Taking Yoga off the Mat: Choices and Responsibilities

By Jennifer Dixon MBA ERYT 500 – As a mother of two small children, it’s funny how often “learning opportunities” pop up into daily life.  Like most people, I had these…what should I call them? Ideals? Pipe Dreams? You know, the “If I ever have kids, they are NEVER gonna do, XYZ.” All you parents out there are smiling, I can FEEL it.  So yea, I’m guilty of that.  

Side story.

Once, while my husband and I were eating out up in NYC, there was a couple of moms with 4 kids between them eating nearby.  The kids were being kids (ie not sitting nice and quietly), and my husband said one of those infamous, “my kid will NEVER do that.” statements (which quickly turned into a pseudo-argument because I come from a LARGE family and my sister had kids early, so I thought I knew exactly what kids did (smirk here), but at least in that situation I told my better half he was crazy to think his kids would sit perfectly at a restaurant.  That was like minimum 11-12 yr old requirement (in my book, but that’s not the point of this post.)

Fast forward almost 10 years and 2 kids later, and we are TOTALLY that table.  It’s only two kids though. (we don’t eat out much, clearly.) So when a teachable moment came up recently, it got me to thinking about how I could use it in my own life.

My son is almost a year and a half, and he is ALL boy.  His new game (I affectionately call, “love hurts”) is where he comes up to my daughter and gives her a BIG hug then basically body slams her down to the ground where he (and sometimes she) proceed to giggle and wrestle. If you see my kids and see all the bruises on their foreheads, you now know why.

Well, like I said, sometimes, my daughter laughs, lately, not so much.  (my son is getting bigger and bigger and more intentional with his takedowns.)  While we work on keeping our hands to ourselves in the toddler world, I’m working on another principle with my daughter.  It’s the Principle of “taking responsibility for your own actions.”

You see, up until the last month or so, she could almost always win in the wrestling matches with my son.  Up until my son started getting the coordination that comes with getting closer to 2, my daughter could tease, take away, even “discipline” as she saw fit with very little my son could do other than cry and have an adult rectify the injustice done to him.

We’ve been working on this with my daughter since day one.  I mean, odds are, my son, although younger, will grow taller than my daughter, and stronger, probably quickly, so we’ve been trying to convince my daughter that she better teach her brother nice things because he’s gonna be big one day and he’s going to learn to do what she does to him.

OUCH..talk about teachable moment right there…but I will keep going and save THAT one for a later date.

Well, guess what, that day is here.  He’s learned exactly what she’s taught him, and darn it, he’s GOOD at it.  When she tries to take something, he doesn’t let her. When she tries to move him, he moves her.  I mean, who would have thought a 1 yr old and a 3 yr old could be so…well, aggressive? My sweet babies are freaking MEAN when it comes right down to it!

With my son, the only lesson I can really teach him (right now) is to keep his hands to himself and to share and try to play nicely.  With my daughter, however, we can take the lessons up a notch and start to talk to her about how it is the actions she takes that impact and cause reactions he takes and therefore she should take responsibilities for her actions and try to modify them accordingly.  (no, I don’t use those words exactly, but her vocabulary is pretty good.)

Here’s the thing, I think a LOT of people have trouble taking responsibilities for their own actions.  I think it’s much easier to blame someone or something else than it is to accept responsibility. I’m sure I’m not alone in noticing this about myself and others.  This was (and still can be) a really hard lesson for me. I want to try to help my children understand and take responsibility for themselves at a very young age, so they can truly make their own destinies not be victims of a destiny.

The same goes in your yoga practice.  Only you know what’s going on in your body on any given day.  As a yoga teacher, time and time again I come across students that have injured themselves or just plain burned out because they didn’t stop and listen to themselves.  Rather than modify the practice, the “muscle” through and then BAM, injury occurs and suddenly, it’s Yoga’s fault for XYZ happening.

Folks, we HAVE to stop before we get injured.  We HAVE to listen when our bodies don’t feel right.  Granted, there is a difference between not wanting to do something because it’s inconvenient or out of laziness vs genuine actual internal dialogue that tells you it is hurting.  It’s terrible to go through an injury. It’s even more terrible if the injury is self-inflicted. It’s downright criminal when it’s self-inflicted and then not recognized as such.

I was working with a client a couple of years ago.  This person did not heed my advice on modifications and going slowly.  Instead, the client continued to push himself into a broken bone and 6 weeks of complete non-weight bearing.  It was not the yoga’s fault. It wasn’t my fault (I had clearly advised against the intensity of the practice.)  It was no one’s fault but the person that continued to do the practice. To this day, I don’t think that person has gone back to that particular type of yoga practice.  It’s a shame because yoga could have really helped that person–physically, emotionally, and so much more.

I was reading an article while preparing for this post when I came across this quote by Jim Rohn that I thought fitting:

“If you want to have more, you have to become more.  For things to change, you have to change. For things to get better, you have to become better.  If you improve, everything will improve for you. If you grow, your money will grow, your relationships, your health, your business, and every external effect will mirror that growth in equal correlation.”  Jim Rohn

Now, I know that’s a little too deep for my 3 yr old daughter, however, she can totally start learning that she must behave better towards her brother if she wants him to behave better.  She is old enough to start learning about her responsibility in the outcome of her peers’ responses to her. As adults, we can totally grasp the magnitude of this statement. You and I have to be more to become more.  We have to change the way we do things if we want things around us to change.

If you and I can start to understand this and then teach by example to all those around us, imagine the outcome for the entire world.  This could be the ripple in the water that causes the tsunami of change this world needs. As for me, I am going to strive to take responsibility for the way I behave and make the choice to do better and become more.  As for my children, I will endeavor to teach them to do the same. I hope you’ll join me.

If you’d like to come and practice yoga with us, and you’re in the Chattanooga area, I invite you to our beautiful new studio located at 7633 E. Brainerd Road 37421.  If you’re not in the area, we have awesome online resources available to you to practice from the comfort of your home in our online membership area.  We are offering an excellent opportunity for you to get in and check us out for only $1 for the first month.  After that, it goes up to just $19.99. This fee includes a member only area with a growing library of power, strength building sequences, and a member-only FB group where we get together and motivate each other with yoga community.  I can’t wait to see you on the mat soon.


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