Our 1st duty as parents – Living the 8 limbs of yoga

The 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga/Raja yoga  provide a holistic methodology to systematically release the mind & thus live more enlightened, purposeful lives! (isn’t that what most of us want?)

The name “8 Limbs” comes from the Sanskrit term Ashtanga and refers to the eight limbs of yoga: Yama (attitudes toward our environment), Niyama (attitudes toward ourselves), Asana (physical postures), Pranayama (restraint or expansion of the breath), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (complete integration). 

The above can be applied to all areas of our lives including parenting!

All around us, we see that Childrens yoga classes are taking off.  My 2yr old & 3 year old each have their own mat and block & delight getting into mountain, warrior, tree, and downward facing dog poses. Getting children actively involved in yoga from young is great for their bodies, their minds, and breathing!

But do we have to wait until children are standing on their 2 legs to start thinking about how yoga applies to/affects them? 

If you only think of yoga (as the modernised world so often does) as in just the physical, (asanas/poses), then you may say that your baby already started doing yoga whilst in Utero in Pindasana. (Side note: how cute are babies as they progress from svasanasa to dhanurasana and then to happy baby poses?)

When you step away from the physical, and implore the 8 limbs of yoga, you will realise that the consistent practice of this holistic approach benefits not only the practitioner, but their future offspring as well. In one of our lectures, M.Paalu mentioned that consistent pranayama & meditation practiced by parents even before conception, has a tremendously positive outcome on the children they bring into this world – it’s postive effects pass through not just the DNA, but through the energy exuded as well! When both mother and Father are aligned and centred in self, such an environment creates a conducive, healthy space to raise children.

I started thinking of my own pregnancies and pleasantly recalled some of the spiritual & positive daily habits I performed. Unfortunately, once the babies arrived my world turned crazy like it usually does for most mums during the first few years of child-rearing: my swadhyaya (reading/self study), focus (dharana) and meditation (dhyana) practice deteriorated.

It is only now that my kids are in school for half the day, that I finally have some

time for myself and am reintroducing reading, studying, pranayam & meditation back to my life. Although I feel the rustiness of my 37 year old brain and body, I am Glad that I have made the start & have action plans to get myself polished again. The 4 weeks of intense introspection during YTT allowed me to shine the torch inwards on myself (Niyamas). I am grateful to have done this course at the beginning of the year so that i can take forward the very many lessons & techniques learnt, (specifically Sankalpha,  one-pointed resolve to focus both psychologically and philosophically on a specific goal), and build on it  & remember 2019 as the year that Kas returned to the world after being stuck in the ‘mummy cave’ during the last 3.5years! 

There are 2 things we should give our children – one is roots and the other is wings” – Author unknown.

The 8 Limbs of Yoga provide a solid foundation that we can implement so that our children may experience and observe from our behaviours and actions. By introducing concentration games early on in childhood, we plant the seeds for them to focus and concentrate (Dharana) thereby creating their independence.

Life offers no greater responsibility, no greater privilege than the raising of the next generation” – C Everett Koop. We owe it to our children to be the best versions of ourselves; to live to our full potential; and to add (positively and purposefully) to this life that we have been given.