The Practice of Parenting
With Katie Rushing
S. Krishna Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009), the esteemed yogi who is largely responsible for bringing Ashtanga Yoga to the west, began his studies after attending a yoga demonstration at his middle school by Sri T. Krishnamacharya. The twelve-year-old was so taken by what he learned he approached the distinguished yogi in hopes of becoming his student. T. Krishnamacharya accepted him and, for the next two years, S. Krishna Pattabhi Jois arose at five o’clock in the morning, unbeknownst to his family, to walk five kilometers to the home of his teacher to practice under his strict guidance.
Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory.
This lifelong pursuit of his passion led him to study and eventually teach at Sanskrit University, to meet and marry his wife, Amma, to travel and teach Ashtanga Yoga all over India, and to establish his very own Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute. In 2006, three years before his passing, one of his lifelong dreams was realized when he opened his institute in Islamorada, Florida. S. Krishna Pattabhi Jois contributed to the yoga community and the world in remarkable ways leaving a lasting legacy. Having taught for seven decades, the revered yogi is known for saying, “Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory”. Could the same perspective be applied when it comes to parenting?
Does experiencing your role as a parent occur differently to you if you allow yourself to believe you are practicing? Are you ok with practice not equalling perfect today, or maybe ever? Does the way you view your own upbringing change if you allow yourself to experience your parents as ‘practitioners’ rather than ‘people who should have done this, this, and this differently’? What shifts, if anything, for you?
As parents, we can encounter moments throughout the day when we:
- Are completely caught off guard
- Feel like an imposter
- Have absolutely no idea how to handle what is happening.
Choosing to try on parenting as a practice allows levity to be a part of the process.
Much like how it felt to be a freshman in high school, or college, or in young adulthood interviewing for jobs and going on first dates. We got better at being a freshman in high school because we practiced it every day. When we practice interviewing for jobs, it becomes less intimidating. When we go on dates to navigate finding the perfect partner, we learn as we go. We practice. There are yes’s and there are no’s and there are maybe’s. There are turns, there are twists, there are disappointments, and there are wonderful surprises. Choosing to try on parenting as a practice allows levity to be a part of the process and even has the potential to make those ‘backed into a corner’ moments feel like an adventure rather than slow water-torture.
I had the opportunity to put my practice into practice today when, instead of having a kid-free morning to accomplish adult things, I was loading kids into the car to go to the doctor. Once we were there, checked in, and sent to collect a urine sample, I found myself balancing an infant on my shoulder, squatting, and catching a five-year-old’s urine in a cup mid-stream. In that moment I thought: I should add this to my resume! And I think I will. I got to practice that! I also got to practice letting go of what I thought my day would look like. I hate letting that one go. I practiced it nonetheless, and I am certain I will practice it again…and again and again. What are you practicing that you can give yourself credit for?
Some days we might be strong. Some days we might fall.
Being a parent does not directly translate into knowing how to be a parent. If you are a parent or caregiver to children in any capacity, you will be practicing the art of that for the rest of your life. The landscape will change, the players will shift around, and the story will continue to unfold. One way to give those who have been entrusted to our care the best we have to offer is to humbly consider approaching it all as a practice. Just like in yoga: some days we might wobble. Some days we might be strong. Some days we might fall. Some days we might not want to. Some days we might be catching pee in in a cup. Some days we might surprise ourselves. And some days we might surprise one another.
I look forward to contributing to the Just Vibe community as we explore the world of parenting not as perfectionists, but as practitioners.
“Practice, practice and all is coming.” -S. Krishna Pattabhi Jois