When I began teaching yoga, I knew that I wanted to eventually teach to two demographics: Pregnant and newly postpartum people and kids. As a parent and mother, I wanted to create a community with other individuals in the same season of life and gain wisdom from the people whose perspectives were different than my own (the teacher is the student, yes?). And so after graduating from my 200 hour course, I signed up for a training to teach kids.

What I didn’t realize was teaching kid’s yoga is an entirely different ball game! This particular training was entirely enlightening, for lack of better words. I had worked and/or been surrounded by kids for a number of years at that point and had tons of education, having studied child development; however, the information here was different. It wasn’t just information-it was a new lens and framework. I had the fabled rose-colored glasses.

From that point on, I incorporated everything I learned into my daily life. It was easier to take the yogic principles that I had previously learned about and apply them in a way that fit within my life and my family, as well as the classes where I get to interact with kids from all walks of life. Teaching yoga to kids, including my own, has given me so much joy and has helped me parent better.

  • Listening. First and foremost, I have learned to be patient and listen with an open ears and an open heart. Yoga helps kids feel secure as it is a safe place to be and so they tend to share their feelings, thoughts, disappointments, and achievements. Teaching them how to take a step back and examine their thought patterns and behaviors has also given me the ability to do the same with my own kids. It helps me to avoid becoming overly critical and/or dismissive.
  • Letting go. Teaching yoga, but especially kid’s yoga, has developed my ability to let things go that don’t really have a measurable positive effect and to discern those situations where I need to deal with unpleasantness for the overall benefit. Say, bath time, for instance. This practice discourages me from becoming too anxious and thus, spreading that anxiety and worry onto my kids. It helps us become aware of when the stress we feel spurs necessary action or if it unnecessarily raises our cortisol. Kids are the masters, in general, of pulling an Elsa, and letting it all go.
  • Limberness. If anything, teaching kids has made me super flexible-not just in my physical body but in my mentality. Rather than adhere to strict and arbitrary rules, I consider our family’s needs and children’s needs on a case-by-case basis. I have to be flexible and willing to instantaneously adjust plans because my students might be extra talkative or begging for a favorite activity. This pliancy has helped me parent my kids because I am more willing to change my mind when they present a compelling argument for getting that ice cream!

What I have learned is valuable and helpful, but it absolutely doesn’t give me infinite knowledge nor make me a sage. I am not a guru of all things parenting. It does, however, grant me some calm as I navigate being a mom.

Originally published at medium.com