Yoga and Parenting
We all know yoga benefits our health, but did you also know that a mindful practice helps us parent? First, let’s look at how yoga helps children manage their feelings. My oldest child is the stereotypical first born. She is a perfectionist and often overthinks things. On one hand, it’s great. She is the first one to complete her responsibilities and she works hard at school and her extracurricular activities. However, she often puts too much pressure on herself to be the best. As a result, she often experiences mild to moderate anxiety. For example, at the beginning of the school year, she started complaining her tummy hurt every time she sat down to do her homework. At first, I thought maybe it was a digestive issue but after some parental sleuthing realized she was stressing about her workload. I began meditating with her for ten minutes before she started her work and the stomach pain vanished. Now, whenever she starts to experience the physiological effects of stress she knows how to get calm and centered.
Yogic breathing has also been instrumental for her and my other two children. From an early age, I taught each of my daughters how to ujjayi breathe by simply inhaling and exhaling fully through the nose. When my middle child falls—which surprisingly happens often—rather than crying or screaming, she takes a deep inhale and exhale. And my youngest daughter, who gets her short temper from my side of the family, is currently working on ujjayi breathing before lashing out in times of frustration or anger.
As a parent, yoga has been instrumental in maintaining my own temper. Whether my child has colored the walls with permanent marker, talked back or some other aggravating familial faux pas, I really have to make a conscious effort to not raise my voice or overreact by taking a moment and breathing. Also as parents, we each have different times in the day when the weight of having children feels heavy. Maybe it’s in the morning when you are rushing to get out the door. Or maybe it is the evening when practices, homework, dinner, laundry, bath time, etcetera seem like an insurmountable mountain. It could be, too, not a particular time of day but the stage your child is in—from the terrible twos to the teenage years. Either way, simple yoga poses like legs up the wall or a wide legged forward fold can help you generate positive energy and ground you.
Becca Edwards is a certified birth doula, holistic health coach, yoga and Barre instructor with Jiva Yoga, writer/blogger, and owner of b.e.WELL+b.e.CREATIVE ().