This month our Trailblazers feature takes a different course. The lovely Sharlene Bagga-Taves, creator of Brookland Yoga, answers the questions readers are asking, but she also shares a brief essay about the daily lessons she is learning from her primary mindfulness teacher: her 20 month old son Shawn. Read on to hear what he is teaching her about joy and the power of love - and learn more about her New Beginning.
In Her Own Words: An Essay on Motherhood
by Sharlene Bagga-Taves,
Funny moments to remember:
One) Friday morning. I wanted to snuggle with my son Shawn before Joe (my husband) was going to get him up and ready. So I picked him up, dead asleep in his crib, and took him into my bed where we laid down together. He fell deeply back asleep. About twenty or so minutes later, an ambulance or fire truck drove by blasting its siren. My son jolted awake and sprung into a seated position and joyfully announced: “Truck!” What a great way to start his day: with so much enthusiasm and excitement for what is out there in the world!
Two) Yesterday, after an interrupted nap time due to plane travel, I found my son in a … Let’s just say vulnerable state come 5:30 pm. In his diaper (and nothing else) I offered him a snack of Greek yogurt and these multi-seeded crackers that he loves to snack on at home. He got wind of a fruit bar my mom was putting in the fridge (whole other story - possibly a book) and wanted it so bad! So, she gave it to him. I opened it, and by habit broke it into two pieces which is how I would have eaten it. Well - I forgot how sensitive nap-less toddlers can be and as soon as he saw it wasn’t whole (granted not a single morsel had been bitten off), he cried like the day he was born. I couldn’t help but giggle because clearly this boy was super tired, so I picked him up, soothed him, and then played a little game pretending my husband was chasing us but was never going to get the little bean from my arms. Two short rounds of that game later, I sat him back in his booster seat and handed him one of the fruit bar halves which he happily devoured.
A little distraction can really elevate a tired toddlers mood! Of course, a little mommy love and hugs don’t hurt.
Learnings: Yes, it was my instinct to pick him up when he was crying, but I also felt this (societal?) pressure to teach him a lesson (i.e. Not pick him up because what he was crying about wasn’t “reasonable"). I was, however, empowered to act on that first loving and kind instinct. A crying baby/toddler/adult (dare I say) is often reacting to a deeper feeling - the crying may just come out when a small incident sparks it. He was frustrated, tired, didn’t know how to make that feeling pass and needed some love, cuddling and a giggle to re-compose himself and try again.
How did you know it was time to make a change?
I don’t think I can pinpoint it to a specific moment, but since I moved to Brookland in 2014, I have been surprised that there is no yoga studio right in the neighborhood. When I was living abroad in Bangkok from 2012-2014, I started yoga classes with expats and Thais at the U.S. Embassy, where I worked. I loved the relationships that these classes facilitated and it was a great way to get to know my co-workers outside of the office. I was inspired to create a similar community feel in Brookland when I returned to D.C. Just before returning to work after a year off with my son, I decided to take the risk and start Brookland Yoga!
What gave you the confidence you needed to move forward?
My husband. He is extremely practical, especially when it comes to finances, so his belief in my business ideas and his encouragement helped me move forward and begin to act on my dreams. My son too, although he doesn’t know, has given space to think about what is really important to me in life. One of those things is building community.
Who/what inspires you today?
Getting to know people through my classes and feeling that we are building a yoga community in Brookland truly inspires me - both personally in that I've made new friendships and also professionally. Meeting other local business owners is also very inspiring.
What are you dreaming about now?
Strengthening community amongst the teachers I’ve hired.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
To experiment. With events, classes, even partnerships. I have found that it is the best way for me to discover the direction in which I'd like to see Brookland Yoga go.
What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you started?
To give myself a break….I think I pictured Brookland Yoga running smoothly and fully as soon as I launched it! But I realize now that I’ve been quite rushed to see results and that building a business and creating new unique yoga experiences takes time and that I’m actually at a pretty good place with it given that it’s been so little time.
What encouragement can you offer someone who wants to make a change but is apprehensive?
I think that if the change you’d like to make feels drastic, why not start with a smaller change and move gradually in the direction you want to go in?
What book(s) have provided guidance or inspiration for your New Beginning?
My dad wrote a book when I was nine called Laugh or Cry, It’s Your Choice. I’ve read excerpts of it lately and it makes me remember to be patient and work through whatever happens. I also read a great book about mindful parenting by Jon Kabat-Zinn about staying present with your child and bringing mindfulness into everyday life.
You can learn more about Brookland Yoga and Mindful Creativity, including class and workshop offerings, here. For the full story of how this pop-up studio became reality, read here.