What My Yoga Instructor Taught Me About Parenting

Photo by KarinaUvarova/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by KarinaUvarova/iStock / Getty Images


What I want to talk about today is yoga. And parenting, of course. I took a yoga class the day before a recent snowstorm. I knew I needed to ground myself, connect, and I knew it would feel really good to spend some time working on me for an hour before I had to walk into a day of a snowstorm with the girls. So, I did yoga. And my instructor is amazing. She talked about the breath, and how important the breath is, and slowing us down and finding ways to connect and reconnect, and create space, which is so much of what I talk about.  


The other thing she mentioned was a situation that she had. She had gone out in the city the night before and left her car at the train station. The next morning, she didn’t realize she had left her car there. She got up in a hurry to take the kids to school and she realized when she opened the garage, “Oh my goodness, the car isn’t here.” It took her a minute to figure out, OK, where is my car? Am I going to freak out? Am I freaking out a lot? Am I freaking out a little bit? And what are my next steps?


Reconnecting Through Breath

She quickly realized, OK, I left my car at the train, I forgot it, and she called an Uber, and was able to send her kids off to school. In that discussion, she talked about how yoga and breathing played such a role in her reaction to the situation.  I also talk about how breathing plays such an important role in parenting. She said that if she had not been such a regular practitioner of yoga, and focusing on the breath, that she would have freaked out much more in regards to her car “missing” from her garage. Instead, she freaked out a little bit. She jokingly said, “Oh, I only used three curse words instead of five,” and “I really would have freaked out had I not been able to reconnect with the breath and slow down and realize what happened.”


That’s true for parenting, too. It’s so important to reconnect with the breath. Because we will get frustrated. We will get triggered by our children and by situations that we’re in with our children. But maybe we won’t freak out as much with our children if we are able to develop a routine practice of taking a pause and some breaths upon entering situations.


How Tight Is Too Tight?

She also talked about our yoga strap. We were doing an exercise where we had to hold the strap behind our head, and she said, “Make sure you’re holding the strap loosely. I see you guys are holding it tightly. Hold it loosely. Make sure you’re holding it, but don’t make a strong grip around it.”


And then she said, “I can tell by the way you’re holding your strap—how tightly you’re holding that strap—how much you would freak out if the car situation happened to you. Let go a little bit.”


So, it was in what she was saying, that I started, again, thinking about parenting, and I was thinking, the strap is kind of like our children, right? We want to hold so tightly. We want to control it. We think if we hold it tightly, we’re doing the right thing. But what we really need to do is just let go a little bit. The more we try to control and hold on tightly, the more we will be upset, the more we will freak out, when things don’t go our way. If we can create a gentle hold with our children, hold lightly, be there for support, but not to entangle them, we allow for freedom of expression. We allow for freedom of emotion. We allow for freedom of changes and mishaps and mistakes and all of that. But if we try to hold on too tightly, we are taking too much control into trying to manipulate the situation and manipulate our children, instead of holding loosely and trusting, the strap will be there. We’re still holding on. We just have to let go a little.


I just wanted to share that with you, and maybe think about how tightly you are holding onto that strap, or how tightly you are holding onto your children.