Yoga education

June 6, 2023 0 Comments

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I’ve been meditating for almost thirty years and practicing asana, a physical practice, for over twenty, and I can say without a doubt that the most fulfilling yoga I’ve ever done is parenting.

I have never been more stressed, challenged, or strong, and I have never felt more ecstatic or more connected than when I was raising my two sons. And I wrapped my legs behind my head every morning before coffee!

When we think of yoga, we often picture someone striking a quirky pose on the beach, but the physical practices are only a tiny part of this incredible tradition. Yoga is much more about how we live than what shapes we create with our bodies. It’s about unity and connection—and who do we want to be more connected to than our children? (Well, most days anyway).

I have witnessed how this ancient practice is changing the way people interact with and behave in the world. I have seen how kinder, more compassionate, calmer and more balanced parents can be who practice yoga.

And I also saw what incredible people yoga parents are; No matter how many spiritual texts we read, or how many hours we sit in meditation, or how many silent retreats we hold, we still yell at our children. We still cry when we’re down, and we still need help sometimes (okay, a lot of the time). I mean, even the Dalai Lama admits he gets angry, and he doesn’t have kids.

The truth is that we are all works in progress: “Absolutely Imperfect” as the saying goes. And raising children has been and always will be the most difficult personal work some of us have ever done.

Perhaps this is why so many spiritual paths lead to renunciation. It’s much harder to be mindful when your three-year-old is destroying your house and your newborn is screaming and crying in the other room.

But this is precisely why parenthood can be the ultimate spiritual experience. It is no accident that I wrote this book while learning to navigate the dynamics of raising a toddler and baby. We have the opportunity to learn more about ourselves when we interact with the world than when we sit quietly in a meditative state. As Hunter Clark-Fields, author of Raising Good People: A Smart Guide to Breaking the Reactive Parenting Cycle and Raising Kind, Confident Children, says, “Six months with a preschooler can be more effective than years alone on a mountaintop. ” Adding, “It can be a fast track to enlightenment.”

If we’re willing to slow down and take a closer look at things, parenthood can be a powerful lens for us to learn more about ourselves. Just as we sit on our yoga mats, it is a place in our lives where we can observe our tendencies and learn to change our behavior.

Everything you need to know is within you. Yoga won’t make you a great parent, because spoiler alert: you already are. Instead, yoga will help you rediscover the same unconditional love you feel for your children.

And when you come back to yourself, when you feel connected and whole, you can approach your family with a focused mind and whole heart.

This is yoga.

This is parenthood.

We get to know ourselves intimately on the yoga mat. It is like a laboratory where we can observe our tendencies and experiment with our reactions in a safe environment. One of the things we have to look at is how we react in an elevated state. This seems to especially occur in balance poses or fast flows.

The feeling of falling out of Vrikshasana (Tree Pose) is the same feeling we get when our child shows us a pose or we lose patience with them. Learning what our body does and feels when we are hyperactive can help us learn to calm it down more quickly.

Stand on the top edge of your mat in Tadasana. Take a moment to ground yourself and present. Remember that this is the blueprint for all other poses.

Lift the right knee and place the right foot on the inside of the left thigh above the knee or down near the ankle and calf.

You may need a wall for balance. If not, hold both hands slightly away from the body, fingertips pointing down. Reach your arms down to release tension in your upper back or neck.

Once you feel stable, start playing with your balance. If you are looking down, look forward or up. You can even try closing your eyes. You can also play with your arms above your head. Allow the rush of sensation to flow through you as you sway. See if you can stick with it, even if it means letting yourself fall.

Before repeating on the other side, spend a moment in Tadasana on the ground and return to center. Observe how long it takes for your heart rate to settle and for you to feel grounded again.

Adapted from Yoga education Sarah Ezrin © 2023. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, Colorado.

The cover of Sara Ezrin's book The Yoga of Nurturing.
(Photo: Shambhala Publications)

About our contributor

Sarah Ezrin is a writer, world-renowned yoga teacher, popular Instagram influencer, and mom based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her willingness to be unapologetically honest and vulnerable, along with her innate wisdom, make her writing, yoga, and social media a wonderful source of healing and inner peace for many. Sarah is changing the world by teaching self-love one person at a time. She is also the author of The Yoga of Education. You can follow her on Instagram at @sarahezrinyoga and TikTok at @sarahezrin.

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