A mother and child walk in the park

Reflections on Yoga and Parenting

As some of you may know, this month we had our baby girl – Josephine. Her older brother Westie is only 17 months old…. So yes, we’re a busy bunch! We feel boundlessly lucky with our little family. With young children, comes new challenges, and new ways to practice our yoga. Here are a couple of the most important things I’ve practiced in my own parenthood journey… ways yoga has been instrumental, as we navigate the responsibilities and joys of bringing new life into the world:
Aparigraha is one of the “Yamas” or “yogic virtues”: the art of “non-grasping/clinging”, which is such an important concept in parenting (and in life). While I am super protective of providing our child with consistent messaging, I continue to practice letting-go of any kind of ego-based desire to be my child’s “favourite”, to need my child to “need me”, and to require any result based on egocentric expectations of who he/she “should” be. What I teach is consequences outside of my feelings. It is easy to mistake our own egocentric needs for unconditional love. Many of us play-out that concept in codependent relationships. In our practice, it is letting go of attachment to any outcome of our poses… (while also not forgetting to challenge our practice!). As a parent, an understanding of Aparigraha, is crucial, in maintaining a healthy long-term relationships as children grow up in an increasingly complex world.
Dharana is one of the 8 limbs of Yoga, meaning “Concentration”. I try and make a regular effort to notice the tiny shifts in my toddler’s moods, his attention and his motivations. It is something that can be lost when we are busy with our lives, always trying to get from Point A to point B, and we forget to slow-down and pay mind to the journey that is constantly unfolding before them. An example, is a simple walk in the forest… my plan would normally be to do my usual loop, to cover some ground and to get home by a certain time… my toddler sometimes just wants to look at rocks and bugs and sticks. I could rush him, in order to fit him into my agenda, or simply enjoy the fact that we will move 20 metres in an hour… and completely surrender to the wonder of the moment. With this attention, my child feels seen, heard and understood; he feels connected and therefore he learns that he matters. In our practice, this attention is noticing, learning and listening to the subtleties of what our body, mind & heart needs on any given day, whether it be tons of modifications, or an expressive power class. As we learn to attune our concentration, we learn of what we truly need, and we learn that WE matter.
As we approach late summer and head into fall…. Aparigraha and Dharana are two very powerful practices. We can get attached to the romanticism of the summer, only to slowly resent the approach of the fall. Why not allow that shift to be easeful and unencumbered? Why not allow that shift to feel meaningful and rich with all the in-between moments? In what ways can you focus in on those two concepts both on and off your mat this Month?
Have a fabulous August!
Much LOVE, Kim.