Parents wanting the best life for their children are encouraged to take on the principles of yoga and develop themselves. Queensland-based psychologists Jan Dugan and Jan Gudkovs are both yoga teachers whose children, now happy and well-adjusted adults, were raised with yogic practices and ethics.
Dugan and Gudkovs’ new book, The Focused Child: How Yoga Can Help You Raise Happy, Healthy, Contented Children, offers a simple guide for parents to learn and use practices of yoga that will not only help themselves in their day-to-day life, but give their kids a direct role model. “Children naturally mimic their parents,” says Dugan. “So if the mother doesn’t tell lies, the children won’t tell lies. If the mother is patient, the child is much more likely to be patient. If the mother is never angry, the children won’t be angry.”
Rather than provide yoga asanas in the book, the pair detail other yogic tools and techniques, such as pranayama, that can be practised by parents and older kids to create a calm family environment. Topics covered include how to foster self-esteem in children and ways to overcome fear and depression.
“As psychologists, every day we see people who have no framework for understanding themselves or their family situations, and no strategies for overcoming problems,” says Dugan. “When we raised our children, we were fortunate to have the influence and training from a yoga teacher, so we were able to provide all of that for our children and see the benefit—our kids just absorbed it all. Our children look back on their childhood as a very happy, idyllic time.”
As parents deal with their own stressors in their life by employing techniques such as journalling and meditation, their energy and focus can be given to more important and long-lasting aspects of child-raising.
“Our teacher conceived the idea of innateness—that every child comes to the world with a gift, a special potential, and it’s up to us as parents and teachers to unwrap it. It might be a gift for maths or astronomy, or stamp collecting. It’s very important for parents to observe the child and see what they are tending towards, or attracted to, and provide them with the opportunities to express that. When a child is expressing that, they are very happy and content; they won’t want to take risks or harm themselves,” explains Dugan.