Mindful Parenting on and off the Mat
Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D., a psychologist, researcher, and mother, conducts studies at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco to determine how teaching mindfulness and yoga to pregnant women and new moms might reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. She states, "A lot of suffering is, paradoxically, caused by all of the ways we attempt to get away from distress. By increasing our capacity to be present and aware, without moving away or reacting, moms will likely be more able to deal with all those situations that can't be changed—the crying, the body changes, the lack of sleep—while still being right there. This is a lot of what good parenting is: being able to stay present even in painful moments, and not pulling away or reacting habitually."
Optimal Health and Hygiene for the Mind
The expansion in awareness we can experience in yoga and meditation teaches us that we are inherently free from the fear and anxiety so characteristic of our modern age. Robert Newman, author of Calm Birth: New Method for Conscious Childbirth (North Atlantic Books, 2006), says that within and outside the womb, "a child inseparably, in sympathetic resonance with her mother, experiences the health-enhancing return to free awareness." Newman says a mother continually trains her child energetically. "If the woman practices awareness-enhancing disciplines like yoga and meditation, the child will be entrained to a higher order of function and will tend to more completely access her potential."
Letting Go of Control and Expectations
That's where yoga comes in, according to Jessica Weiss, director of the Yogamoms program for Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland, and a mother of two. "In postnatal yoga class, mothers can shed the cloak of perfection and really talk about what's going on in their lives, moving from isolation to connection." Weiss guides women to change their pace and come into sync with their babies.
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