Only 3 tools presented below... But most probably the most powerful one, if they are part of our lifestyle.
"Having a baby nowadays seems like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, to those of us old enough to remember life before the internet anyway. With the click of a button you can find, research and register for thousands of gadgets and tools promised to aid you along the foretold rocky path of parenting. However, many parents soon discover these short-cut pacifiers quickly wear thin on their ability to pacify and after you’ve tried all the top 10 tips from the latest issue of Parenting magazine, the reality is that you need some better tools in your belt.
I’m here to tell you, yoga is that tool. For those of you parents who have a regular yoga practice this will make perfect sense. For those of you that don’t, I hope this short list of reasons will be enough to get you on the mat.
Here are 3 reasons yoga should be the #1 tool in your parenting tool belt:
#1 – BREATH
Pranayama – control of the breath. Breath, as an involuntarily action, becomes fast and laborious when our stress levels rise, as they often do consoling a crying baby who won’t settle or a screaming toddler losing it because the strawberries are all gone (which he ate).
Taking deep, deliberate breaths shuts off those cortisol signals and engages your parasympathetic nervous system. This in turn allows your body to know that even though the baby is screaming as if it’s being attacked by a lion, it’s not, and everything is actually ok.
Teach your kids how to breathe too! As soon as babies are old enough to mimic blowing, start practicing intentional breath. Toddlers have a hard time understanding the difference in significance between ‘I dropped my toy’ and ‘my finger is profusely bleeding.’ Based on the intensity of their screaming, you have no clue if their life is at stake or if they need a nap, and frankly they don’t either. This isn’t to say children aren’t emotionally intelligent beings, they absolutely are. But our job as parents is to guide them through discomfort and pain and give them tools to become emotionally healthy adults. Pranayama works the same way whether you’re 1 or 33, and giving them this tool is something that will help them throughout their lives.
Try this: When my kids were really young and couldn’t understand “take a deep breath,” I would make a circle with my hands and say “blow through the circle.” Not only did they think it was a fun game but it resulted in learning how to take deep breaths and melted the tantrum into giggles and hugs.
#2 – CENTERING YOURSELF
Being a parent is a non-stop job of putting someone else’s needs before your own. It doesn’t matter if you’re tired, sick, had a bad day, or your dog died. Your kids need you physically and emotionally all the time. Taking an hour a day for your yoga practice to reconnect with yourself, nurturing your own mind-body connection, is not a luxury — it is absolutely VITAL!
Taking time to nurture yourself is an act of self-love. You are acknowledging your own self-worth and value. It is much easier to give and receive love (especially the kind necessary for raising another human being) when we give that level of care to ourselves. When you are centered, when you practice self-love, you create a welcoming environment for your children to view themselves and others in that same light. Children need to see their parents loving their body and nourishing their mind. Children need to see us doing yoga! Before you know it, you’ll likely catch your 1 year old upside down mimicking a rather impressive downward dog.
#3 – AWARENESS
Yoga is amazing in it’s ability to bring awareness into your life. Suddenly, if only for that hour, the world releases its hurried frenzy. It doesn’t matter if you have a thousand emails or a sink full of dirty dishes waiting for you. Yoga allows you to just be.
Drawing that awareness into other areas of your life is an immensely helpful tool for dealing with all of life’s not-so-subtle moments. When your baby wakes for the 4th time in 2 hours, or you step on a lego on your way to help your toddler (again), awareness can bring it all into focus (probably after some deep breathing). Awareness allows you to be in this moment, and right now the moment is chaotic and insanely beautiful. Awareness is the laughter that comes when you truly grasp that there won’t always be legos to step on and you’re simultaneously grateful and a little sad.
The awareness that yoga gives us takes the cliche phrase “this too shall pass” and reminds us that what passes isn’t just diapers and tantrums, it’s squishy little fingers and bedtime stories too. It may seem more bitter than sweet, but that’s why awareness might just be the most powerful tool of all.
No doubt about it, yoga is a life changer. These 3 tools, learned on the mat and applied to parenting, will absolutely shed new light on this messy, hilarious, and profoundly inspiring journey. When it comes down to being real, we can all agree that every person is different. No piece of advice is going to be applicable to every kid or situation, but if you can remember to breathe, make time to honor yourself, and approach this season of life with awareness, you’ll find the path to be a little less rocky and have a much better view. Wishing you and your baby happiness and health."