My Better Version – Mindfulness for Parents with Tatyana Souza (Episode 193)
Do you feel you are really representing the best version of who you are? Are you connecting to your family from a place of fulfillment, knowing you are taking care of yourself along the way? Are you setting the example for mindfulness and self-care that you want your children to emulate?
Inspired by yoga training and by her two boys, yogi Tatyana Souza left her career in the pharmaceutical industry as an Immunologist to co-found Coolidge Yoga in Brookline and in the Boston South End. I sat down with Tatyana and talked about her journey through mindfulness and all she has to support you in your journey.
Here is our full video interview. Or, grab the highlights of what we discussed in the blog below!
Who is Tatyana Souza?
Tatyana is a mama to two boys, age 9 and 13. She lives in Boston now, after coming from the Ukraine over 30 years ago. She runs a yoga studio and teaches yoga and meditation classes.
As a doctor of immunology with a scientific research background with pharmaceuticals, she thought she wanted to help people by making medicine.
However, through her own journey, she realized she would rather focus on preventative mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation. As she personally experienced the benefits of these practices, she saw just how well they could work for others.
But I Have Young Kids
Yes, we need our “zen” moments most often when we are overwhelmed...yet if we’re overwhelmed, that last thing we’re feeling is “zen”! Especially when you have a new baby, you’re sleep-deprived.
Yet, just like my own inspiration for starting Mama Says Namaste, Tatyana knew it was critical to enforce some preventative mindfulness practices. We talked in the interview about how, it’s not that we get it perfect, but that in sharing the inspiration with others, it helps to create accountability for ourselves. When you speak up about something from a place of leadership, it’s imperative that you practice what you preach.
So, much like what I did with openly sharing my insights into intentional motherhood with all of you (for your benefit and to keep myself accountable to being the mama I wanted to be), Tatyana started focusing on mindfulness, and especially, yoga.
The Beauty of Alone Time
Tatyana shares in the interview about how valuable “alone time” is for a new mama. As she explored going to yoga for the first time when she was pregnant, she embarked on a journey of learning about herself and her body and getting to a deeper connection. Once the baby was born, getting back to that class and taking that hour to herself was so valuable.
“So that beauty of taking that hour for yourself and for me was my yoga mat. And coming back to the community that I had established before having the baby, I remember so clearly, this is when I can feel like myself again. This is just me. I'm not somebody else's mom. I'm just me.”
There is a powerful shift when you know you have time to intentionally recharge. It’s not like adding mindfulness to your life will mean that your infant for sleep all night or your toddler won’t ever have another meltdown. But knowing you have blocked off time to recharge can be a great motivator to keep you going when you are at your max.
Like Tatyana said, it can be a game-changer.
"I remember feeling so distinctly like, Oh, another night of not sleeping. I’ve got this. Just from taking that one class a week, it was my recharge. It was huge. That was the start. That was the seed. "
Guilt and Quality Time
We all know the “mom guilt” - the guilt of thinking it should only be YOU loving on and caring for your baby. However, how great of a mom are you when you’re maxed out, sleep deprived, and stressed?
Think about quality vs. quantity. Are you really showing up for your child if you’re distracted with to-dos? Are you really safe to be on the road and do that playdate when you haven’t slept in a week? Are you really loving your child well when you’re so irritable and have a short patience fuse? Think about how you are in the midst of chaos and drama vs. who are you when you walk in after time at a spa.
When we have guilt over time away from our children, we need a quick reality check on who we actually are when we’re with them. Our children bearing the brunt of our exhaustion, tension and stress is not serving them well. Them seeing you as an example of burnout is not serving them well.
It is better to spend 30 minutes recharging and
coming energized to your family than to spend 2 hours “tolerating” them.
Don't Wait For One Day
One day, you’ll have the bandwidth to devote to your children. One day, you’ll spend the day playing and creating with them. One day, you’ll have all of those to-dos knocked out so you can actually enjoy life.
Author Seth Godin says, “instead of wondering when your next vacation will be, why not create a life you don’t want to escape from?”
There are no rollover minutes in life. Don’t just muscle through, thinking “one day” you will enjoy it. If you don’t get intentional about finding those moments of joy now, don’t think they will just stock up and be easier later.
When we put off “one day”, we put relationships on hold. We don’t prioritize our health/wellness. We start to live in such a way that we’re “making do” now so we can enjoy later. Yet, unfortunately, I’ve seen time and time again that this is a great way to sabotage any opportunity for making things happen.
By the time “one day” rolls around, relationships have been strained while they wait around for you to give them attention. Maybe your health has been pushed on the back burner so much that, when you want to do something active, you no longer physically can much less have the energy for it. Maybe you realize a little too late that all the money in the world won’t replace the loss you feel when your loved ones have moved on and no longer have created the space for your relationship.
Don't Get Stuck As A Martyr
It takes time to rewire your brain if you’ve been living in “martyr-mode”. If you really look at the definition of being a martyr, one definition is this: “a person who displays or exaggerates their discomfort or distress in order to obtain sympathy or admiration.”
So are you wearing your “busy” as a badge of honor? Are you just living in your distress and discomfort so that it has become a core identity piece of who you are? How would your children describe you? Your partner? Are you relaxed, happy and ready to take anything on? Are you hanging by a string?
How much better can you show up - for yourself, for your family and beyond - if you prioritize what you need to recharge?
Flip the Script
If I leave my children with a sitter, I’m saying I don’t want to step up as a mother.
Wow - every time away is only because you are checking out on motherhood? Last I checked, once you’re a parent, you’re a parent for the rest of your life. For as long as I’m alive, a piece of my heart will always be wrapped in my children’s lives. How I play that role will definitely change as we grow through different seasons, but parenthood is a 24/7 role. We don’t feel guilty about putting our children to bed and taking that time off to sleep because we understand that it’s necessary.
When you start to recognize how much of a better person you are when you take care of yourself, instead of seeing that intentional time you’re taking for yourself as taking away from your children, you start to see it in a new way.
Just like you’re supposed to put the oxygen mask on yourself first so you can help more people, taking the time to recharge allows you to go longer when you are fully present.
I’m giving my children and opportunity to have another adult love and care for them, and I’m taking the time to give myself the fuel to pick back up and be fully present when I return.
When you start to see what value you bring by taking care of yourself, you start to see how you can’t afford NOT to prioritize that time.
It's a mental reset. It's like having that frame shift in your mind that I'm a better version of myself after I refill my cup. I want to be healthy for my children. As they get older, I want to be healthy for my grandchildren. Prioritizing my own health and well-being is in service of my family.
If you’re struggling with boundaries, one of the best things to keep in mind is that it’s hard to set a boundary on something you don’t fully believe in. The mindset has to happen first. If you don’t believe you deserve this time, or if you don’t believe it’s helpful, it’s going to be hard to make it a priority in your life.
Recognize your impact. You are making an impression on everyone around you. Are you sending off the energy that you are drained, negative, overwhelmed and stressed? What impression do others have of you? If it’s way different than you intended...pay attention to what your impact is. Your impact is setting the impression for who you are and what people will expect from you.
We all have the same number of hours in our day. What are you prioritizing? Where you spend your time is a good reflection of your priorities.
Remember the Value:
What all is creating a ripple effect beyond you? Once you realize no one is handing you that extra time on a silver platter, you’re going to have to figure out how you’ll prioritize it. Yes, it doesn’t just come out of the blue. You have to create and prioritize this time. You have to make room for it in your life, and you aren’t going to do that unless you are real clear on WHY.
When I make space for myself, I can get to know myself better (and thus better support myself).
When I prioritize my time, I’m able to ensure the top things get accomplished.
When I add in self-care, I am more recharged, energized, and ready to take on the day.
When I take care of myself, I become a better version of me. That also makes me...a better partner. A better parent. A better person.
When your family starts to benefit from the fruit of your self care, experiencing a you that is recharged and in tune with what helps you be your best self, you may find more support than you expect.
When you have the support and backing because you come back a better and more refreshed person from it, it's definitely easier to keep on going.
Make It A Habit
In the beginning, it may be important to create that time and get serious about upholding it regardless of whether your family understands it. The more you can identify and convey to your family the positive impact this time gives you, the more your family is able to back you up on this.
Keep in mind your approach. If this is all about me-me-me you may be going to the other end of the pendulum. If your family doesn’t value or understand something like yoga, it’s going to be hard to gather their support. As you educate yourself on what is working for you, be sure to share, also, with your family.
Yes, there is an adjustment period. Maybe your family isn't fully supportive at first because they don't recognize or see the value. They just see that you're leaving. I know how hard that can be for the guilt card. This is why you have got to be solid on your own why as to why it’s important, and how you can best show them by example. As they see you shift and come to them from more and more positive places, you can share with them the journey. Yes, even a 2-year-old can notice a shift in a parent from chaotic to peaceful.
The Ebb and Flow
Don’t take on a practice that has to become your next ten year commitment. Especially with a growing family, there are many, many things that can - and will - derail you and set you back. The more schedules and individuals you’re navigating in your family, the more potential for curveballs that can set you off course. It’s not about being so dogmatic that you cannot budge.
It’s about recognizing this is a priority to come back to no matter how many times you fall off this horse. When you get intentional about prioritizing self-care, the beauty is, it creates that “muscle memory” response where it’s easier to get back into it later.
Just like riding a bike - once you learn, you know...so even if you don’t ride a bike for ten years, you may be rusty and need to practice, but you aren’t starting from square one anymore.
What Is Your Chosen Practice?
Tatyana shares a lot about yoga and meditation, as these are a big part of what recharges her. As she says, yoga is her chosen practice. For some of you, that will resonate. For others, you may find a variety of ways to recharge. Maybe it’s biking, running, swimming, knitting, napping, creating… What is your chosen practice? I’ve personally found a variety I pull from - yoga, doing henna, meditation, walking, cross-stitch, embroidery, writing, doing crafty things, and painting.
What Is Embodiment?
The key for what fuels you is whether you can become “embodied” in it. I looked up the definition of this, and it says, “a tangible or visible form of an idea, quality, or feeling.” Think about that visual - when you are feeling the most zen, you physically embody that peaceful feeling and it permeates beyond you. So think about those things you get lost in - where you are so wrapped up in the moment - in the breath-work, the calm, the feelings of relaxation - that it becomes a part of your being.
When you can step out of the mental chatter and fully be present in the moment, this is embodiment.
When you can focus your brain on a specific task that fuels you, you don’t allow for the opportunity for it to do its regular churning. So in yoga practice, just like with any mindfulness practice, you're focusing on the physical postures, and they're complicated enough. And if they're taught well enough, your brain can't focus on anything else as your body/mind/soul has to embrace each yogi position. If you’re doing a breath-based flow, you’re linking the breath to the movement. This gets you into the flow. When you are in that flow state, you’re totally embodied in the movement. You get lost in the moment of what you’re doing and everything else is just gone.
How do You Know It Works?
The key sign is how you feel afterward. Do you feel replenished? It can literally feel like your cup has just been filled.
If you have a busy mind like mine that seems to constantly be going, it may be that you need some extra support.
Getting a personal trainer, doing guided meditations, going to a yoga class, getting a running partner - these are all ways to help you not only stay on track and focused, but accountability to ensure you keep it up.
Coolidge Yoga Studio
Due to the pandemic, Tatyana was forced to pivot a bit and look for other ways to offer support for her community, and, like many, she went online. Now, they have some wonderful options to share with you. They have guided yoga and meditations from 30-90 minutes, from nature relaxation ones to powerful Vinyasa flows.
Remember how much time we can eat up just watching a screen. Think of how long a show is. How about a movie? How many times have you set aside time to watch a screen?
21 Day Breath-work and Meditation Program
Join Tatyana Souza on this 21-day excursion to recommit to your meditation practice and explore the grounding wonders of breath-work. Tune-in each day for a 15-minute practice and learn from the ground up. We will explore a variety of meditation positions, use of props to set up for success, breath awareness, and breath techniques to hone the mind for a more focused meditation. Repetition breeds success, and each day we will build and expand upon the previous. Leave each session feeling grounded, more in-tune with your inner wisdom, and with more clarity for the day ahead.
Your Children Are Watching
Recognize they're watching you whether you like it or not. I often tell people freaking out about teaching their children, your children are already learning from you. You can let it happen through reaction or get intentional with it.
So what are they watching? And are you reflecting the person you want them to be? Or just like we talked about in our last few episodes, are you feeling stuck or feeling too “busy”? And are you wearing busy-ness as your badge of honor? Is that what you really want to portray to your children? Is that the legacy you want to pass on to your children? Referring back to the series that we just did on the “birds and the bees” and understanding your sexual legacy, these conversations around self-care are very much a critical component of that.
If you're not able to sit with who you are; if you don't want to experience anything within your own body, that's the example you're also passing on to your children.
There is so much value in you recognizing who you are and the beauty you personally bring. That beauty is part of what brought this child into this world. And, I'm saying bloodline or not. Even an adopted child is only there in your life because of you stepping up and choosing that. When you choose to be a parent, you will forever be their first example of how to live life. Are you an example of a thriving life, or muscling through it?
Your challenge this week is to not only make space for mindfulness for you this week, but educate your family on your insights. What is helpful? Why? Why is it important to you?
When you create positivity around this and the importance of it in your life, you’ll create a reinforcement cycle that will feed itself!
A tip for you - set your rudder for the day - start your self-care first thing in the morning and see how it impacts your approach throughout the rest of the day.
For those of you parents with brand new infants. They're not infants forever. And one day they will actually go to the bathroom in the toilet on their own. Those are some big things. And every milestone is a new season of life that you are in. I’m currently celebrating the “golden years” of childhood, where they are independent enough to do so much on their own, yet young enough to still open up to a snuggle.
If you're in a season of stress and overwhelm...remember, it's a season. There are still mindfulness opportunities for you, even if it's just starting with 10 minutes a day and seeing how much that opens the door and then becomes your 30 minutes of consistency.
As we look inward, we can assess our strengths, what triggers us, how we’re motivated, and more. You’re able to come to your family more energized as you’ve learned to recognize and respond to the needs you have yourself. It's amazing how eye opening it can be in your level of awareness for others simply by tuning more into yourself. And, you can see how the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.
Dig Deeper with These Posts and Episodes:
- Get the Free Family Vision Email Series Here
- Do You Have a FULL Life…or Simply A Busy One? (Episode 191)
- What’s Left Unsaid – Nonverbal Cues (Episode 192)
- Drama Doesn’t Make An Appointment (Episode 190)
- 3 Reasons You’re Feeling Stuck (Episode 189)
- Creating Sexual Legacy – How to talk to your kids about the Birds and the Bees: Part 3 (Episode 184)
- The Only Advice New Parents Need To Know (Episode 59)
- Have Life Seasons Got You Stuck In A Funk? (Episode 179)
- Awareness At Home
- What are your behavior defaults, and those of others in your home?
- What Is A DISC Personality Assessment?
- Coaching with Ashley