October 2017 By Saraswathi Vasudevan Saraswathi Vasudevan talks about the value of yoga in becoming a better parent “My daughter is very distracted,” “my son gets very angry and aggressive,” “can yoga help?” I have found most parents seeking help for their children and doing anything to get them enrolled in a yoga class or any similar activity. What about you, parents? Do you (especially mothers) take some time to think about yourself? Your own needs, your state of health and mind? Also, today we seem to be confronted with a variety of problems and issues related to children, requiring special attention and intervention. Blame it on food, lifestyle or just the way it is, parenting is no more as effortless as it seemed when we were growing up. Instead of constantly seeing what course you can enroll your child in, consider what you can do for yourself to deal with the frustrations and anxieties related to parenting. I would say it is absolutely important for parents to practice yoga; even more than the children. That is the best way to motivate children to develop strong personal practices to foster a healthy lifestyle. Please make some time for yourself in the process of taking care of your children and the larger family. I know some of my students who are homemakers even feel guilty about taking time off for themselves. The highly conditioned Indian homemaker! Why do parents need yoga? To bring more conscious awareness to your own health and wellbeing which in turn helps you take care of others. To deal with the daily stressors and frustrations of life in a calm and consistent manner, so that you can react less and respond better to the demands on your time, energy and resources. To model to children a better way of living that is conscious and responsible. They would rather do what you do than do what you say! To be a better parent who can understand the needs of the children and support their growth and learning through different phases in life. Above all, the children will grow up and one day move out to find their calling. Do you want to be left behind exhausted, frustrated and sick? Staying healthy and fit, happy and peaceful is our birthright. How does yoga address these needs? By regular practice of asana and pranayama, not only do you achieve a healthy body but also a calm, clear and steady mind that can perceive with clarity, make appropriate decisions and act with conviction, which is consistent with the roles and responsibilities you hold. Regular practice of yoga helps you clear the daily clutter that you gather into your system. Even though the mind gathers it, the body becomes the repository and if left to fester, can sooner or later lead to a plethora of health issues. A regular practitioner will most effortlessly be able to weave in healthy lifestyle habits like eating appropriately, sleeping on time, choosing healthy leisure activity, and quality interactions that create the most conducive environment for children to grow up in. With regular practice of yoga that integrates body, breath and the mind, you can make healthy choices for yourself and your children. You can stand as powerful role models for your children whom they can look up to and learn from. Also, it is important to understand that whatever unresolved mental or emotional issues we have accumulated, in some way gets transferred to the offspring, directly or indirectly, as patterns of action/reaction. Parenting can become the most powerful spiritual process through the practice of yoga. You do see, it can offer you much more than just physical health or fitness. Saraswathi Vasudevan is a yoga therapist trainer in the tradition of Sri T Krishnamacharya. She specialises in adapting yoga to the individual. (www.yogavahini.com).
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