Is your Dad a Yogi?


In 2009, Father's Day
cost individual consumers an average of $90.89, while Mother's Day
spending was $123.89, according to a recent National Geographic article. Even though the wallets open less wide than for mother's day, psychology lecturer Gilbert Cole says the smiles are likely genuine when millions of fathers across
the U.S. open boxes, peel back tissue paper, and admire their new
neckties--still somehow the most common gist for the holiday.

Her research shows that even though
dads get less attention on Father's Day than moms do on Mother's Day,
fathers are more likely to be satisfied on their holiday. This letting go of expectation and contentment with what is presented makes Dad, even though he's never set foot in a yoga studio, a yogi in my book.

Your dad may also embody the Brahmavihara's, which Thich Nhat Han considers a blueprint for true love. After some brief reflection, it's obvious that my dad has done yoga his entire life.

Maitri, Loving Kindness
My dad's second grade teacher said that Larry had never met a stranger. He was instantly friends with whomever crossed his path. While my mother sometimes briefly bemoaned the additional guests, our dinner table was always shared with those in need of a friend. My father was that unwavering, loving friend for anyone he met.

Karuna, Compassion
Every winter my father, without fail, would gather up our old (and
sometimes favorite) blankets and drive them to shelters. I remember being dragged out of bed early on Earth Day to clean up the St. John's River, missing out on a mall trip to accompany him to a soup kitchen--and on more than one occasion being late to school because my dad had stopped to save a (turtle, rabbit, squirrel) that was (in the middle of the road, sick or abandoned).

Mudita, Sympathetic Joy
Whose father has not beamed with pride at their graduation, teared up at a wedding or gingerly framed their first finger painting? These life events make it easy to share in others' joy, but what about the father who is proud even when you make the tough decision to drop out of college or take a chance and move across the country or even across the world? Putting his own preferences aside, he is able to share joy in that which brings me happiness, truly, honestly and selflessly.

Vpeksha, Spaciousness, "Seeing the big picture"
Whether I was going through a dramatic break-up or disappointed with my SAT score, Dad was always there to put it back in perspective. Dads are good at that.

Whether he takes his time to enjoy a great meal or simply enjoys being outdoors, in what ways has your father proven to be a yogi? Which of these sounds most like him and which of these can you work to embody in your life?

Erin Chalfant is a writer, yoga teacher and the Web Editor at Yoga Journal. She would like to thank Sianna Sherman and the Kapi Shashi Kula for inspiring this reflection.