How Yoga Made Us Better Parents
My guess is that if you’re reading this then you are already a parent. Since you’re already a parent--let’s be honest—we could all be better parents, myself included. But who helps you when you are a parent? If you’re lucky, maybe a grandma or grandpa, an aunt/uncle, adult friend or a paid babysitter might provide a little relief from the constant deluge of parenting duties. For many of us, unless we pay for help, school is the only break we have from our sweet babies.
My husband and I spent the entire summer, every single moment of every single day, with our kids. We ate three meals a day together, at the table, we did chores, we traveled, we played and we nearly went insane. During this period, I had some stellar parenting moments, some mediocre ones, and some just plain poor ones! It was during one of these meltdowns that I came to a realization. I was wasting the power of my yoga practice by not sharing it with my kids.
I had, at different points in their lives had them do yoga, but I had never shared my practice with them. My practice is sacred to me. It’s my quiet time, my inner time, my time to reset, and the idea of involving my loonies in my practice sounded like emotional suicide, however, the exact opposite turned out to be true.
We’ve all read how yoga helps kids by enhancing physical flexibility, increasing coordination and balance, and boosting self-esteem/confidence--all while strengthening the mind/body communication. Wow! Yes, wow…, but there is much more that occurs when doing yoga with your kids.
I guess the key difference between the benefits I’ve observed and the hundreds of articles I’ve read is that we did it together. Every day, rain or shine we rolled out mats and moved through Asana after Asana together. My husband and I praised the girls for mindful concentration, for achieving a particular pose, or having excellent posture. We laughed when daddy farted. They all rushed to my aid when I lost my balance. We held hands during Shavasana and when their little brains were quiet pure love flowed freely between our clasped hands.
When we started doing yoga together, as a family, we all gave each other a lot more grace. There developed greater ease and appreciation between us. I recognized my daughters as “beautiful beings becoming,” instead of demon spawn who are trying to destroy the house and my sanity in one fell swoop of their banshee screaming, attention-seeking behaviors! I witnessed how much they needed this outlet. You should have seen them when they could do a perfect wheel pose and I couldn’t. They rushed to praise me for trying. They mimicked my own encouragement to them. Yoga had allowed them to see me at my best, and now they were imitating it. I was profoundly moved. Daddy doing yoga with us helped them to see that yoga is for everyone. It helped them see their big, gruff sounding dad in a sweet vulnerable light. He appreciated their flexibility and made us all laugh. After a particularly good yoga session, we all roll over after Shavasana into a big family heap. Our breathing is slow, we are calm and we are in love with each other and ourselves. This is the true gift of yoga with your kids.