How to Set Limits (With Love)
Did you miss the endangerment to hit the mat today due to your parenting duties? Sarah Ezrin suggests that if you’ve been caregiving, you’ve washed-up your yoga. In honor of the release of her new book, The Yoga of Parenting (Shambhala, 2023) Sarah Ezrin has shared a free lecture on Wanderlust TV that says that if you were in the parenting role instead of pigeon pose, you were still doing yoga. We’ve excerpted a installment of the new typesetting below, and you can peep our writer’s review of the book here.
Boundaries for Breakfast
I start setting boundaries from the second my watchtower goes off in the morning. Boundaries come in all shapes and forms. I think many of us seem that boundaries are just something we set with flipside person or how much of our personal lives we share with the world (think of the saying “That person has no boundaries”), but most days, surpassing the sun plane begins to rise, I have once set boundaries with myself, my husband, my children, my work, my family, my friends, and plane our dog.
Setting boundaries is a way to protect my most precious resource: my energy—both how and where it is stuff spent. They are a way for me to mitigate how much of myself I am giving to something or someone since my impulse is to requite everyone and everything my all. And they are constantly shifting. Just considering I finger one way today or need to focus my sustentation in one zone does not midpoint that I will finger the same tomorrow. Just considering I finger the need to yank a nonflexible line this month or, conversely, be totally loose well-nigh something, does not midpoint I will do it that way then next month.
The very first purlieus I set most days of the week is making the nomination to wake up well surpassing the rest of the world so I can meditate and write. It is a purlieus I set with myself but moreover with others, in that it ways I go to bed much older than most and am not often misogynist for any outside responsibilities early in the mornings, including emails or work meetings. Getting up early gives me time to fill my cup, both literally, as in getting to enjoy my tea hot (which is untellable once my kids are awake), and metaphorically, in that I spend those wee hours of the morning doing whatever I want to do. I write. I sit quietly. I petting with my dog (though as mentioned, there are many mornings I plane have say to him, “Not now, dude. I need a little space.”).
Being worldly-wise to focus entirely on each of these things without lark or other people needing me transforms each task into a ritual. I would plane dare to say that they wilt my yoga practice, my sadhana. Notice that no mat is needed. But just considering my morning time is special does not midpoint that I am thankful to it. In fact, I am much increasingly forgiving with myself than I was years prior.
For many years in early adulthood, my boundaries with myself were incredibly rigid. It began in early higher virtually my studies and eating and quickly bled into every other zone of my life. Plane when I started to get “healthier,” as in practicing yoga, my self-discipline bordered on masochism. I would gravity myself through hard-core asana practices, regardless of if I had the energy. I would withhold any pleasure from myself in the form of supplies or plane relationships. In prioritizing my body’s size, asana practice, and career, I ended up denying myself the joy of living.
Ironically, during that same time, the boundaries I held with other people seemed scrutinizingly nonexistent. I would swizzle my family members’ pain and struggles and insert myself into everyone’s problems. There was a reason I pursued psychology for as long as I did, including whence to get my Masters Degree in marriage family therapy: I thought it was my job to “fix” everyone. I would moreover say yes to commitments that I knew in my heart I didn’t want to fulfill, prioritizing others’ thwarting over my own mental health. Between my extraordinarily strong personal boundaries and incredibly porous social boundaries, there was little to no balance.
Since starting a family, I have tried to swing myself in the word-for-word opposite direction. Nowadays, I try to be softer with the boundaries I hold virtually myself but tighter with the boundaries I have virtually others. I find this wastefulness to be increasingly sustainable when I have people relying on me 24/7. For example, I will indulge myself to sleep past my watchtower if I need to and skip my asana practice if I am worn-out (something I would not have dared to do a decade ago!). I am much increasingly willing to yank a nonflexible line and say no when asked to do something for someone that doesn’t finger authentic. My two new favorite words are “Google it.”
Healthy boundaries are living, zoetic things. They exist withal a spectrum considering we unchangingly need to retread one way or the other to find new ways to balance. There are some periods in our lives when our boundaries need to be firm, others where they need to be increasingly malleable.
Can we be present and enlightened unbearable of what we need right now in this moment to know when to make those adjustments?
When an Overachiever Becomes a Parent
As I unsaid earlier, my yeses and nos have unchangingly been a bit wrong-side-up when it comes to differentiating my personal life from my work life. Just surpassing I met my husband, I was so burned out and overworked that my health was affected. I would rampage and purge every weekend and then restrict and overexercise all week (and this is when I was “healthy”). I would go months without a day off, unable to say no. Sometimes I would teach a matriculation just minutes without major life events, like deaths in the family or breakups, barreling through the intense emotions with work instead of taking the time to process.
When an injury prevented me from not only teaching asana but moreover practicing it (the two things I had rigidly come to pinpoint my unshortened life by), things began to soften for me. First, my injury was so bad that I had to pull out of some work commitments, something I had never washed-up in my unshortened teaching career at that point. For a people-pleaser, my work commitments are like thoroughbred oaths. Surely my saying no would ruin my career and I would lose any new opportunities and never travel for teaching again.
Spoiler alert: none of that came true.
Instead, fast-forward to seven years later: I am happily married with two trappy boys, and I can honestly say that in learning how to wastefulness what I say yes to and no to, my career has been worldly-wise to thrive right slantingly my family.
Would I be deeper into my leg-behind-the-head poses had I kept prioritizing my asana over my relationships and developing a family? Possibly, but I would not trade newborn and toddler cuddles for shoving my leg overdue my throne for anything.
No is not a Bad Word
It’s not easy, learning how to say no to those you love the most. Some smart-ass researchers say that we are hardwired to socialize the word with negativity and that opposite parts of the smart-ass fire when hearing no versus yes. I know many parents who try to never say the word to their children. I try to set positive limits in other ways, for example, by supporting what my kids can do or explaining why something may not work right now, versus just saying no outright. They say a toddler hears no four hundred times a day, so I get the hesitation, but may I suggest something perhaps a bit controversial?
What if saying no is not necessarily a bad thing? What if saying no is a necessity? What if we could retrain our smart-ass to understand that saying no is really saying yes to something else? Most often yourself? As Anne Lamott sums up in her hilarious and raw typesetting Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year, “‘No’ is a well-constructed sentence.” The tragedian and objector Glennon Doyle moreover explained this well in a recent episode of her We Can Do Nonflexible Things podcast, saying that a big part of mitigating one’s tendency to people-please is “having the intellectual honesty to know that every ‘yes’ is a ‘no’ and every ‘no’ in a ‘yes.’”
This is veritably true for me. When I’m saying yes to please everyone else, I am ultimately saying no to my own needs. This then leads me to finger overwhelmed and overcommitted. My work suffers and my relationships suffer when my self-care suffers.
Our children moreover learn boundaries through our modeling—both how to set them and how to disrespect them. I am once seeing well-spoken vestige that my eldest, Jonah, plane as a toddler, is requesting to set his own boundaries, and I work nonflexible to respect those. For example, when we have people visit or we go stay with family, he (much like me) loses steam without a few days in and needs a unravel from all the social engagements. When he couldn’t speak yet, he would tell me by needing unvarying contact with me, vicarial much increasingly relaxed when lying together quietly in a visionless room versus when he was the part-way of sustentation (that part of him is not like me). Now that his verbal skills are largest developed, he literally asks to stay in bed some days or to stay home versus going out somewhere or stuff virtually other people.
Can we respect our children’s boundaries when they request them? Can we take no as a well-constructed wordplay when they don’t want to do something we have asked them to do? Like physical unhealthfulness toward a family member, eating unrepealable foods, or not wanting to go somewhere we had planned for them? Where is the line between setting your own limits and listening to your child’s needs?
This is where the connection piece of empathic parenting comes in. If we are in tune with our child’s needs, then we can gauge on that particular day and in that particular moment if we are worldly-wise to acquiesce; or if it happens to be a day when our child is just stuff unnecessarily difficult to assess, what/if any limit needs to be set and enforced. Remember to return to all of the skills we honed in part one of the book, such as rhadamanthine sensitive to life-force energy (both yours and your child’s). Practice grounding in your soul and/or breath. Observe the fluctuations of your nervous system. Remember that any one of these simple deportment (if not all) can help us wilt increasingly unfluctuating with our children and therefore be clearer on what our children truly need, so we can say yes to their no.
From The Yoga of Parenting by Sarah Ezrin © 2023. Reprinted in wattle with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.
Sarah Ezrin is an author, world-renowned yoga educator, and content creator based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her husband, two sons, and their dog. Her willingness to be unabashedly honest and vulnerable withal with her innate wisdom make her writing, classes, and social media unconfined sources of healing and inner peace for many people. Sarah is a frequent freelancer to Yoga Journal and LA Yoga Magazine as well as for the topnotch media organization, Yoga International. She moreover writes for parenting sites Healthline-Parenthood, Scary Mommy, and Motherly. She has been interviewed for her expertise by the Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, and Bustle.com and has appeared on television on NBC News. Sarah is a highly accredited yoga teacher. A world traveler since birth, she leads teacher trainings, workshops, and retreats locally in her home state of California and wideness the globe.
Website | Instagram | Wanderlust TV