Struggling to Balance Alone

This is an unusual post for me, but something that touches on the patience that is cultivated through yoga and also of being a parent. My oldest started Kindergarten this year and since that time I am struggling with my youngest to teach him some independence of play. I don’t know why this is such a struggle this year as Ike was in Preschool twice a week last year, but it is. I find myself constantly needing to entertain the little guy and if I don’t he lays around on the floor with his lovey looking sad and pathetic.

This is what I see if I say,
This is what I see if I say, “Play by yourself for a few minutes.”

It got me thinking today (and this was not my original post plan for the day) about what it means to be independent in life, your practice, your beliefs, and the patience that you need to have with yourself for exactly that. And also that I need to call out to other parents to ask… do you teach a 3yo to play alone?!

My yoga practice these days is pretty solitary. I sit upstairs and practice when I can. I don’t attend other classes than the ones I teach at the moment because it doesn’t make financial sense to do so. It means that I have had to learn how to play alone….by force. I also run alone. I exercise alone in all ways at this point in my life.

This is not by choice, but by choice of circumstance. We don’t live close enough to any of our friends for me to run with them and I don’t belong to a gym. I still have kids at home who need me to watch them, so if I did join a gym I’d need to have childcare included. This is not how I’ve always been. Before my oldest was born I exercised with my husband, my sister, and a friend/colleague. Before that it was always with friends or my first husband. I was part of teams in college (first triathlon and then crew). I was part of teams in middle school and high school. I came from a family that competed in road races and triathlons and I always did it with someone else.

We've tried some of this even......but it's still me engaging with him and not him finding ways to be on his own.
We’ve tried some of this even……but it’s still me engaging with him and not him finding ways to be on his own.

Now, there’s a freedom that comes from exercising alone and I’m sure my son will learn the freedom that comes with playing alone as well. But, before that freedom there is a fear and there is an aspect of motivational decline. How easy is it to say I don’t need to workout today…..I can do it tomorrow if there’s no one to keep you to it? How easy is it to let tv watching, blog reading, or just “relaxing” get in the way of your yoga practice? What about work and other things that need your attention?

While it may be fun to workout alone and it may be necessary some times, it’s also a good idea to have someone to workout with. Not only does it make you accountable (that’s why people have trainers), it can keep you safe (think spotter in lifting or emergency aid on a long bike ride through the country), and there’s even an element of friendly competition that some people enjoy. That being said, exercise and yoga both require you to develop the patience and fortitude to keep yourself on track.

My yoga practice asks me to turn inward and to be patient with my results in my physical practice and my meditation/understanding. Sometimes the best yoga practice is sitting alone and understanding why I am there… one else can answer that question for me. So, I see the need for both. I’m glad my son plays well with others and enjoys that aspect of play. Now I need him to see the benefits of solo time and for me to have the patience to help him work through it.

Day 13 practice of yoga will be spending 5 minutes in Anjali Mudra showing reverence to myself and respecting my son’s journey.

Do you prefer to be with someone else or alone when you workout?

What about other times? What are alone activities for you?

Are your kids good at playing together and alone?

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