This isn't a blog about how to parent or how to successfully raise competent, conscious young adults. I'm still working all of that out. Whether we're adjusting to life as a new mother with a small baby, or navigating our way through the toddler years, or reaching the stage that I'm at (12 yr old 'baby' boy, two teenage girls and a 19 yr old boyfriend) - it's essentially much the same.
It's a wild ride into the unknown with important decision-making at pivotal points being crucial to their safety, health and development (both physical and mental). What I do know for sure, is that Yoga has given me the tools to stay grounded - and sane on my journey as I guide them to their own independence and freedom.
I have just had 3 weeks of parenting these four kids solo whilst my husband has been overseas with his family celebrating the life of his father, who passed away recently. My dear husband is not only father of our tribe, but also an incredible support to me in running my business. He holds everything together whilst I teach classes, workshops and courses; dash out to attend births, sometimes leaving him and the kids for a day or two if births are long. He cooks, cleans and shops. He is the taxi service, meal planner and driving instructor. He works, studies and keeps his shit together. Most of the time.
So needless to say without him present, it’s been a challenging time for me. Think juggling 50 million things all at once - throw in school holidays, a camping trip, daily soccer training, a bush fire, malfunctioning fridge and moving into new business premises.
Getting on my yoga mat and finding time for myself hasn't been a daily occurrence in his absence - but I have taken all that I've learnt and brought my practice totally off the mat and into this crazy life that, at some points, I thought would never stop spinning.
When I think I have the parenting thing sussed, it all comes crumbling down and I have to start all over again - much like the physical poses we try and nail during our time on the yoga mat. What we do in class when we fall out of a tricky pose, is take a few breaths, compose ourselves, get back up again, and give it another go. We do this without judgement, knowing each day is different - some days we get it right and others we don't and that's OK. We know that when we soften and smile we feel better and it helps to bring a bit of compassion back to ourselves. Compassion to ourselves is the foundation for any compassion towards others, and is from where we must operate as parents.
What we learn in a yoga class goes way beyond the physical. When the feelings of being rushed and getting impatient with the kids start to rise, I am automatically drawn back to the habits I have cultivated through my physical practice - in this instance that of completing the simplest of tasks - completing my inhale and completing my exhale. Whether on or off the mat, it is like having my own personal support team, ensuring that I slow down and calm down. A simple tip - and one that works every time for me.
The shapes that we make with our body on our yoga mat are really just the start of the journey. When challenged with meals to prepare, the mountainous laundry pile and refereeing hormonal teenagers, how grateful am I to know that I can create a refuge from all of these demands and expectations by pausing, standing tall, delving within and surrendering to a tiny moment of stillness, just as I do when in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Dynamic Stillness has never felt so good.
I taught a Restorative Yoga class yesterday for busy and depleted mums; their kids are still young but the teachings are just the same for them as they are for me. We sighed and softened our face. We sighed and softened our foreheads, our throats, our tongues, our jaws and our eyes.
Our face and our breath reflect what is happening inside us; like a mirror. Much of our tensing, holding and gripping are habits that go unnoticed - until we practice body awareness through yoga.
Try this one simple exercise the next time you're feeling rushed, impatient or your world feels as though it just won't stop spinning.
Relax the skin of your forehead, drop it down instead of the surprised eyebrow lift. This will gently relax the frontalis muscle which covers parts of your skull. It's a biofeedback muscle which tells the brain to relax.
Smile, complete your inhale and exhale, be gentle on yourself - and buckle up for the ride.
“I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories from your life - not someone else’s life - water them with your blood and tears and your laughter til they bloom, til you yourself burst into bloom. That is the work. The only work.”
Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Author: WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES
Joymamma provides nurturing, soulful support to women on their journey through pregnancy, birth and motherhood. Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
🌸 Yoga 🌸
🌸 Meditation 🌸
🌸 HypnoBirthing 🌸
🌸 Doula 🌸