The yoga of parenting

IMG_8893I’m constantly trying to find new ways of including yoga in my everyday family life.  I practice with and without my toddler, I do some deep breathing before bed time, but I’ve been wanting to go a little deeper than the physical.  How do yoga principles and philosophy translate to my non-ashram, ‘normal’ American life?  When my life seems hectic and full of to-do lists, how can I approach my day with the calmness and patience that yoga affords?  And more importantly, how do I translate this to my behaviors as a parent so that I can be the best example for my son?

These are questions I’ve been trying to tackle lately; ones with not so simple answers.  I been reading through some old yoga books, thinking about my practice, and reflecting on my daily routines to see what yoga means to me at this point in my life.  The term ‘parenting’ means multiple people (parent and child) and yoga is usually regarded as a practice to be done alone to better just your ‘self’.  So how do I take this seemingly solo practice and apply it to parenting?  How does it transform and what does ‘the yoga of parenting’ mean?  I’ve come up with 3 principles that are helping me to live my life as both a yogi and parent-

  • Love without attachment.  One of the main concepts in yoga philosophy is the idea of non-attachment.  It is talked about mainly during meditation practices- how you should notice your thoughts and emotions without attaching to them.  Thoughts and emotions, whether positive or negative, are not who you are, it’s just activity in your mind that often changes.  When you don’t attach to your emotions, you can remain calm with your self.  This applies to parenting in an oh so obvious, and difficult, way.  Our children are not ourselves.  They are their own individual beings who at some point will leave their parents.  We need to learn to love them without being ‘too’ attached (how can you not be a little attached?!).
  • Mindfulness in the monotonous.  This means the end of multi-tasking.  Being present in what you are doing, no matter how boring it may be.  I’ve chosen to involve my toddler in household chores to make them more entertaining and to teach him how to do things.  Yes, this means that these things take much longer to get done, but doing one thing at a time, being present with what we’re doing, and talking our way through it is a great way to bring mindfulness to some of the boring routines of daily life.  Kyan has learned to love being helpful- whether it’s doing laundry (moving clothes from our front-load washer to our front-load dryer), dishes (unloading dishwasher by identifying items, then handing them to me to put away), or cooking (getting select items from refrigerator and stirring things together).
  • Calm, confident, compassionate.  Every day, OK, several times a day, I remind myself of these 3 traits and how to me, they are the pinnacle of a darn good parent.  These are traits that I hope to embody fully one day and traits I hope to see displayed daily in my child.  I used to notice these traits mainly after a truly exceptional yoga class.  I’d strut out of class feeling a sense of calm within myself, confidence in who I am, and compassion for everyone around me.  These traits that I associate with yoga are now traits that I hope to exemplify as a parent.  If only everyone on the planet could embody these traits!

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