I'm really excited to present on the blog a series of interviews with Yoga Parents. These are accomplished yoga practitioners and teachers who are also navigating the world of parenthood. I'm fascinated with how parenthood and yoga intersect for practitioners who are taking the practices within yoga beyond the physical and into their homes as parents.
I'm delighted to have here Tara Darlington, a mother of six children from toddler to teenagers, a teacher of yoga, a birth educator, parenting educator and energy healer. I have had the fortune of working in Tara's inspiring business that supports women in their journey into and through motherhood. She is a passionate advocate of the wisdom of motherhood and the importance of this role in a woman's life, her family, her community. Her business Empowering Motherhood provides a range of services for women on the journey of motherhood and beyond in the form of yoga, workshops, doula services and more. She also runs a weekly podcast, Empowering Motherhood Radio, covering a range of topics around motherhood from birth to health and healing.
I remember the first time I ever spoke to Tara. She said to me, "I believe there's a hard way to parent and there's an easy way. I choose the easy way". She had me from there, I listened very closely to what she had to offer.
Sandra: How has becoming a mother influence your yoga practice?
Tara: There have been many shifts to talk about. In a nut shell, my yoga practice is now a need rather than a want. I use it to restore and replenish rather than achieve and compete. My yoga practice is not all about physical achievement now, more about connecting deeply with myself and my own personal needs. I use it to help me to listen to my inner voice and my higher self so that I feel guided and on purpose for my daily life.
My practice is also there to help me to stay present and connected with the children and their individual needs - each and every one of them! I was a mother before I took up yoga consistently in my life, so I would say that I have found consistency to be more important (ie can't live without it!). While I would love to attend yoga classes everyday, I don't have the time, so consistency has become more important than achievement. Small amounts of regular time doing yoga, meditation and living as consciously as I can throughout the day. I need small, regular doses to keep me clear and centred.
On a physical level, my goals and intentions have shifted. I want to be the healthiest I can be so that I can live life to the fullest and have the energy I need for everyone without exhausting myself.
How does being a yoga practitioner influence how you relate to your children and your partner?
Being a yoga teacher allows flexibility with my time so that I am able to put my family first and keep balance with all the demands placed on me. I feel that I am example to others, so I'm on a constant path of growing awareness so that I can be the best role model that I can be for my clients and my children by living the best version of myself. I am also continuously learning from my clients. This is a major contributor to my own personal growth and awareness. I have taught my children breathing, relaxation and mindfulness as part of their upbringing. It's a lifestyle and a conscious awareness so I hope that I am influencing my fmaily in this way everyday.
What is your best practice for managing the activity, noise and chaos that comes with children?
In the moment, deep breathing - of course! But for maintenance, my morning routine is very important to me. In the past, I didn't gift enough time to nourish myself by resting and refuelling. It's easy to become lost in the busy-ness and everyone else's needs. I have created a morning routine that has become the ritual that holds my morning meditation practice. I find when I have made time for myself in the mornings (even if it's just a moment or a minute) I feel clearer, calmer and happier. This also helps me to remain on purpose, productive and gives my mind time and space to find solutions to challenges in my daily life. This morning practice makes it easy for me to recenter myself and stay present in stressful times.
I also allow my children to play and explore as part of their life education and personal development, parenting has become so controlling and technical! Coming back to basics of what children really need, such as play and discovering nature, means I have less chaos and stress than others deal with even though I have 6 children.
What is your advice for a new parent?
Wisdom is threefold - knowledge, experience and good judgement. This means educate yourself (don't wing the most important job in the world), find a mentor who will guide you to conscious parenting and conscious living and develop a yoga and meditation practice that helps you to connect with your inner knowing and trust your intuition.
Tara has an online meditation program "Rise & Shine" - 21 days to a positively empowering morning routine. This is designed for busy mums to create a morning routine that will give you some space to center yourself and develop a long term morning meditation practice. For more from Tara you can find her at Empowering Motherhood and Empowering Motherhood Radio.