Renowned Boston Yoga Teacher For Raising A Conscious Family


Health

How simple practices can relieve stress and improve communication.

Amy Leydon. Jenay Martin

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Amid the intense work demands and busy schedules of children, new policies and reports on school violence, it’s no wonder so many people feel like constant stress balls. Mindfulness and meditation can help, but how do you integrate these practices into family life?

Award-winning yoga teacher in Boston Amy leydon has tips for bringing mindfulness home. As well as being one of Boston’s most sought-after yoga teachers, Leydon is raising a four-year-old boy with her husband in the city’s North End, and she is no stranger to the pressures parents are feeling today. ‘hui. Mindfulness, she says, is a “tool in the toolbox” for families who hope to communicate more effectively. Leydon uses mindfulness to reduce stress, open communication with her husband, and help her son learn healthy emotional management.

According to Leydon, mindfulness can be part of a formal practice, like meditation or yoga, or it can be as simple as asking, “How am I feeling right now?” Basically, mindfulness is “being aware of how you are feeling at a given moment,” she said. Regardless of the modality, Leydon points out the many body-mind benefits of cultivating a mindfulness practice at home.

“Physically, it helps us notice if we are repeating movements that hurt our body,” she said. “On an energetic level, it might help us notice something we eat or a behavior we adopt that is making us tired or lethargic. Emotionally, we recognize our feelings and can express them. So if you have a recurring thought that tells you, “I’m not good enough,” you can notice it and stop it, rather than letting those patterns take over and affect your emotional health.

Raising a Conscious Family

Leydon said children can learn mindfulness as a method of coping with stress and learn healthy emotional expression as soon as they start to develop their language skills. The most important mindfulness technique she teaches her own son is “just to breathe,” she said.

“I said, ‘Breathe through your nose, feel this moment and talk to me. Tell me what’s wrong, ”she said. “If you have the patience with them to give them a second to breathe, you are teaching them mindfulness. What you do teaches them more than what you say.

While Leydon advocates the use of mindfulness as a way for children to learn to identify and express their emotions, she also said that practicing family mindfulness as a parent can mean paying close attention to the factors of your child’s stress and knowing when to adjust. Taking her son as an example, she said she noticed negative emotional reactions that most often manifested when he was tired or in a rush.

“Just recognizing that I’m pushing it too hard and taking a step back is mindfulness,” she said. “As any mom knows, sometimes your child has tantrums and there is absolutely nothing you can do. But it starts with you. The more we practice as parents, the more our children will understand it. “

Helping children connect with their bodies by focusing on their breathing or practicing yoga is also high on Leydon’s list for cultivating mindfulness at home.

“For a child, connecting with their body is the most obvious way to be grounded in the moment,” she said. “So it helps them learn to calm their bodies down in order to help calm their minds. “

Amy Leydon and her family.

Amy Leydon and her family.

Build a conscious relationship

Leydon said she recognizes that practicing mindfulness with a partner poses unique challenges.

“Dealing with your partner is a whole different story,” she said. “I think this is the most difficult relationship that people can practice mindfulness in because it can get very hot.”

In times of conflict with a partner, Leydon stresses the importance of identifying his emotions before reacting to them.

“Say, ‘I’m feeling angry right now,’ acknowledge that feeling and try to learn to feel it in your body before you lash out,” she said.

Despite her years of practice, Leydon said it took a long time for her to get to the point where she could identify her emotions well enough to deal with them in the moment.

“If I felt angry I would say, ‘I’m fine,’ but I wasn’t well,” she said. “If you pretend your feelings aren’t there, it’s going to affect you in a very negative way. “

Beyond checking in with yourself mentally, Leydon also recommends therapy for couples looking to practice healthy communication.

“Mindfulness teaches you to identify and feel your emotions,” she said. “Therapy helps you understand why you are feeling these things.”

To start

Although Leydon has stated that mindfulness can be introduced into all aspects of life, it does encourage some formal discipline, whether yoga or meditation, to help develop mindfulness skills.

Leydon incorporates meditation and mindfulness into her yoga classes, which she teaches weekly to both Exhale‘s Battery Wharf and Back Bay, as well as EquinoxDartmouth and Avery Street Gyms.

In addition to practicing breathing exercises with her, Leydon’s son takes yoga classes with Karen Shea, a yoga instructor who teaches yoga classes for children through the North End Music and Performing Arts Center. Leydon recommends Shea for families wishing to introduce their children to yoga. She also recommends Christyn Schroeder, founder of Yoga for children, a child-focused yoga education company.

If the very thought of going to a yoga class stresses you out, Leydon suggests listening to a podcast or reading a book that focuses on mindfulness practices. She offers them from two fellow yogis from the Boston area: Josh Summers podcast, “Everyday Sublime” and Rebecca Pachecopopular book of “Do Your Om Thing: Adapting the Yoga Tradition to Your Modern LifeWhich, according to Leydon, focuses on “simple mindfulness techniques that you can incorporate into your everyday life.”

For a totally non-yogic reading that still applies mindfulness practices, Leydon suggests any book written by Brène Brown, research professor at the University of Houston and TED presenter whose written work explores his study of human connection and how readers can apply his research to the promotion of self-esteem and confidence in their own lives.

Avoid discouragement

Leydon points out that seeing the effects of mindfulness practice can take time.

“It’s not something that is going to happen overnight,” she said. “It’s a lifetime of work, and you might not notice the changes immediately. “

Although she has practiced for 20 years, she emphasizes that it is always normal to struggle with family life.

“My life is by no means perfect,” she said. “My son pushes my buttons, my husband pushes my buttons, and I just want people to know that this is something I have to practice every day. It will always be a work in progress.