Being both a yoga practitioner and a parent, I found it useful to look to the idea of the Guru in Indian traditions as guidance in this role. As a parent, you understand intrinsically that your role is more than a functional and practical one in your child's life. It is a "job" that encompasses the wellbeing of your child on every level of their being, physical, educational, spiritual, emotional. This is where the idea that you, as a parent, are actually your child's first Guru comes in.
In yoga, the guru is beyond a teacher, he is a master. The guru is a personal spiritual guide that takes his student from darkness to light, from ignorance to understanding, from misconception to illumination. In fact, the very word guru, literally translates as darkness "gu" and light "ru".
In modern yoga today, there are so many teachers to be found. More than likely you have found some great yoga teachers who's classes and words have resonated with you. You felt that they have passed on a message that you needed to hear at that moment. You can tell that there is something more to this yoga practice than just the exercise. And you can tell that there is something different about the role of the yoga teacher as compared with a fitness instructor or personal trainer. You would be correct in this assumption because central to the transmission of yoga throughout millennia is the idea of the teacher-disciple relationship. That the art of yoga is learned through direct contact with someone who has walked the path already and can take your hand as you pick your way through the practice.
You are your child's first guru. This sentiment is echoed in Sanskrit texts that refer to the mother as the first guru and also compare the guru to a mother and a father. Some go as far as to say that the relationship between parent and child, like that between a guru and disciple, extend far beyond the present lifetime. The parallels drawn between the role of the parent and the role of the guru highlight the importance of these guiding teachers in an individual's life.
Our job as parents often seems unrewarding and relentless. The piles of laundry, the constant meal preparation, managing tantrums and sibling arguments, being the chauffeur to sports and music lessons, homework coach. We wear so many hats in the job of parent and sometimes it seems that it would be so much easier if someone else could come and take over some of these roles. Add to that the fact that you can't take a day off from this job. However each of the moments you have with your child presents an opportunity to see yourself as your child's first guru. In a stage of rapid development there is always a chance to use the moment to be the guide in life that you would hope your child would choose for themselves.
Thinking of yourself as being your child's first guru can seem daunting considering that the word "guru" contains so many heavy connotations from the image in our heads of what a guru looks like to all the recent news stories cropping up of yoga "gurus" gone awry. It's important to remember that these were not true teachers to begin with, and a true guru is one that will take each individual as they are, that they lead the disciple from a place of ignorance to illumination. Now isn't that the kind of parent you would love to be?
© 2015 Sandra Wang theyogaparent.wordpress.com