Wendy Hassenpflug, owner of Vayu Yoga®, shares tips on how yoga can give parents tools to be and feel more calm, centered, and confident.
By Wendy Hassenpflug, MS, E-RYT
Let’s face it, parenting is a challenging job, and probably one of the most important jobs you may ever have. It is also one of the most rewarding, in that we can learn so much from being a parent, every single day.
Parents can often feel depleted from all the demands of raising children. The time it takes to prepare meals, bath and dress everyone, clean the house, and taxi everyone to where they need to go, leaves very little time for much of anything else. It becomes hard to remember who you were before you were a parent, or even be in touch with who you are now.
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In addition to the physical demands of parenting there can also be psychological and emotional demands. The pressure to be a ‘perfect’ parent can be quite overwhelming. The desire to want our children to be the best, have the best, and do the best that they possibly can, may lead to anxiety, doubt, and fear as a parent. If we are allowing negative thoughts and emotions to dominate our parenting then we will create reactive outcomes.
The bottom line is that our children want us to model behaviors for them, they want to aspire to be like us, and are looking at us to show them how to live life more vibrantly and joyfully. When we, as parents, show a sense of integrity, and focus on our behavior and how we conduct ourselves, our children will follow suit.
Yoga means to ‘yoke’ or ‘unite’ and when a yoga practitioner learns to unite their mind and body in their yoga practice, it becomes easier to integrate the same practices as a parent. Yoga helps parents transform their parenting strategies from the inside out. It teaches us to incorporate the practices of mindful yoga and self-compassion, both on the mat and off. This all happens by focusing on the relationship with yourself first, building a foundation that aids in growth of an improved relationship with your child.
Yoga can give parents the tools to be and feel:
- More calm and centered
- More compassionate towards yourself and others
- More confident in your decisions as a parent
A yoga practice will teach you how to move and breathe together and more efficiently. This connection is vital to stress relief.
Yoga will teach you to observe your thoughts and feelings. By creating a deeper body awareness, you are becoming more mindful, present, and true to yourself. In this process, yoga will also teach you to come back to a present state of being.
Our mind can easily become lost in thoughts of the future or past, or caught up in overwhelming emotions. By learning to focus, concentrate and be more mindful, it is easier to accept difficult emotions, to separate intention from outcome, and to foster compassion in ourselves during difficult times. Yoga puts us at a place at the end of our practice to be able to think and communicate more clearly.
Here are some great ways to take your yoga practice off the mat and into your life:
- Maintain compassion (Ahimsa)
- Be kind and treat all things with care. Remember when your parents brought you out to dinner (back in the day) and they reminded you to “be good” or we would leave? We became aware of the effect that our behavior had on those around us. We learned to use ‘indoor’ voices, stay seated in our chair, with our bottom on the chair, and to politely wait for everyone at our table to finish eating before asking to leave. To practice compassion is to be constantly vigilant, and to observe ourselves in interaction with others.
- Practice truth (Satya)
- Parents look forward eagerly to their child’s first words, and before long they can’t wait for them to learn about ‘quiet time’. Our words have the potential to inspire, frighten, and enchant. Think about how it feels when someone speaks from satya (truth), those words resonate with us for quite some time. When we hear the truth, a part of us feel comfort and we feel at home from the inside out. This encourages us to act from that same place of virtue within ourselves.
- Practice moderation (Brahmarchya)
- One of the most precious and non-renewable resources is time – and we can often rob ourselves of it, and those around us. By learning to make the best of your own time, you will not only manage your time better, but you will teach your children to respect other people’s time as well. Show up ahead time when you make an appointment, give yourself extra time to travel, park, and find where you are going. Teach your children that time is a valuable resource and the more we respect our own precious time together with our family, the more important they will see that time to be.
- Live more selflessly (Aparigraha)
- It is easy nowadays to take or buy more than we truly need. Have you ever looked at all the toys that you are picking up day after day and asked yourself why do we have so many toys? Think about how it feels to give to someone that doesn’t have, whether it is clothes, food, or something as a simple as a smile. Take time a few times a year to purge your house of items that are no longer used and give them to someone that needs them or would use them. We teach our children to share at a very young age, but it is something that perhaps should be revisited on a consistent basis.
- Be self-reliant (Asteya)
When we become focused on, or overly attached to material objects, we create the opportunity for stress because objects can become lost. Instead of focusing on material things, we should focus our energy and our life on the things that cannot be lost.
The one most important ‘thing’ that cannot be lost, is our self. True happiness and fulfillment is experienced in our feelings, our thoughts, and our bodies – not in having or owning material objects. By teaching ourselves to be self-sufficient, setting the example for our children, and not depending on other things or people for our own happiness, we will live more vibrantly and completely.
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Yoga is an all-encompassing practice, it is an inner quest to find how to make ourselves whole. Yoga is meant to be practiced on and off the mat, by applying kindness, truthfulness, abundance, and self-reliance, we begin to ‘yoke’ or ‘unite’ our thoughts with our actions.
We are able to look at challenging situations with a more clear mind and communicate from our heart and soul. As a parent, it is important to continually revisit and evolve your parenting style and give yourself permission to connect to your children in an authentic way.
Vayu Yoga® provides a broad range of specialty instruction that pertain to training the body and mind via floor-based yoga, aerial yoga, YogaWall®, Pilates®, and other related stretching and therapeutic practices.
We offer a broad variety of styles of yoga, including traditional mat-based yoga and Pilates®, as well as specialty trainings like Vayu Yoga® Suspended and Yoga Wall. All of our trainings have a therapeutic focus, and safety is always our first concern and focus. Our experienced teachers provide personalized attention to our students through small group trainings (1-8 students).
Vayu Yoga® gives students the tools they need to perform a safe practice for their individual bodies, teaching them how to listen to their bodies, and create a strong awareness in their practice.
About Santa Clarita Vayu Yoga® Owner Wendy Hassenpflug
Wendy Hassenpflug is an E-RYT (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher), through Yoga Alliance, Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Pilates Teacher (Pilates Method Alliance), Certified Personal Trainer (National College of Exercise Professionals). She holds a Master of Science in Kinesiology and a Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science, and has over 26 years of experience as an educator in secondary and higher education.
Wendy teaches private, duet, and small group trainings at her studio Vayu Yoga®, located at 24353 Main Street Newhall, CA 91321. Visit http://www.vayuyoga.com for more information or to schedule an appointment or book a training.
Wendy hosts “Vibrant Living with Vayu Yoga®” on AM 1220 KHTS radio in Santa Clarita, CA, Tuesdays from 11:00am till Noon. Click here to listen to podcasts.
Source: Santa Clarita News