Lady Of The Manor: Does ‘Yoga Parenting’ Really Work?

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Despite my best intentions, when it comes to parenting my kids, I often lose my shit. A dropped backpack, a play fight gone south or rude table manners can quickly turn my world into one filled with yelling, sulking and flying off the handle (and that’s just me!). On one of many desperate forays into the world of Internet parenting tips, I came across an article by Dr. Timothy Davis, a family psychotherapist who suggests using the concepts of Yoga as a method for parenting boys.

I was skeptical. For me, a lapsed Bikram yoga addict, regular yoga was a snore. It demanded a calmness and stillness of breath I couldn’t deal with for 60 minutes, let alone on a day-to-day basis with children. Since my boys were born, I’ve practiced far more aggressive workouts like spinning, boxing and boot camp. And so I started to wonder: were these hard-core cardio sessions affecting my parenting?

Perhaps. When my kids were little, my exercise regime consisted of speed walks or treadmill journeys. Nothing too strenuous. And, during that time, I never yelled at boys. When I think about it now, I laugh. Of course I didn’t yell! They were super small and most of their actions were impulsive. Sure, they had teary meltdowns or tired tantrums, but they’d run their course and it’d be over.

Now it’s a different story. It’s a short road from crankiness to nastiness, turning from sweet to sour in an instant. And my immediate reaction, more often than not, doesn’t help anyone –my kids, my husband nor myself. I tried a regular hatha yoga class, as well as an Ashtanga session to see if it would tame my temper but I was, quite literally, bored stiff.  After a particularly grueling turbo kick class and a freakout of epic proportions (mine), I decided to sweat out my aggravation in a hot yoga class. I’d see if I could take some of that energy home with me, bearing in mind the three key points to “Yoga Parenting”:

  1. Don’t forget to breathe.
  2. If things get too strenuous, take a break.
  3. Find your focus.

Breathing was the key to getting through a hot yoga class. Lying down in shavasana, or “corpse pose,” allowed the body to detach and relax in between postures. And, of course, focusing on one fixed point helps keep you balanced. I turned it into a bit of a mantra – breathe, break, balance. I figured if I repeat it enough while continue practicing my yoga postures, I’d be stronger and more flexible – in the studio and, more importantly, at home.

So when my three-year-old insisted on making his own breakfast at sunrise, instead of yelling over the early wake-up time and spilled milk, I breathed. Big, deep, breaths helped me appreciate his attempts at independence. And when a dinner-table argument escalated into a screaming match, I removed myself from the kitchen. When it resolved itself, I returned. Even in rush-hour traffic with all three going at each other in the back seat, I kept my eyes focused on the road ahead. And then I turned the radio up to full blast (just for a second,or two), scared them shitless and balance was restored.

It’s an ongoing practice…

(Photo: iStockphoto)