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Yoga Teachers as a Model for Parenting

November 5, 2009

I’ve had the idea for this article swirling in my head for a while now, but lately the universe seems to be sending me messages to write it now.  Last week I received my latest issue of the APA Monitor on Psychology which featured an article on yoga as a practice tool in psychology.  And then I ran into (at the liquor store of all places!) my earliest and best (so far anyway) yoga teacher.  So now is the time for me to put these thoughts into words.

I’ve been doing yoga for almost 12 years now.  I’ve loved it from the start.  Yoga has been the first form of exercise that I have truly enjoyed, look forward to, and actively make time for in my schedule.  For the past several years I have been going to yoga classes at my local gym, largely because of convenience and cost factors.  It’s been good enough, and I’ve had many, many rewarding classes there.  Lately though I’ve been yearning for the environment of a yoga studio and have been on a search.

I’ve never counted them all up, but I guess I’ve been to hundreds of yoga classes with well over 20 different teachers in the past 12 years. I’ve always been able to take away something positive from every class and teacher (except 1), but some have been better than others.  As I’ve been in the mindset of searching for an enriching yoga environment for my practice, I’ve been reflecting on what I have appreciated and admired most about some of my best teachers.

For me, good yoga teachers have an awareness and understanding of their students.  They accept their students strengths and weaknesses, offer support when needed, and suggest modifications of poses based on their students’ limitations.  They also challenge their students to reach a higher level, but at their own pace and with support.  The yoga teacher whom I ran into at the liquor store last week had an amazing, almost supernatural ability of placing a gentle hand on my back or some other part of my body which would cause me to completely readjust and melt more fully into a pose.  She had a gift for observing and seeing where individual adjustments could me made.  The best yoga teachers also seem to have an aura about them.  They are some of the most peaceful and self-aware people that I have met.  They also seem to have an eye on the “big picture” of life.

My definition of a good yoga teacher shares much in common with my definition of optimal parenting.  Parents who are able to tune into their children, recognize and accept strengths and weaknesses, and provide support and guidance are likely to raise children who feel well-loved and self-confident.  Parents who have an awareness of themselves are better able to attune to their children.

I was fortunate to have a teacher early on in my yoga practice who was able to provide me that attunement, guidance, and support ~ plus a lot of fun.  She set me on a path for including yoga in my life for many years to come.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that as parents, too?  Giving our children the gifts of being understood, accepted, and supported from their earliest years sets them up for success for many years to come.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Cindy permalink
    November 9, 2009 8:25 am

    Thanks for this post. It hits home today. Not only as a parent, but as a parent who is looking for a “good” match in a dance teacher/program for my child. You eloquently expressed my thoughts and feelings!


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