10 Reasons Ashtanga Yoga is the Perfect Practice for Parents

I began practicing Ashtanga Yoga at the tender age of 24. I instantly fell in love with this practice that is equal parts intense workout and deep meditation. As my own teacher describes, it felt like “coming home to my soul.” Over the years, my practice has seen every fluctuation imaginable, through times of strength and weakness, through three pregnancies, through a couple of injuries, through times of high motivation, through times of no motivation and rock bottom. My physical capabilities have waxed and waned over those years. But the one thing that has remained constant is my ability to rely on this presence in my life, to retreat to my practice to process the many ups and downs of my body/mind. Whether I feel uplifted or crushed, I can step to the top of my mat, raise my arms in that first sun salutation, take in that first deep breath and come home to my soul. When I feel strong, my practice helps me build on my capabilities. When I feel weak, my practice holds me like a loving embrace. When I feel scared, my practice helps me to remember my power and move beyond fear. When I feel confident, my practice helps me embody my limitlessness.

Today, with my children out of the intensely demanding baby/toddler stage, I am enjoying a renewal as practice feels more consistent and stronger than ever. But the more important change over these years is the realization that this very physical practice – it’s not about the physical! The postures are simply a gateway into the realm of your highest self. The postures call you to connect to your source, to your infinite potential, to yourself as time transcendent presence. The real work is to get to know your mind, the way you approach challenges and failures, how you judge and tell stories and get stuck in the small self and to grow beyond the limitations of the conditioned mind. The asanas are kinetic keys that open you up to the limitlessness within and connect you to your infinite self. At a time of life when so much of your time and energy is devoted to others, to spend time each day nurturing your self is priceless.

Here are 10 reasons why Ashtanga Yoga is an ideal practice for parents.

  1. The practice encourages a daily commitment to self-care, however small or large. As parents, we often put our own well being last on the list. But you can’t give from an empty cup. A consistent commitment to practice fills that cup regularly so you have more to give freely and joyfully.

  2. The practice can be expanded or contracted to fit the amount of time you have on any given day. Do 10 minutes or two hours.

  3. The practice cultivates a steady physical and mental strength – qualities you certainly need for the rigors of parenting.

  4. The practice is centered on cultivating a powerful, conscious breath, a tool that helps one develop patience, presence and calm abiding in stressful situations.

  5. Primary Series – the first sequence you learn – is focused on the abdomen, cultivating digestive fire, or “agni” to promote optimum health, eliminating the “bad fat around the waist” as it says in Yoga Mala, strengthening core muscles, and cultivating your hara – a deeply powerful physical and energetic center.

  6. The structure of Ashtanga gives you a road map, a direction, that enables home practice and encourages you to take personal responsibility for your experience.

  7. Mysore style Ashtanga (as we teach at The Womb Room) creates the space for individualized learning. It is not a one sized fits all yoga “class”, but a true partnership between teacher and practitioner that supports you, wherever you are, throughout the changing circumstances of your body and your life.

  8. A deep sense of community exists between people who share a love for this practice. Those who practice together become extended family, supporting and uplifting one another through the trials of practice and life.

  9. The practice is a method of connecting to source to recharge – it is rejuvenating and invigorating –  clearing you of your physical and mental burdens and filling you with the vitality and energy that animates all of life.

  10. The practice is an inner sanctuary –  giving you time and space away from the incessant demands placed on parents. Your time on the mat is a regular opportunity to retreat from responsibilities and just BE.

If you would like to learn more about this powerful practice, consider joining us for the Introduction to Ashtanga 4 week series at The Womb Room, beginning January 15, 2017.  This class will give you the foundation you need to join in the ongoing, weekly Mysore practice sessions (registration for the workshop includes a FREE MONTH of Mysore) and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a copy of David Swenson’s Ashtanga Yoga Practice Manual, an excellent guide to learning Ashtanga. If you sign up before the end of 2016, you can use the promo code BLOG to take $20 off the registration price. Register here and begin your journey to learn this deeply transformational practice, make a commitment to regular self-care and join a tight-knit yoga community.

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