6 Ways Yoga Helps Me Be A Better Parent
Yoga Improves Parenting
Being a mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Even with education training and over a decade of experience under my belt, I was totally unprepared for my spirited daughter.
As I struggled through her infant and toddler years, feeling like a total failure most of the time, I turned to my yoga practice to help me get through my feelings of hopelessness, frustration, anxiety, and impatience.
Yoga didn’t exactly make everything perfect, but as I integrated my yoga practice into all facets of my life, I felt more confident, content, clear, and calm.
I drew a line in the sand last year, after months of depression, which I had never experienced prior to giving birth.
I woke up one morning and decided that was it—I couldn’t live in the darkness any longer, for the sake of my own health and my daughter’s.
I turned to my breath to bring me back to balance.
And it worked. Every day, throughout the day, I continue to use my deep belly breathing to center and calm myself. That allows me to stop, reflect, and better respond to my child’s needs.
Setting up a daily morning meditation routine has changed my life. I simply sit cross-legged on a bolster, close my eyes, and count my mindful breaths with my mala beads for 10-15 minutes.
It’s nothing fancy, but the practice has brought calm to our entire household. My daughter sometimes sits on my lap or plays beside me while I meditate. She too experiences the benefits of my meditation.
A few months ago, we were away on a family holiday, and each morning, the two of us sat in silence on the balcony overlooking the ocean.
I practiced my meditation while she played with her scissors, markers, tape, and paper. There weren’t any tantrums that holiday (okay, maybe one or two over the week), and we were both relaxed and happy.
3. Yoga Postures
Another form of moving meditation that gets me out of my head and into my heart and body is the practice of yoga postures in my weekly yoga class or home practice.
Practicing asana (yoga poses) on my yoga mat brings me back to the present moment, grounds me into my life’s purpose, and allows me to forgive myself for my shortcomings as a parent.
I leave yoga class refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to be a better role model for my child. Yoga is so much more than bending and stretching!
4. Yoga Philosophy
I keep a copy of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali close by, and I use the scriptures to help me through life’s challenges. These are a few of my favorite lessons:
- Think the opposite when faced with negative thoughts.
- To be happy yourself, you must be happy for those around you.
- Bringing your mind to a single focus will help eliminate life’s obstacles.
- We need a balance of both effort and surrender in life.
I’m ashamed to say that there are many times when I lose control of my emotions and act inappropriately in front of my daughter.
But once the dust has settled and I’ve had a chance to apologize to myself and my daughter, I come back to the main purpose of being a human being—to be happy, kind, compassionate, and productive.
And the wise words from the ancient philosophy of yoga help guide me along that journey.
5. Positive Affirmations
Sometimes, when I need to alter my mindset, I use positive affirmations (or mantras) to guide me.
When my daughter was an infant, I found myself repeating “this too shall pass” in my mind to better cope with her screaming and late-night feedings or while changing diapers.
Through the toddler years, I used to tell myself to “stay calm” through the tantrums.
And now that she’s entered preschool, I’m using “connect and redirect” as a mantra to help guide us both to make good choices.
Whenever I need a little pick-me-up, I turn to repeating affirmations to fill my mind with positivity.
6. Service to Others
What better way to get out of your own head than to offer service to others, right? Another thing that caught me by surprise when I became a parent was the isolation, which lasted for the first few years.
And it’s not just because my husband works long hours or because we don’t live near family, but parents everywhere experience isolation because most of us don’t utilize the close-knit support of families in this modern world.
One thing that I’ve found beneficial is to think of karma yoga (or service to others).
Even as we are still getting to know our community, I’m consciously pushing myself to think of our new friends’ birthdays or special events, and to look out for local charity organizations that my daughter and I can support together.
Helping others just makes sense, and I believe it’s an integral part of my life as a mom.
How do you find that yoga helps you to be a better parent? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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