Lady Of The Manor: Does ‘Yoga Parenting’ Really Work?
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 thatâ€™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 couldnâ€™t deal with for 60 minutes, let alone on a day-to-day basis with children. Since my boys were born, Iâ€™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 didnâ€™t yell! They were super small and most of their actions were impulsive. Sure, they had teary meltdowns or tired tantrums, but theyâ€™d run their course and itâ€™d be over.
Now itâ€™s a different story. Itâ€™s a short road from crankiness to nastiness, turning from sweet to sour in an instant. And my immediate reaction, more often than not, doesnâ€™t help anyone â€“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. Â 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. Iâ€™d see if I could take some of that energy home with me, bearing in mind the three key points to â€œYoga Parentingâ€:
- Donâ€™t forget to breathe.
- If things get too strenuous, take a break.
- Find your focus.
Breathing was the key to getting through a hot yoga class. Lying down in shavasana, or â€œcorpse 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 â€“ breathe, break, balance. I figured if I repeat it enough while continue practicing my yoga postures, Iâ€™d be stronger and more flexible â€“ 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.
Itâ€™s an ongoing practice…