The Yoga of Parenting was the title of a recent workshop that Malachi Grieves, one of my main teachers, gave recently at YogaWorks Montana. I attended this workshop and it had a great impact on me as a new parent!
As a teacher and 15 + year yoga practitioner, I felt this worry and guilt prior to attending the workshop that I had not stepped foot in a yoga studio since the birth of my child 7 weeks prior. But my teacher Malachi’s words echoed in my ear that “the art of parenting IS now my Yoga practice.”
I want to be as present with my son as I can be, so he feels safe, nourished, loved and adored. I keep catching myself reaching for my iPhone while breastfeeding, or doing other things that seem important out of habit, when in actuality the most important subject is right in front of me.
This is a reflection of our lives in this society. We are multi-taskers. We take on too much. We want to get everything done so we can check it off the list. We want to finish things quickly and often times we miss the whole point. Aren’t we here to practice the art of connection, engagement and present moment awareness with each other?
In Malachi’s workshop we went through the Yamas, the ethical constructs that Patanjali lays out in the Yoga Sutras that we all seemingly live by as Yogis. We broke them down to understand if we are in fact following them as parents or better yet as people. As stated by Patanjali, these are Universal Vows to be practiced by individuals and as the collective. Navigating the Yamas is imperative as a parent. In fact, this is our daily practice, not just the asanas.
These are the Yamas – in thought, word and deed – are you practicing these in your life or as a parent?
- Ahimsa – Non-harming or Non-violence toward the Self or Others
- Satva – Truthfulness to oneself, speaking one’s truth or with others
- Asteya – Non Steailng (of time, present awareness, materials)
- Brahmacharya – Reserving one’s energy, not leaking one’s energy (with Facebook for example, or not taking care of oneself)
- Aparigraha – Non-greed or possessiveness
For example, if you are letting yourself go, not practicing self-care and becoming frustrated and angry because your child has too many needs then you are not practicing Ahimsa. If you were practicing Ahimsa, you would find balance between your needs with that of your child’s.
Why is this important? Our kids are a mirror to our consciousness. They are sponges that pick up everything we say, do and feel. Being a parent will give us the opportunity to really learn about ourselves and to examine our actions, motives, thoughts and actions more clearly. We need to be more presently aware and pay attention.
The good news is we can also turn to the Niyamas, our internal guideposts, for assistance and practice.
Through our practice of Kriya Yoga: Tapas (discipline), Svadhyaya (self-study and study of spiritual texts) and Ishvara Pranidhana (devotion or surrender to God or a higher power) we can become more present to our samskaras, or impressions on the mind. And we know now through neuroscience that we can create new neural pathways through these practices. We can become ever more conscious, connected and present as a person and a parent.
Know that getting into a studio is not the only practice of Yoga, although very important. Nailing that fancy pose is not the only Yoga. Being present is a gift that you can give another human being that far surpasses anything you can perform.
Thank you Malachi for your Yoga of Parenting workshop. I realize now that the Yoga Sutras is a wonderful teacher for parenting and the art of parenting is in fact my Yoga.
Nicole Doherty is a 500-RYT YogaWorks certified teacher, energy healer, life coach, nutritional wellness coach, singer and writer. Through the study of various healing arts and a disciplined yoga practice, Nicole spent most of her adult life on an extensive spiritual inquiry that empowered her to overcome multiple traumas in her life ultimately finding love, light and sustained joy. What she discovered on this path to wholeness fuels her passion to inspire others to heal and find their highest potential. Committed to embodying her truth in service, Nicole encourages others to do the same with her contagious laughter, endearing smile and lightness of being. To learn more, visit her website.