with a box full of Legos and a child’s imagination are absolutely mind-blowing. In the evenings, if the weather permits, we play outside and if it doesn’t, we pull out board games.

Every interaction has been and continues to be an opportunity for heartfelt sharing and uncontrolled outbursts of laughter – these are no doubt my favourite and will remain etched in my memory forever.

And while this new routine has quietly fallen into place and is helping give all of us a sense of structure, we are also learning that not everyone feels up to the routine at all times – and that’s ok. We’re learning that everyone needs “me time” in different quantities and in varying styles and to ask for it is okay. We respectfully and gracefully allow the other to recharge in the way that suits them best. We learn to manoeuvre around the wants and needs of members of the family – someone doesn’t like loud music, let’s use earphones, someone needs to jump around all the time – there you go, use the trampoline.

Creative and quality time with family

We are learning how to accept and make allowances for each other. We take each other’s needs and wants into consideration and we cooperate and collaborate. We are acquiring skills in conflict resolution. Apologies are much quicker and more heartfelt in these times. We are all learning new skills. The boys spend more time in the kitchen with me: “Can I cut this? Can I stir this? This goes in next right?” My husband is making efforts to cook up new dishes too, much to the family’s delight.

I feel we have really excelled in the creativity department as well. From spending time creating art, to reviving games from our childhood – anyone for a game of ‘Win, Lose or Draw’? – to creating a ‘Jungle Safari’ to celebrate a little one’s birthday. Both boys speak with shining eyes and enthusiastic voices about that birthday. We have celebrated two birthdays with another just around the corner – just the four of us. It has been as fabulous as if we had invited the whole huge family over.

As I look at my own personal growth over these two months – I’ve come to know and understand myself so much more than I ever have in the past. The efforts I make to treat myself with kindness and compassion is notable – I feel like I’m finally walking the talk. The amount of reading and learning I’ve been doing in order to support my family emotionally through these difficult times is substantial. And It warms my heart when I watch interactions that would previously go south, turn into opportunities for repair, healing and connection now, simply because there is no rush to be anywhere else in this moment and we have spent time on refining the skills that support the process.

When I was asked if I had any thoughts about the soon to be eight weeks of being at home with family – I answered that I really hadn’t given it much thought – we are just coping and being. And now as I reflect, I realise we are doing so much more than that – we are growing and thriving – and wonderfully so!

Be who you want your children to be

Personally, I am learning to let go of expectations and the need for perfection.

I am learning to accept myself without judgement, understanding my limitations and embracing my strengths. These are exactly the qualities I want to role model for my growing children.

As a family, we are learning how to accept each other without judgement, we are extending support to each other in the warmest and apt way we can think of and we are learning to communicate our needs clearly to each other. We are learning to take responsibility and apologise for our part in conflicts while reaching out to each other to resolve the underlying issues. We are being present and enjoying the here and now alone and with each other. If this is not laying down strong roots, I really don’t know what is. I’m not saying any of this is a done deal, or that this is the ideal for every family. I’m saying these are the values that are important for my family and this is a process – as I said, we are learning. No one is looking for perfection, only progress.

We are most definitely growing and thriving… and I am infinitely grateful that we are…

I would like to add that I am aware my family is one of the extremely privileged ones who get to stay home and together during this global pandemic. We get to work, study and continue to learn and grow without really worrying where our food for the day is coming from. This is something that I remind myself of every single day and I am eternally thankful for. I am intensely aware that not everyone in the world is so privileged. We help out in any way we can within our means, and hope that help and care reaches those who are in need of it. Namaskar.