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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Yoga and Parenting (By Anshu Basnyat, LCPC)

     Yoga is everywhere these days! When someone says “yoga,” images of various postures like the tree, downward dog, lotus, child poses pop up in our minds right? Well, according to an interview I had with two yoga instructors of SoilSound (, Valencia Wood and Joseph Murray, yoga is more than postures. Valencia and Joseph not only explained the history of yoga, but also how it can help in parenting!

     For more than 5,000 years, yoga has been practiced by many and currently, approximately 11 million Americans are enjoying its health benefits. Yoga started as a meditation practice and now in the Western world, it has become more posture-focused. Valencia and Joseph practice  Nāda yoga, which has its roots in India, and is based on the premise that all things that exist in the universe are interconnected and consists of sound vibrations, called nāda.  It essentially uses sound and vibrations, as in music, to engage in mindfulness as well as in various poses to reap the health benefits ranging from relaxation to weight and cholesterol control.

     Both Joseph and Valencia shared their personal stories of how yoga helped them in adjusting to life’s challenges. For Joseph, yoga played a major role in battling a malignant cancer of the kidneys called Wilms tumor, which involved him getting a grueling 7 months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.  Valencia turned to yoga when she lost her mother and sister in 2000 and 2008, respectively. The emotional difficulties of losing her loved ones impacted her negatively and with time came to realize “I’ve got to do something!” She stated that yoga not only helped her cope with her losses, but also gain perspective, tolerance, and patience with people who she would have previously considered to be “rude.” Today, both Joseph and Valencia are healthy people who radiate with positive energy! They are working hard to promote yoga in our daily lives, especially for folks living in urban areas where fast pace is the rule rather than the exception. When you are around these two, one cannot help but want to give them big hugs!

     After discussing the many health benefits, we also talked about how yoga can help in parenting. My favorite topic of course! Joseph has three teenage kids so he had lots to say! To sum it up, he feels yoga helps the parents in mindfulness, guides them when disciplining, promote patience and empathy in the parent.  This reminded of many instances when therapists teach calming techniques to children when they are angry. Children are often instructed to count to ten to help them calm down during an anger outburst. Therapy and yoga have many things in common and this is an example of how mindfulness can be utilized to get the child to focus on something else that reduces the stress or anger.  A simple, but very powerful strategy indeed!

     Of course, above all we know that our children learn from watching their parents so yoga will ultimately help the kids learn effective coping strategies when they witness their parents use it! In fact, for this reason alone I signed up my 7 year old son for a summer camp that included yoga taught by Valencia and Joseph. Later, we both signed up for their family yoga sessions along with another friend of mine with her son.  I really wanted my son to learn how to relax and be mindful rather than being constantly stimulated, which I know can create much stress later in life. Undoubtedly, this will be an interesting process for a 7 year old as well as rich learning experience! Namaste!

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