1. Keep your eyes on your own mat. The guy on your right can bend his legs into lotus while in a handstand. The woman on your left can’t touch her toes. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else in yoga class, the baby playgroup or at school pick-up. Work hard on what you are working without focusing on anyone else. We are all so self-absorbed in whatever it is that we’re insecure about, but really, no one else gives a shit.
2. Switch it up and don’t get stuck. Power yoga, vinyasa, jivamukti, restorative, yin, ashtanga, bikram… There are so many choices and once we find one that works for us, we stick to it. Same with parenting. We all have our own innate parenting styles, but what works now might not feel productive in a few years. Just as switching to a new yoga class propels you forward, as your kids grow your parenting will likely need to transition as well.
3. Look to others for inspiration. There is a woman in my class whom I watch with complete awe. She moves with the agility of a cat, shows fierce bravery trying something new, laughs when she falls on her head (which is rare) and her body bends like a rubber band. I know that what she does comes from years of dedication and rather than feel like a pathetic sad sack next to her, I relish watching her practice. Friends, strangers, fellow parents at school all display their parenting for the world to see. See something that makes you take notice? Good, take the inspiration and go with it. We don’t all need to be Martha Stewart and it doesn’t all need to come from scratch.
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4. There are teachers to assist and child’s pose when you need it. In class, teachers lend a gentle hand on the back to help you fold forward or offer balance as you try an inversion. If you need an extra hand, call a friend, grandparent, sister, or a mom of a boy your son’s baseball team. If no help is coming your way, then as in Yoga class, there is child’s pose, which is always there when you need to take a break. There’s no shame in taking advantage of parenting’s version of child’s pose, too; Make breakfast for dinner, skip bath time, put on the TV, etc.
5. Everyday will be different. Monday it all works; my body feels good and my mind is clear. Tuesday, I’m tight, and can’t get my mundane to do list off my mind and no amount of OM is going to help. Poses are tough and I fall on my head. Then I fall on my side. It’s a total shit show. We all have those days were everyone goes to bed happy and calm so we pat ourselves on the back for being a rock star mom. The next morning, we’re all miserable, nothing goes as planned and it’s the type of day you swear it’s dinner time and want to shoot yourself when you realize its only 11AM. Because every day is different. You can’t let your ego get too inflated on a great day and or take a horrible day too much to heart.
6. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. No one has it all (though one specific yoga teacher does come to mind). Some have strength, others flexibility and some balance. Be honest about your strengths and work those areas that are more challenging, don’t take the easy way out. On my mat, and in the rest of my life, I have strength but not balance. Poses that require strength feel good because I am secure. Less comfortable are those poses that require balance; anything on one foot is an open door to ego and insecurity. We all know, where we fall short with our kids. Next time instead of calling for the other parent or giving up hastily, give it a try. What’s the worst that can happen? Your kids might see you aren’t perfect. Good, because neither are they.
7. To wobble is human. One of my teachers often says “to wobble is human.” It makes me feel better as I work on my balance and fall over. It feels better to try and laugh it off than not try at all. And there isn’t a bigger must-have in parenting than the ability to laugh at yourself.
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8. Practice practice practice. We all have that one teacher; she can do every pose with ease and then invert them all without breaking a sweat. All of that has been achieved through hard work and practice. And more practice, and then some more. I’ve had relatives or friends comment on how “easy” my kids are. Um, ok. They are “easy” because they have been trained, by me, every day of their short lives. They didn’t come out knowing how to behave in a restaurant or just decide to clean up toys. I have worked with them repeatedly, annoyingly, endlessly. The handstand your teacher makes look like a piece of cake, the kids nicely playing coloring at the table next to you, all come from practice.
9. Savasana. Yoga class ends with savasana (corpse pose). It is a pose of total relaxation, making it one of the most challenging asanas. At the end of the day relax. You’ve done your best, or maybe not. Regardless, its been lived so allow yourself savasana. Tomorrow will come soon enough.
10. Have some Fucking Grace, Or At Least Try. This is one of the hardest lessons I have learned and I often fall short. When you are in class and you struggling to hold a pose, do as my teacher says and “smile, try to have grace on your face.” This goes for life, and most definitely parenting. Fake it ’til you make it.