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August 19, 2016

The relentlessness of parenting may make it challenging to maintain a robust yoga practice, but it gives you a unique opportunity to hone the first two limbs of yoga: the yamas (hindrances) and niyamas (observances). Below are some affirmations to inspire you to cultivate the yamas and niyamas in your life as a parent.

I encourage you to consider how each of the yamas and niyamas are manifesting in your life and add your own affirmations that pertain specifically to you and your family. Sometimes we stray from these ideals, but by continuing to set intentions and practice tapas (self-discipline), we slowly converge on becoming the parent, yogi, and human being we want to be.

Yamas: Commitments to Your Child

Ahimsa: nonviolence

I know I am the yardstick by which you will measure your interactions with others. I touch you and speak to you only in love. The discipline I enact is a practice that builds you up, not one that tears you down. I honor your boundaries as much I can do safely, and I advocate for you when others disrespect them.

Satya: truthfulness

You can trust me; when I tell you I will do something I follow through. I am as honest with you as possible. When you are too young to understand, I reveal what is developmentally appropriate as you age. I open the door for you to have an authentic relationship with me, by having the courage to be my true self around you.

Asteya: non-stealing

I do not block you from life experiences in order to feed my own sense of security, success, and control. I am here for guidance and support, but I give you the freedom to build grit, resilience, and independence traits which can only be acquired by having the chance to be responsible for your own failures and successes.

Brahmacharya: non-excess

I strive to find The Middle Way of parenting where you will not be hardened by too much discipline nor spoilt by too much lenience. I model moderation in my own choices so that you have an example to follow.

Aparigraha: non-possessiveness

You are not an object; I do not own you. I do not project my hopes, dreams, and goals onto you. You do not owe me anything. You are at liberty to live your own life. While I may not enable nor endorse some behaviors, I will always love you and wish you freedom and joy.

Niyamas: Commitments to Yourself

Saucha: purity

The more I take care of myself, the better equipped I am to care for others. I cultivate, nurture, and purify my energy. Whether it’s finding time for a shower to release physical impurities, processing with a friend about a challenging event to release emotional impurities, or setting aside some alone time to reconnect with my partner to release social impurities, I recognizes energetic blocks in my life and commit to clearing them.

Santosha: contentment

I savor the rich experience of parenting. I embrace the moments of joy, pride, and closeness with my children without feeling entitled to them. I cherish your curiosity, innocence, and laughter. I also breathe into moments of sadness, anger, and loss. I understand that contentment doesn’t mean I never feel these things; it simply means I do not resist them. When negative emotions become too heavy and invoke suffering I reach out for support.

Tapas: self-discipline

I am a role model for my children, and this motivates me to be the person I want them to grow up to be. My determination is as much for my benefit as it is for theirs. My goal is not perfection; is it to be purposeful, joyful, healthy, and kind.

Svadhyaya: self-study

I take breaks from caring for others to engage in spiritual practice. Parenting is intense spiritual education, and I know I integrate the life lessons best when I step back on reflect on them. I take this new perspective back to my day-to-day activities to inform my parenting.

Ishvara Pranidhana: surrender

I find contentment in the adventure of not knowing. I observe feelings of uncertainty, insecurity, and anxiety around parenting without getting consumed up by them. I let go of the need for control and perfection. I trust the universe.

Once we have mastered these ethical principles within our families, the ultimate goal is that we extend them outward, not only to friends and acquaintances, but to all beings.  Our children are wonderful gurus.

Written by Barbie Levasseur ,
Bay Area writer, yoga teacher, and mom.

Photo Credit: Emily Hills

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