Spilt Milk Yoga ~ Book Review

Spilt Milk Yoga: a Guided Self-Inquiry to Finding Your Own Wisdom, Joy, and Purpose Through Motherhood is written by New Zealand artist and writer Cathryn Monro. 

Cathryn invites us to connect with ourselves. In short chapters, she shares an inspiring quote, a personal story from her experiences as a mother, a practice to try and a journaling page to help with personal refection and to record our own journeys. 

This is a very unique style book that blends the wisdom of yoga practice with the journey that is motherhood. I love that she sees motherhood as a journey that can offer us a path to wisdom, joy, and purpose. 

The connection with spilt milk is perfect. Cathryn explains that "there's spilt milk, and then there's our response to it. The spilt milk is out of our control, but the response bit is up to us." 

Cathryn uses the five niyamas of yoga to organize her book. Nyamas are the core actions of yoga, the internal practices. Each are connected to each other in different ways. The five parts of Spilt Milk Yoga are as follows:

- Swadhyaya : Self-Inquiry
- Santhosha : Contentment
- Tapas : Self-Discipline 
- Shaucha: Purity of Being 
- Ishvarapranidhana: Acknowledging the Spiritual Nature of Being

This book would be amazing to use as a year long or even life long guide. There are 52 chapters so it would be perfect to read one chapter and work on that focus for one week. I enjoyed reading and reflecting on one chapter every few days while reviewing this book. The truth in the personal stories is refreshing, I often found myself laughing and nodding along. 

As an example, in chapter 10 "Rushing, Getting Nowhere Fast", Cathryn shares the common struggle mothers have of so many things happening in one moment. Meditation is the last thing on our mind for many of us and ends up being just another "thing to do"! I could completely relate to her sharing that she does not feel calm when she tries to "sit down amidst it all" and "I could be DOING something on my TO-DO lists"! The practice of that chapter is to slow down. She explains the importance of slowing down and the benefits we might gain from that practice. She then explains very clearly how to start slowing down, with simply mindful breathing for three deep breaths. Three breaths is do-able! Focusing on how we are feeling and naming those feelings during those three breaths. The journaling page helps record those feelings and their impact.

Here is an excerpt from Spilt Milk Yoga from the Practice section of Slowing Down: 

Longing for inner calm? If your day feels chaotic you will need a still point to come back to. It is hard to respond steadily when you are off-centre. Like an unbalanced washing machine clunking out in the spin-cycle, you need to stop, rearrange your load, and get balanced so you can continue, more able to do your job as mother from the calm still point of your centre. To find your centre in the rush you have to slow down.

The practice here is slowing down. If you are tussling with where to put your focus, or overwhelmed in the jumble of your day, then slowing down your inner speed will create more space for appreciation, awareness, and acceptance. From a place of inner steadiness you are more likely to get things done effectively.

Start with mindful breathing. Take 3 slow deep breaths all the way in, all the way out. Notice how you are feeling and simply name the feelings as they arise and subside. This feeling is resistance. This feeling is irritation. This feeling is overwhelm.

This feeling is happiness. This feeling is exhaustion. This feeling is self-pity. This feeling is guilt. This feeling is despair. This feeling is relief.

You may cook resentfully or contentedly, you may sit to meditate angrily or joyfully, but rather than thinking “I’ll rush through this then I’ll slow down,” turn your mind to the quality of your being while you carry out the task. In connecting to the self through which your feelings ebb and flow, you will have to slow down. Rather than focusing on the chore or fighting yourself, simply recognize your state, connect to the self that observes and watch what happens inside you.

Slowing down – Inquiry

Practice slowing yourself down now using the breath. Take 3 deep breathes all the way in, and all the way out. Relax your jaw, your shoulders, let go of all that and breathe naturally. What is that like for you?

Take a few moments to recognize and name your feeling state.

What is the effect on you of doing this?

How might this awareness affect the next step in your day?

What other things might assist you slowing down?

Take the next step in your day with this practice of slowing down. Note your observations and discoveries here.

Each of the chapters are filled with helpful guidance like this excerpt. Even as a mother of teenagers, I have gained wisdom from Spilt Milk Yoga and know I will continue to grow as a mother. I also absolutely love that Cathryn included habit-building charts at the back of her book! This is all around a great supportive, inspiring, and helpful book for mothers. 

Spilt Milk Yoga by Cathryn Monro can be found at:

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review from Raincoast Books. All opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ.