How My Daughter Revitalized My Practice With One Word…

How My Daughter Revitalized My Practice With One Word


Kids are natural yogis. Babies and toddlers can effortlessly perform all the yoga poses that we as adults take years to master.

Ever since my kids were small, I would name the pose they contorted themselves into. My daughter would put her head down and lift her diapered booty in the air. Then I would yell out, “Downward dog!” She would sit on her knees and put her head on the floor as I would shout, “Child’s pose!” My other daughter who would grab her toes when she was laying on the changing pad and I’d say, “Happy baby!”

I didn’t teach them yoga, I just taught them the names for what they were already doing. The other day I was doing some yoga on my own in the living room and my four-year-old watched me going through my vinyasa for a bit. After a few moments, she put her hands at heart center, gave me a little bow and quietly said, “Mamaste.”

My heart melted. Instead of namaste she said Mamaste! What a delightfully clever grammar gaffe.

SEE ALSO: What Is A Hamsa? (Infographic)

Toddler-speak is telling.

I’ve been replaying her toddler-speak in my mind. Often when toddlers stumble over a word, it is more than just a cute mispronunciation. They are associating the meaning of the word they are trying to say with the meaning of another word they are familiar with. For example, when my sister was younger, she and my dad would talk each to each other right before going to sleep. She always asked him to “talk her in” instead of tuck her in. So what did “mamaste” mean to my daughter? Maybe it just meant mama’s practicing yoga. Or maybe she, like most kids, is a miniature sage, imparting her wisdom in her adorably candid way.


Namaste literally translates to “I bow to you.” If I say namaste to someone, I mean that I recognize and appreciate the love and light inside of them. Maybe Mamaste is the opposite version of that. Maybe it’s all about me, as a mom, bowing to myself, kindling the inner calmness, compassion and self-love I hope will reflect off of me and be absorbed by my children. Mamaste is honoring my body and well-being by taking care of it. I must bend, bow, and breathe, so I do not break.

Self-care is not optional.

Sometimes as a parent, I get so wrapped up in taking care of my family that I put my own well-being in the back burner. There is always something to do and someone to take care of and as a result, it’s easy to feel guilty when I turn my attention away from those things, even for a moment. The problem is, that is not only unhealthy, it is certainly not the best parenting practice. I cannot reflect love and light to those around me if I’m not nurturing it within myself in the first place. It’s like the idea of putting on my oxygen mask first before I help those around me. I’m not much use to others if I can’t inhale, exhale, repeat.

Self-care is their care.

I know that sometimes I need to spend time on my mat and away from distraction, in order to take care of myself. A friend once pointed out that behaviors like this aren’t selfish. They’re actually smart. Being physically absent for one hour means I am more emotionally present during the other twenty-three. It’s not just healthier for my children on that day, it’s better for them down the road as well.

When my daughters are adults, I want them to know that it is okay for them to take care of their own physical and emotional needs. The best way to teach that is to practice what I preach. Or just practice my pranayama, which is probably a more effective strategy, don’t you think? So to you mamas out there taking care of everyone around you, make sure to take care of yourselves too. We might sometimes pretend that we’re the ones teaching everything to our kids, but we all secretly know that they’re the ones that remind us what is truly important in life.

My daughter didn’t introduce me to yoga, but she gave me the reminder, and the name, for what she knew I should be practicing. Mamaste.


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Christine Skoutelas

Christine Skoutelas is a mama, writer, doodler, runner, and yogi. She is a depression fighter and gratitude practicer. Follow her blog, A <a href="">Morning Grouch</a>, and find her on <a href="">Facebook</a>, <a href="">Twitter</a>, <a href="">Pinterest</a> and <a href="">Instagram</a>.

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