Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Two (more) Ways Yoga Can Make You A Better Parent

A few weeks ago I was invited to write a guest blog about yoga and parenting. Read the full blog here.

Here is a continuation of my blog on yoga and parenting, with two (more) ways yoga can help us all be better parents:

Two More Ways that Yoga Makes You A Better Parent

1. Don’t underestimate the importance of your breathing habits.

I have seen many mothers whose previously calm demeanor and good breathing habits BC (Before Children) mysteriously vanished into thin air AC (After Children).

Why is this?

Today’s women have fought (hard) for their autonomy and independence. In addition, families are more mobile than ever. However, the deserving achievements of this modern movement (remember it hasn't even been 100 years since women could vote) has left women (and families) with a very flimsy infrastructure – which means we tend to have poor support systems. Most women, myself included, underestimate the importance of the statement “It Takes A Village to Raise A Child.”
Even someone like myself, who has a master’s degree from one of the top physical therapy schools in the United States and specializes in women’s health…was on the edge of sanity after going for weeks with little more than 2 hours of sleep a night with 2 children in diapers, a corporation to (still) run, and with no family in the area who could help.
The nugget of truth here is that women are busier than ever and oftentimes with less support than ever. When women enter or re-enter the workplace after childbirth, they keep 75% or more of household management duties, in addition to their new role as a mother. In addition, the American workplace has proven to be the one of the least "parent" friendly of all developed countries.
All of these stressors can easily lead to depression and poor parenting choices. Postpartum depression always lurks right around the corner – for all women – regardless of their socioeconomic status or education level.
However, good breathing habits have been proven to help battle depressive symptoms. Read my previous blog on improving mood, coping skills and preventing/managing depression with good breathing habits. Learning good breathing habits can ward off depression, improve quality of life, increase energy, and stabilize mood - which all leads to better parenting.

2. If you do not have a mediation practice, start today.

Meditation is called different things across the globe – Meditation, Devotion, Prayer, Quiet Time…the list goes on. However, anyone can practice meditation without conflicting with their spiritual roots. Read my previous blog on how Yoga must be recalibrated to fit the 21st century mother. This post will teach you how to practice a “savasana” (sha-vah-suhn) or corpse pose, which will help facilitate a meditation practice.

Tip: Create a Sacred Space.
I have friends from all different spiritual traditions - Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Jain, & Buddhist. They all have one thing (well way more than that) in common – they all have a meditation practice that honors their spiritual belief system. I encourage you to create a Sacred Space to help you meditate. It may be as simple as a converted closet or elaborate as an entire room with an altar or table holding your inspirational quotes, Sacred texts, readings, poetry, figures, as well as everything you need to meditate (which could be as simple as a cushion on the floor or elaborate as a cushioned chair, bed, or other props to help you be comfy).

This Space will not only remind you to mediate, but will make it easier for you to do so. It can also be your own personal chapel – a place to recollect yourself and remind yourself of what is most important to you. I go to my Sacred Space daily, if even for 5 minutes. I actually created 2 rooms and a third small space – because I need physical reminders to keep me accountable – and to help ground me and remind me of my ordered priorities.

These are the last 2 Tips in my Yoga and Better Parenting post. I hope you have been able to glean something of worth for your Journey of Parenting. Remember in the words of revered Afghan poet Rumi: In the end, we will be forgiven for forgetting that what we really want is Love's Confusing Joy. Gamble Everything For Love.

*Photo is of a "Mommy & Me Yoga" photo shoot (and one of his first official yoga practices) with my second son.

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