How Yoga makes me a better parent:
Learning How to Fall Down
By Elena Savage
It’s 7 a.m., and my tween age daughter is hurling invectives at me: she does not have enough clothes, I never listen to her, life sucks. My son suddenly appears to tell me that, by the way, he dropped his phone in the toilet about an hour ago and, after drying it with a towel and then plugging it in to his computer, it no longer works.
We all have to leave for our individual schools within the next ten minutes.
I feel like I am juggling balls while riding a unicycle atop a tightrope tied across Snoqualmie Falls.
But I breathe in deeply, counting to seven, and exhale to the same count. I imagine myself holding bakasana, crow pose. If I can hold that pose, I can get myself across this momentary tightrope, no problem.
I was born with a temper. Until recently, I’ve pushed my way through this world on a wave of anger and impatience. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t know any other way to be. I would imagine myself a calm, sharply dressed woman who passed out life preservers with a smile even while the boat was sinking.
A whirling dervish of quick-boiling lava was more like it.
Then I started practicing yoga.
Initially, the main point was to find peace with a divorce that was not my idea. Peace on that subject is a work in progress.
What I have discovered is a deep well of patience I never knew was there.
Now, instead of flaring into anger when life goes sideways, a wide, bright field of bluebonnets blooms in my chest. I breathe, and there is no need for anger: life goes sideways sometimes. It’s OK.
Instead of impatience tightening my stomach, I stand back, watch life unfold. Sitting on the 520 at a traffic standstill, my kids and I have had some of the most hilarious conversations. Cases of Sucky Days do not end with slamming car doors to start the day. I hold back the words that want to rush out and just listen.
If my old friend Impatience rears its head, I put it to work imagining holding a handstand. That keeps it busy.
This day, I smile at my son and pat his back, assure him we’ll get a new phone if we have to later that afternoon. I find my daughter’s favorite jeans at the bottom of her hamper, and, despite wanting to stuff her in said hamper, give her hug. Then I cut up her French Toast as if she were still five, which is really what she wants to be again, deep down inside, anyway.
Don’t we all want to be taken care of sometimes?
In the last year and a half I’ve committed to practicing yoga regularly, I’ve done 108 Sun Salutations in one morning. I’ve taken Pranayama classes and spent an hour retooling my breathing. I’ve watched my bad arthritic ankle go from gimpy to almost-normal. I’ve fallen out of tolasana, back bends, and Warrior 3.
And I’ve stopped screeching at my kids when life goes sideways. Because, the first thing you learn in yoga is, life goes sideways. And that’s OK.