I had been practicing yoga for over a year, and had integrated it deeply into my life. It gave me a sense of control; it was something in my life that I was doing by myself and for myself. Yoga had been a key stepping stone for me in climbing out of a dark part of my life, and I had so many emotions precariously tied to it that I was afraid to upset the balance. And, to be honest, my mom was a big part of the issues I had getting control in my life. It felt like I had finally found something good, and she wanted to take it for herself.  We’ve also tried other times to work out together, with negative results.

My mom asked if she could do yoga with me. I said no.

I understand that turning someone away when they’re asking for help seems to go against all core values of practicing yoga, at least the way that it has been established and popularized. But in the end, I had a feeling this would be a situation in which it was necessary for me to be a little selfish.

As it turned out, I was lucky. We were lucky. Just from seeing the mental and physical results I had gained from practicing yoga, my mom was sufficiently inspired to start her own practice, to find a teacher whom she liked and a time of day that worked best for her. And after a few weeks, she realized that she loved it as well, and I was thrilled to hear it.

Now, she practices late at night, and I prefer mornings. She likes to be alone; I love taking classes at my favorite yoga studio, and sometimes being joined by my friends. Truthfully, we both would have had to make far too many sacrifices to practice together.

Occasionally, my mom will come to me with questions about certain poses, with comments or jokes about the ones that she can’t quite manage yet, even with requests for advice. I’m glad that we have something to talk about, and a topic where I can be the more experienced one. I think we’re both much better off for having undertaken the beginnings of these journeys on our own, and coming together at this point instead.

Ultimately, if you’re not doing yoga how you need it in your life, it can be incredibly unrewarding to stick with it. There’s nothing wrong with needing to keep a part of your life to yourself for as long as you need. And sometimes, you might even be surprised to find out how much growing yourself can help you grow your relationships.

Tell us in the comments: What’s a decision you’ve made that may seem selfish, but serves a greater purpose?

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