Ten Ways Yoga Made Me a Better Dad
In looking at the title of this article I realize that it sounds a little arrogant. I’m not really sure if I've been a better Dad to my children. Like most people I've reflected back on my own childhood and have thought of some things I wished my Dad did differently. I sometimes wonder now when my own kids reach adulthood what will they think of the job I did as a father. So I’m not really sure I've been a better Dad. I do know that I always wanted to be a better dad. I also know that my yoga practice has affected my approach to fatherhood and here is how I think that it hopefully made me a better Dad.
10. Yoga helped me have a calmer approach to fatherhood. It goes without saying that raising kids is stressful; so whether it was saying a quite
chant to myself or just remembering to breathe deeply, yoga helped with the
stress. I don’t think success or failure
in fatherhood is determined by whether or not you felt stress but how you
reacted to the stress. When you yell at
a child, they never forget it. I wasn't
always perfect and I did sometimes raise my voice but hopefully my kids
remember me as someone who stopped to take a breath and didn't let the little
aggravations get to him.
9. Yoga taught me humility so I could say “I’m sorry”. As I said, sometimes I raised my voice when I shouldn't have. I made all sorts of mistakes along the way. Yoga helped me deal with my ego so I didn't always feel the pressure to be the perfect Dad and I didn't beat myself up when I made mistakes. I hope my kids remember me as a Dad that could admit when I made a mistake and even though I didn't have to, I wasn't afraid to ask my kids for forgiveness.
8. Yoga has helped me live a healthier life. Life takes a physical toll on the body. Kids have lots of energy and they are always ready to play whether you are or not. Yoga helped maintain my health as I have aged. Specifically it made me stronger while also increasing my flexibility. A healthy strong back definitely helps in raising kids. Hopefully my kids remember me as a Dad who was active and was always ready to play.
7. Yoga taught me that life does not conform to my ideals. Through my yoga practice I learned to let go of preconceived notions of myself and what I thought I should be able to do and I learned to embrace what I could do. As a father I think we all have preconceived notions of how we hope and think our kids will turn out. I always try to remember to practice acceptance while teaching and encouraging my kids without trying to force my ideals on them. Hopefully my kids remember me as a Dad who gave them the space to be who they wanted to be.
6. Yoga taught me not to pass judgment. In giving my kids the space to be who they wanted to be, sometimes they embraced things I didn't entirely understand. My yoga practice helped teach me that different approaches work for different people. Just because I really love a style of yoga or particular poses within a style doesn't mean that somebody else is going to feel the same way. I hope my kids remember me as someone who encouraged them in whatever they were interested in.
5. Yoga helped me balance my life. Through out fatherhood there are a million different directions that I feel like I am pulled. Between work, marital relations, housework, taking care of kids and attending yoga classes: maintaining balance is crucial. In my yoga classes when I would perform a balancing pose, l learned to keep my drishti constant. If the eyes wandered and I didn't maintain focus odds are I would loose balance soon. Fatherhood is no different from this. When I was with my kids, I focused on my kids and when I was with my wife, I focused on my wife. I hope that my kids remember me as someone who paid attention to them when I was with them.
4. Yoga taught me patience. No doubt about it, kids will try you. This really goes hand-in-hand with maintaining my calm but it is a little bit different. When I started my yoga practice there was a long list of things I couldn't do. Gradually through the years I've improved, and the thing that helped me the most was being patient with my own progress. The greatest lesson I was taught was that while something is not accessible today does not mean it is not accessible tomorrow. Sometimes my kids easily understood what I was trying to teach them and sometimes they did not. Fatherhood was a learning experience for me in how to teach my kids. Hopefully my kids remember me as a patient teacher.
3. Yoga taught me not to be afraid to fall. Part of learning is falling and part of teaching and raising children is letting them fall. Yoga helped me accept that in order to learn a pose sometimes I was going to fall. However, with each fall I would learn more each time until I no longer fell. As a father, letting my kids sometimes fall was the hardest thing to do. I hope my kids understand that I protected them as much as I could and I never wanted them to get hurt but I also wanted them to learn to fly.
2. Yoga helped me love women without objectifying. Yoga helped teach me respect for my body and what it could do. Along that path I learned to view and respect my fellow female yogi’s bodies for what they could do and not just how they looked. I haven’t mentioned it until now, but my kids are both boys. Hopefully my kids remember me as a good role model for how to relate to and treat women.
1. Yoga made it okay to love. In my personal experience of being raised, showing emotions and vulnerabilities was not encouraged. Throughout adulthood, this translated into being guarded with my expressions of feeling. Yoga provided an atmosphere that exposed me to people who exuded kindness, caring and compassion. Through my time with these people I've learned that I don’t have to be guarded and I can give and receive a hug from a fellow yogi. Kids need a father who is strong but is also kind, caring and loving. Hopefully more than anything, I hope my kids remember me as a Dad who was not afraid to express his love for them and receive love from them.
I don’t have any fatherhood secrets and I certainly don’t think I’m an expert on fatherhood, but I do think yoga helped me be a better Dad. For anybody that asks me how to be a better Dad I tell them to find a yoga class, get off the couch and get onto your mat.