1. Keep your eyes on your own mat.
Don't worry about what anyone else is doing. The guy on your right can bend his legs into lotus while in a handstand. The woman on your left can't touch her toes. We all have our own work to do, and what we each have to work with is unique. Don't compare yourself to anyone else in yoga class, baby playgroup or at school pick-up. Work what you're working without focusing on anyone else. We are all self-absorbed, whatever it is that you are insecure about, no one else cares.
2. You have your tried and true style. Switch it up. Don't get stuck.
Power yoga, vinyasa, jivamukti, restorative, yin, ashtanga, bikram.... There are so many choices, and once we find one that works for us, we stick to it. Same with parenting. We all have our own innate parenting styles, but what works now might not feel productive in a few years. Just as switching to a new yoga class propels you forward, as your kids grow your parenting needs to transition as well. Hopefully your teen isn't still sucking on a binky. Kids are evolving, get on board or get left behind.
3. Look to others for inspiration.
Inspiration is all around. There is a woman in my class whom I watch with complete awe. She moves with the agility of a cat, shows fierce bravery trying something new and her body bends like a rubber band. I know that what she does comes from years of dedication and rather than feel like a pathetic sad sack next to her, I relish watching her practice. Friends, strangers, fellow parents at school all display their parenting for the world to see. See something that makes you take notice? Good, take the inspiration and go with it. We don't all need to be Martha Stewart and it doesn't all need to come from scratch.
4. There are teachers to assist, and child's pose when you need it.
In class, teachers lend a gentle hand on the back to help you fold forward or offer balance as you try an inversion. We all need help sometimes. If you need an extra hand, call a friend, grandparent, sister or a mom of a boy your son's baseball team. If no help is coming your way, then as in Yoga class, there is child's pose. It's always there when you need to take a break, no shame in taking advantage of parenting's version of child's pose. Making breakfast for dinner, skip bath time, put on the TV and let them eat while watching a movie. If you need "because I have a child's" pose, take it.
5. Every day will be different.
Monday it all works; my body feels good, my mind is clear and asanas are enjoyed with ease. Tuesday I'm tight, I can't get my mundane to do list of crap off my mind and no amount of OM is going to help. Poses are tough and I fall on my head. Then I fall on my side. It's a disaster. I am a disaster. We all have those days where everyone goes to bed happy and calm, so we pat ourselves on the back for being a rock star mom. The next morning, it's evident the devil arrived in the night and inhabited all the souls in the house. Everyone is miserable, nothing goes as planned and it's the type of day you swear its dinner time and want to shoot yourself when you realize its only 11 a.m. Every day is different. Don't let your ego get too inflated on a great day and don't take a horrible day too much to heart. Take your positive and negative reviews with a grain of salt.
6. Identify your strengths and weaknesses.
No one has it all. Some have strength, others flexibility and some balance. Be honest about your strengths and work those areas that are more challenging -- don't take the easy way out. On my mat, and in the rest of my life, I have strength but not balance. Poses that require strength feel good because I am secure. Less comfortable are those poses that require balance; anything on one foot is an open door to ego and insecurity. We all know where we fall short with our kids. Next time, instead of calling for the other parent or giving up hastily, give it a try. What's the worst that can happen? Your kids might see you aren't perfect. Good, because neither are they.
7. "To wobble is human."
When you do try something new you might wobble, you might fall. One of my teachers often says, "to wobble is human." It makes me feel better as I work on my balance and fall over. It feels better to try and laugh it off then not try at all.
8. Practice, practice, practice.
We all have that one teacher: she can do every pose with ease and then invert them all without breaking a sweat. All of that has been achieved through hard work and practice. And more practice, and then some more. Some poses come easily, most come through dedicated and repeated practice. The handstand your teacher makes look like a piece of cake, the kids nicely playing coloring at the table next to you, all comes from practice. If you want something don't bitch and moan, put the work in.
Yoga class ends with savasana (corpse pose). It is a pose of total relaxation, making it one of the most challenging asanas. At the end of the day, relax. You've done your best, or maybe not. Regardless, its been lived so allow yourself savasana. Tomorrow will come soon enough
10. Have some grace. At least try.
This is one of the hardest lessons I have learned and I often fall short. When you are in class and you're struggling to hold a pose, do as my teacher says and "smile, try to have grace on your face." This goes for life, including parenting -- if you can muster any amount of grace, well done. If not, fake it till you make it.