When I’m asked how yoga has impacted my parenting, I parse it down to one point, which every other type of work on myself has corroborated for the past 13 years. In every moment, I magnetize my own state. Translated: However I am behaving will be reflected in everyone around me, especially my kid. There are many simple examples of this popular topic. If you’re happy, people smile at you. If you don’t trust yourself, nobody trusts you. If you’re paying attention, people around you pay attention. Every day, whatever apocalypse is happening inside of you will be magnified again and again in the people near you, until you handle it. Whatever you’re feeling, see how it’s returned to you. When I’m paying attention, yoga offers spaciousness to my experience of parenting. Most of the day, I can feel it close by, but I can’t touch it. How ridiculous is it that here I am teaching specifically about spaciousness for more than 13 years and I cannot seem to get past my own animal instinct to doubt and rush and be perfect at the expense of my son’s stability and confidence? So this is what I want to share here. Parents, use your yoga to cultivate your own brand of spaciousness. What does it mean to be spacious (hold space in your own body) and how can we do this through yoga?
The other day, I had a discussion with a friend about the Handel process, a life-coaching program wherein we’ve both learned how to design consequences for our angry outbursts around our kids. While the yoga practice has opened so much for me, the Handel Group’s aim-oriented, personalized action plans were the missing piece. Both my friend and I came from families where rage was present, and coaching helps us define the behaviors, own them and evolve them. What we came to in the conversation was super simple. Your kid, at any moment, is just showing you your own face. That statement stings, and it should. Make more space in yourself and your kid will receive it and reflect it back to you. Paradoxically, this spaciousness is cumulative. When you cease doubting yourself and begin to hold that space for yourself, you are generating an indestructible quality of freedom within yourself that nobody can take from you.
“Asanas (postures) catapult us out of our habitual minds and into the vast space within” – Christina Sell, the upcoming “My Body Is a Temple.”
You’re practicing to prepare yourself for the unexpected, so that no matter what happens, you’re still the one who’s able to stand still and quietly, confidently, hold that space for yourself and for anyone nearby. You’ll catch glimpses of what it feels like to hold that space for your child, and those glimpses will become vantage points, places within yourself where you can stand and offer stability in your family, no matter what the context. As Vimala McClure describes in her book, The Tao of Motherhood, “You can manage your children with strength. Mastering your own life requires true power.” Parenting is no exception. As a parent, we magnetize nothing but our own behavior in that of our kids. If I point my finger and yell, at his next play date my 4-year-old son points his finger and screams at another child when he’s frustrated. He would never know how to do that without my example, and he’ll never know how to be masterful without my example either. And when I manage to listen attentively and sit with him so he can comfortably invite me into his mind and his realm, I get attention, kisses, hugs and hilarity returned to me. So in every moment as a parent, we magnetize our own behavior in our kids. You get it. How does yoga help? In the poses, I want to respond to my body’s resistance with patience (the spaciousness I personally need) rather than reacting with self-doubt. This allows me to be more patient with myself, and learn how to hold that patience for my kid rather than worrying about what else I could or should be doing. I then want to teach that process of holding space, which is really just a matter of learning to be expansive and more kind with myself, so the folks I’m teaching will be drawn to do that for themselves and their families.