Better Parenting Through Yoga

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Each day as a parent offers new and different challenges.  Some days we feel like heroes and other days, the struggle is fierce and we falter. For those occasions when we stumble, help is on the way! We all know the physical benefits of yoga, and here are some ways that yoga can build our emotional strength for parenting at our best.

1.     Patience: With the relentless tenacity of an octopus, my 7-year old begs to turn on the TV, buy the latest thing on Amazon, and stay up late–basically a daily occurrence.  I can feel the pressure building and I’m just about to lose it. So, I detour. I call upon the determination that we’ve been cultivating in those poses that we hold long, long, longer than we want to. The simplest, ordinary situations that we want to get the hell out of because they last too long. When we feel like every last button is being pushed, think back to how we found the calm in the storm of that long Warrior II hold-we did it one deep breath by deep breath.

2.     Get Present. I’m on my 10th round of Headbanz.  The monotony is such that I find myself spacing out, thinking about what I’m going to cook for dinner, the carpool arrangements, and that email I keep forgetting to send. I catch myself, and bring it back to the present moment. This game, these children, this moment. A few seconds later, my mind wanders another path strewn with distractions. Our thoughts, especially in the quieter moments, can take flight. We practice bringing ourselves back to the present moment on the mat to strengthen that muscle of recognizing that this life, and all its magical and all its boring aspects, is completely impermanent and totally ours to live.

3.     Forgive ourselves: Sometimes we can’t yoga our way out of it. And we lose it. Despite my best efforts, sometimes I’ll yell at my kids or issue a ridiculous consequence that I have no intention of following through on. And in times like these, the most important thing to remember is that even when we fall out of a yoga pose, yoga asks us to get back up on our feet. To forgive ourselves for not being perfect. After all, we’re all just doing our best. When we give ourselves the bandwidth to make mistakes and be okay with the learning process, we then move with more grace and acceptance. And as an extra bonus, modeling acceptance and self-forgiveness for our children is pretty powerful stuff.

How to be more patient? How to be more emotionally available? Take those amazing skills you’re cultivating on the mat and bring them into your home, with your children.  Walk openly and flawed right into the present moment armed with compassion, wisdom and a good sense of humor.

As you already know–it’s an ongoing practice…

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