Just shy of a year ago, I began my intensive training as a 200-hr. certified yoga teacher. In the time since, while working to find a balance between life as a full-time SAHMama and a part-time yoga teacher, I have come to realize that many of the principles that guide my yoga practice apply directly to life with my Littles. Gathered here is a list of five lessons from the mat that any parent (or yogi) can use to find a little peace and patience.
1) Set Your Intention – start the day off right by picking a word or phrase, a mantra, that represents your aspirations for parenting in general or on a daily basis. Before your feet even hit the floor, tell yourself, “I am awesome.”; “Today is a great day.”; “I am surrounded by blessings.” so that these words are already planted in your mind and not just the negatives or feelings of being behind (on sleep, time, patience, etc.) that sometimes pop into our early-morning brains. Think positive and you will find positive, even in the daily chaos.
2) Steady Breath – breath is a clear indicator of state of mind; when it is fast and shallow, your thoughts are most likely jumping all over the place, too. Learning to slow down and regulate the breath is the best practice we have for learning to do the same with our minds. Steady breath can help everything from falling asleep at night to handling meltdowns (your child’s or your own) with a wee bit more compassion. Take a breath (or ten). Pause before you speak or react. Repeat, repeat, repeat, and remember that each breath is a chance to begin anew.
3) Day-to-day is Different – just as any yoga pose can feel great one day and be a total hot mess the next, so too is this journey of parenthood forever changing. What works one day to entertain, discipline, or put your kids to bed may be a complete flop the next, and that’s OK; these are reminders that our Littles (and we!) are in a constant state of flux. We learn that while we cannot always control our circumstances, we can learn to (better, in baby steps) control our response to frustrations and change, responding to both highs and lows with grace.
4) Avoid Comparisons – in terms of yoga, every person has their own strengths (and struggles) and their own practice; no benefit comes from comparing someone else’s path to your own. This applies to how we look at our individual children and at ourselves as parents, too. Neither our children nor we are exactly like any other Little or parent out there, so embrace the uniqueness in each member of your family, and remember that comparing the development or behavior (or just about anything in this life) is a practice best left unexplored.
5) Child’s Pose – this is one of the most foundational, restorative postures in yoga, next to Savasana (final relaxation pose). Child’s pose — in which you take your knees wide, hips back over the heels, arms stretched out in front, and forehead to the floor — is a calming and focusing practice. It slows the breath, soothes the mind, and centers the body. In it, you come back to a place of peace and innocence associated with childhood, so use it. Use it as often as you need to bring yourself back down to earth (literally), and use it with your Littles to help them connect with their mind, body, and spirit, too.
As you try out these concepts, please remember that this life, both on and off the mat, is about practice – not for the sake of perfection, but progress; when we allow ourselves to focus on improvement, not mastery, we create space for gradual but great growth and change. Best wishes on your journey!