Real Yogis, Real Stories
July 29, 2015

Mindful Motherhood by Monica Eleazar-Manzano


How Monica’s Yoga Practice Prepares Her for Motherhood: Birth and Beyond


My journey into Yoga started early on. I had a neighbour who was vegetarian and practiced yoga and meditation in the Ananda Marga Center. It piqued my curiosity as a child. I debated with her on religion and spirituality but eventually joined her in trying out the plant-based diet, sits and Hatha classes under a Balinese monk. Soon after, I signed up for my very first Yoga retreat in Tagaytay. I remember being one of the youngest in class and yet somehow, I knew, I would do this for the rest of my life.

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What had drawn me to the practice was not merely the physical benefits, but because of something more…like HOW I FELT after each class. My mind, which tends to go over-drive, was suddenly lulled into this deep state of serenity. My body felt strong yet at ease. I used Yoga as a tool, a refuge for anything tough I went through especially in very chaotic and emotional times.



Fast-forward to today, it is the memory of these blissful sensations that drive me to unroll my mat. As a mother, yoga teacher and an entrepreneur, I look to my practice for everyday support and answers. While I may not have luxury of 60 minutes-uninterrupted-self-love everyday, I make it a point to breathe my body with awareness whenever I am stuck in traffic fetching my son from school or while answering emails. Most often than not, I can sense the tightness I tend to hold in many areas of my body start to melt with every mindful breathing. This proves to be useful in sticky parenting situations. Sometimes you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, and yet, if you take it moment by moment, breath by breath, everything passes- the good and the bad. If you see “the bigger picture”, then you panic much less.


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The most transformative experience of my life so far has been the healing birth of my daughter, Maya. After having gone through two traumatic abdominal surgeries (My right ovary was removed in college due to a cyst and then I had a c-section delivery for my son’s birth), I became completely obsessed with achieving a drug-free vaginal birth after caesarian (VBAC) for my baby, which I triumphantly did and wrote about at



(This photo was taken by Stephanie Dandan) 


Did yoga help prepare me for this? Oh, definitely! But more than asana, the yoga of the mind is truly what helped manifest this dream birth of mine. Having certainty is what made it all come true. When you allow an ounce of doubt to creep in because of fears, then it cascades into physical interventions. Thoughts become things. It’s as simple as that! When you come to practice yoga regularly, what you really are doing is training the muscles of your brain, rewiring it to armour yourself from negative thinking patterns.


Lately, I’ve been posting photos on my Instagram feed with the hashtag #MindfulMotherhood as a reminder for me to slow down, even pause at these sacred, precious moments with my children. The concept of time is tricky. We rush through many things and phases and yet we plead for more (time) when the children have all grown. I am so grateful when my kids pull me into the present reality. My 1 year old daughter tugs at my clothes and shrieks non-stop whenever I am busy working on my laptop, wanting no less than my full attention because she knows the golden nugget of truth: This moment is everything. My children are truly my greatest yoga gurus!







Monica or @dharmadreamsbig on Instagram, leads yoga retreats all-year round through FLOW ( and conducts Sacred Pregnancy Conscious Birth and Sacred Post-partum Workshops and Retreats with her doula, Irina at She blogs regularly at and