Sarah Ezrin, THE YOGA OF PARENTING: Ten Yoga-Based Practices to Help You Stay Grounded, Connect with Your Kids, and Be Kind to Yourself

Sarah Ezrin, THE YOGA OF PARENTING: Ten Yoga-Based Practices to Help You Stay Grounded, Connect with Your Kids, and Be Kind to Yourself

Guest host Julie Chavez is joined by world-renowned yoga educator and author Sarah Ezrin to discuss her debut book, The Yoga of Parenting: Ten Yoga-Based Practices to Help You Stay Grounded, Connect with Your Kids, and Be Kind to Yourself. Sarah describes her tumultuous and exciting writing and publishing journey, starting with getting her book deal the same week she got pregnant. She also talks about her childhood, her need to control everything after growing up with alcoholics and addicts in her household, and what it’s been like to slowly let go and start to trust, especially in her parenting.


Julie Chavez: Sarah, welcome to “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.” I’m so happy you’re here today.

Sarah Ezrin: I’m so happy. Thank you for you, Julie. Thank you for Zibby for having me. It is an honor to be here in this crew. I love all of your friendships and the circle of writers that is Zibby Books. It’s always an honor to be involved in any way I can.

Julie: Yay. Yes, it is a pretty good girl gang at the moment. Maybe there’ll be some men in there eventually. It’s a gift. It’s so fun. We are here today, we’re talking about your book, The Yoga of Parenting: Ten Yoga-Based Practices to Help You Stay Grounded, Connect with Your Kids, and Be Kind to Yourself. I love the design of the book. Honestly, I’m such a “judge a book by its cover” person, which I’m sure is terrible. I love the design of this. Honestly, when I read the description and the introduction, I just exhaled. This book has such a beautiful tone to it. I think you did such a wonderful job with the way that you designed it and the way that it feels. Congratulations. I’m so glad it’s out in the world.

Sarah: Thank you. That’s very sweet. I wish I could take credit for the design. As a first-time writer, I was given three samples. Let’s be real. It was like, the yoga pose will be up in this corner or down in this corner. It will be pink, or it will be this. I did send them some of my mood boards, if you will. You know what? It’s kind of amazing. You know, you’ve got your book coming out soon too. How the book — what it originally was versus what it became and then how it came back to it and even that subtitle, which was the bane of my existence — literally, it tortured me at night. I would have nightmares. Then when we figured it out, it was like, oh, this is it. It was light bulbs. For all the listening writers out there that are struggling with a cover or subtitle, trust the process. That’s my advice. Sometimes the universe, it’s manifesting it in the perfect way. Thank you.

Julie: You are totally speaking to my heart there because I can’t tell you how many times I have woken up in the middle of the night thinking about some random detail. Also, I’ve been in subtitle hell. It’s not a place I want to go to anytime soon. There is nothing that you can grind like that where you’re just — you could think about it for years. It’s the worst.

Sarah: My editor was literally like — I’m a first-time author as well. She was like, “Some subtitles are easy, and some are just .” That was all she sent me. I’m like, okay, so I’m assuming I’m the latter. Then I would get, it was thirty different — it would be a sentence, but then there’d be a slash. It’s like, a way to be kind/compassion/caring. Insert this word here. It was like a maddening Mad Libs. Then we got it. We got it. When it hit, it really hit. It was like, this is everything it was meant to be.

Julie: I found it. Because it’s your first rodeo and all these things, how was that process for you? I feel like sometimes the details, like the subtitle — nobody in your life, at least in my experience, cares an iota as much as you care and the team cares about what you’re doing. My husband’s like, “I really don’t want to talk about this anymore with you.” How did you find that for you? This is your first book. How did you find that process? Did it feel lonely? Did it feel okay? Was it all of it? What was that experience like?

Sarah: The very first thing I did before I even wrote the book when I decided, it’s time, it’s finally time to write a book — I’d been wanting to write. Literally, I’ve been writing books that were teen thrillers when I was sixteen. Not even. I was definitely not writing at sixteen. I was probably twelve writing about sixteen-year-olds. I’d been writing for different outlets and publications. When it came time to actually write the book, the idea for the book came from this idea and energy of collaboration. It was born out of — I have been so hyper-independent my whole life. I’m like, you can do this alone. It was really becoming a mother for the first time with my first son that I realized, no, you can’t do anything alone. If I’m going to write a book, oh, I need other moms. I need other parents. That’s how I’m going to write it. Before I even began, I went to every single person I ever met in my life that had ever written a book or was involved in publishing somehow. Jen, who wrote my forward, was obviously one of my most successful friends. I was like, what do I do? Where do I begin? I called everybody and everything. Not that I knew about certain steps along the way, but some of the process was revealed to me. Also, my sister used to be in publishing many lifetimes ago. She worked for Penguin when it was Penguin Putnam. She was a little bit helpful. Again, it’s the same thing with the — your closest family doesn’t care. They don’t want to read another version of your manuscript. Immediate family-wise, no expectations that they have any interest. Do you follow Sara Petersen who writes In Pursuit of Clean Countertops? She’s a Substack writer. She’s a journalist.

Julie: Yes, I was just turned onto her recently. I do follow her.

Sarah: She’s phenomenal. Everybody, please immediately go follow her. She wrote Momfluenced. She did an autopsy of what it’s been like a month after writing the book. Then she’s like, to everybody in the world, it’s just a book, but to you, it’s like you’ve climbed Mount Everest. It’s the pinnacle. It’s everything. I wanted to tell the cashier at the supermarket. I’m like, I wrote a book. Just someone random walking by. No. Immediate family could care less. Go to other authors for that support. They are the ones that are going to be there with you. Have an author that you can text whose book is also coming out around the same time that you can panic-text and be like, I can’t believe this is happening. Why is this happening? It’s an interesting process, isn’t it, the writing? You’re alone for so much of it. Then there’s so much that’s collaboration. It’s been a very long and interesting journey.

Julie: It’s so true. I’m glad you had some vision into it beforehand. I feel like I skipped into the whole situation just bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. This is going to be great, which it is. It’s great, and it’s also this crazy — you just don’t know what you don’t know until you’re in it. Then all of a sudden, it’s trying to keep your — I’m sure for you, it was all calm and collected because you were just practicing yoga the whole time. Of course.

Sarah: That’s what the book’s about, right? You buy my book, and you’ll be totally calm too. Heck no. Oh, my goodness, no. No, no, no. First of all, I signed my book deal, and I got pregnant within the same week. My book was due when my second son was due. I was like, this is not good timing. It was kind of like, oh, okay, let’s try. Let’s see what happens. Somehow, it was due in April. He was due in April. Then I had an HG pregnancy, which is hyperemesis gravidarum, which means you’re basically vomiting or nauseous all day long the entire pregnancy. I was hospitalized twice with it. For some reason, in the morning between five AM and seven AM, most mornings, not every morning, but many mornings, I felt okay. It was the one time of day that I could get up. Maybe it was just adrenaline. I somehow managed to write and do my edits. Then the rest of the day would be me either lying down for most of the day or just dragging myself through playgrounds with my toddler, who was young at the time still, two and a half. There was all these other psychological layers that were going on too. It was an interesting process, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Julie: Sometimes I think, too, especially when you’re writing a book like this, when you are in the fire of it — when I was talking about the design of your book, it’s very calming and beautiful, which it is, but the tone of your writing is what really makes this book a gift. I think it’s going to be such a valuable resource for all parents and also even parents of older kids. I think there are principles in this book that would also apply to people that don’t have biological children because we’re all mothering and fathering and caring for people in so many ways. All that to say, I think that sometimes you get that tone because you are truly in it. You were really having, probably, I’m imagining, to cling to the things you knew to be true to pull you through that time and to get through that because that’s so stressful. Also, just being pregnant the second time is such a different experience anyway. The first time, you’re like, it’s special and unique and cute.

Sarah: Then the second time, no. I did three maternity shoots with my first one. The second one, I still am deleting content. There was pictures of me in my husband’s sweatshirt, the same sweatpants I’d been wearing for days, rings around my eyes because I was so dehydrated. Maybe that’s what you’re sensing in the book. I wanted a book that gave permission. I was so tired while writing it. I was like, you can try this or not, or just don’t do it. Figure it out on your own. That’s basically what the book is in a very loving and yogic way. That is the path. The path really is about finding your own intuition and listening to your inner needs and listening to what your deeper calls are. Sometimes it’s those moments. It’s often pregnancy or early days of postpartum where it cuts through all the noise. You don’t even have the energy to people-please or to push yourself. You get super clear on what it is that you need. That is what the yoga practice provides us, but without having to be one of those gauntlet moments. It could just be a Saturday, and you could tap into your intuition.

Julie: Yes, you could tap into it without all the suffering, but sometimes that’s just the way it rolls. You’re exactly right. I love that you’re saying that, though, the permission of it. You could try this, or you don’t have to. I think what you say here, too, though, is that you already have everything you need. That’s such a freeing message for people. Parenting, it’s a wonderful gift. It’s a wild ride. It’s all of these things, but it is so extreme. Then we live in a culture and a time where there’s so much information. Especially if you’re at all an achiever or someone who’s trying to do things the right way, and I fall into that category, it can be a really toxic situation because you’re just always taking in, always putting pressure to do more, as opposed to what you’re really talking about here, which is, you have what you need. You just have to be connected to it.

Sarah: And connected to your kids too as opposed to looking at all these third parties for these answers, which is understandable when you’re a new parent and, like you said, an A type or a people-pleaser. Again, I’m speaking from my own — this is about me being highly anxious and always wanting to make sure I’m doing the right thing. You’re constantly looking out of yourself for those answers, whether that’s other parenting books or what you see modeled in the media, which we know is mostly curated, or your in-laws. My mom passed, but I imagine I would feel pressure from her if she was around and had an opinion about something because you put your own parent on a pedestal. At the end of the day when we get quiet, we know the answer. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes when there is no solution, there’s no solution. That’s usually the time that you need to sit with it even longer and obviously, go to experts to get guidance and to get clear. The solution will arise. It will start to show itself to you. That’s just that continual connection to yourself, to your breath, to your kid, to the moment, to get clear on, okay, what is needed right now as a family? As opposed to, what does the world want from me right now?

Julie: Let’s back up a little bit and talk about — you had always wanted to write a book. You were graduating, obviously, from the teen thrillers that you were writing in a journal somewhere, I’m sure. When you came to this, how did you choose to write about the yoga of parenting as opposed to the yoga of something else in our lives? What was the source for you there?

Sarah: It was a random shower moment, believe it or not, which sounds so cliché. I’d always had the goal to write a book, as I said, but I think my ego was leading the goal as opposed to my experience. When I first started to teach yoga, I was like, I’m going to be on the cover of a magazine. I’m going to write a book. That’s what the superstar teachers were doing that were paving the way for us newer teachers. It was always a goal because it seemed like that’s what you had to do. Then obviously, many years went by, many no-show classes, and really wild retreats and really amazing relationships and classes of hundreds of people. All this time went by teaching all these different people and seeing all the people come in and out of my classes. My last mentorship group when I was in LA was mostly parents. I remember I was leading a business of yoga lecture with them. I was like, what gets you out of bed in the morning? I was thinking the answer was going to be, teaching my students. Everybody was talking about their kids.

It didn’t fully click for me. I wasn’t really ready to admit that I wanted to have kids. I’d had a lot of loss. It just wasn’t matching. It wasn’t matching for a long time. Then when I got pregnant, it’s just one of those things. It goes back to finding the right book cover or the right subtitle. These things happen in your life, and it’s like all the paths tend to open. My last day before I left for maternity leave, a student said — she was crying. “Everything you say to us on the mat, you’re going to impart in your parenting.” I didn’t really understand it at the time. It was still very disconnected. I was still thinking career means A-type yoga. Write an anatomy book or something. Write about the business of yoga. None of it was convalescing yet until I had a really intense postpartum period with my first. Then we all went into COVID. Things just got so challenging that I realized, oh, my gosh, it’s the bridging together of these two things. That’s what’s missing. It was just this aha moment. I’m like, where is the yoga of parenting?

Julie: You share in the book early on that your childhood had some stresses and challenges and that there was addiction and alcoholism that was happening around you. When you became a parent, has that come up for you in ways? How has that time in your life and your childhood shaped where you are now as a parent?

Sarah: I am coming up on my two-year anniversary of being an Al-Anon member. Al-Anon is for children, family, friends, spouses of alcoholics. That was because one of my family members had a relapse. It reignited me going into doing the work on my own. That has been incredibly informative on my parenting because so much of Al-Anon is holding the space, loving your loved ones, but also giving them the dignity of their own experience and trusting that they are on their own path. As a mom, that’s so much of those lessons. Obviously, it’s very different when you’re talking about someone’s addiction and trusting that they’re going to hit bottom or they’re going to have the experience they’re going to have. It’s very different than my toddler scaling a wall, but there are similarities to that, which is, be the boundary. Be there on the side. Be there with love. Be ready to step in if absolutely necessary. Also at the same time, leave them space to live their lives.

As someone that grew up in a household with alcoholics and addicts, I try to control everything. Everything was so uncertain and out of control that my disease, my addiction, if you will, is that I need to control everything. That includes what my kids are wearing, what they’re eating, where they’re going, who they’re talking to, my life entirely, when I’m going to write my book, when I’m going to do this. I was controlling my career before I’d even taught an actual yoga class. That has been the most freeing process for me because it’s just this idea — I know surrender gets considered a bad word sometimes, but it is. It’s a letting go and a trusting. I’m not turning my back on anything. It’s just simply stepping back with my arms open so that I’m there if necessary. That’s been incredibly healing for both my relationship with my family members, but also, it’s been a really cool approach to my parenting too.

Julie: That is beautiful to hear. I also am a control addict, for sure. I will say that that is one of the great things and the hard things, obviously, about watching the kids grow. Mine are teenagers now. You really do have a sense of, you do not belong to me. You are not mine to keep in that way. How do I allow you to walk your path and not make it about me? There’s just so much that’s tangled there. It sounds like you’ve done a lot of work toward untangling those and that that benefits your parenting too.

Sarah: Let’s talk in ten years when they are getting into cars and starting to drive. I hope I’ll just continue to work that program and continue to do the work on my own and trust what I can. The other thing is that my husband’s side has a lot of addicts and alcoholics too, so it’s going to be a conversation we’re going to have to have with our kids quite early. Many people in my family are very open with their recovery, thankfully. A lot of people in my husband’s family are as well. It informs our everyday. We see it in our own behaviors. I, of course, am trying not to project it on my one-year-old. I’m like, he’s addicted to my boob. It’s like, no. You have no idea. If I give him this, then he’s always going to seek the quick response. If I give him Tylenol right now when he has his tooth hurt, does that mean he’s going to go for medication? It’s always kind of there in my brain. The reality is paths have so many different forks and directions that they can go. I just have to trust that I am walking side by side with them to a point. Then at a certain point, like you said, they’re going to have to take their own path. I will continue walking near them, by them. I’m there if they need me, but I have to trust that they’re on their own path. Thank goodness for programs like Al-Anon, therapy, all those things to help with that.

Julie: I love what you talk about here about the connection, that we can take ourselves out of the mix and be more connected to our kids. You did a beautiful job of expressing that. Tell me this.

Sarah: Real quick. We also have to honor the disconnection too. You can’t be connected twenty-four/seven. It’s an impossibility. You need to have your own role as a human being and as an individual. That’s the beauty of the yoga lessons. We get to feel both how interconnected and interdependent we all are, but at the same time, honor who we are as individuals. Yes, there is that deep connection, but it’s also important to disconnect at times too.

Julie: I’m glad that you’re saying that. I’m thinking back to what I just said. It really did sound like I am a stalker parent. You’re exactly right. It’s true. That was a pitfall for me. They’re not my products. They’re not who I am. They’re not everything. I have to be a full person myself in order to have that connection with them. Otherwise, I’m looking to them for that kind of affirmation. I don’t ever want my stuff to be their problem. You’re right. That’s a very good point. I know for me, with the control aspect, the disconnection can be hard too. Accepting that there will be times of disconnection, I’m not great with that. I’ll just jot that down to talk to my therapist about, Kim. She’s lovely.

Sarah: As we’re talking about this, my baby just woke up in the back room. I know my husband has him, but everything inside of me wants to check the Nanit and see. You want to be controlling. Is he okay? Is everything okay? That’s just in the simplest of ways. It’s okay. Now just for this example, they’re going to have this wonderful bonding time together for that half hour or however long. I went recently with just the baby and left my toddler and my husband at home. That was very challenging, not being here in the day-to-day. At the same time, again, that disconnection, it made my relationship with my toddler that much stronger. I came home, and we were just so much more appreciative. Him and his dad got to bond in these really beautiful ways. Those are even simple disconnections. We’re not even talking about getting into a fight and having that disconnection, which can then also bring you closer together. It’s that ebb and flow again. It’s, connect/disconnect or disconnect/connect, expand/contract. It’s all just that living, breathing thing that is being in relationship and living in this world.

Julie: You talk about, a little bit later in the book, the push and the striving and that you had a teacher that talked about pulling back twenty percent. I loved that in relation to that parenting, just like you’re saying, where we’re sort of trying too hard to control it, to be there, to connect. Then your sensitivity is dulled because your effort is so intense. There are hundreds of nuggets like that in this book that I will be going back to even as a parent of teens, and especially as a parent of teens because, talk about a game of connect and disconnect. You cannot force them to want to get in it with you. The disconnects are just definitely different, so having some perspective on that and having some calm of, okay, I’m going to walk away and then trust that I will be able to come back to this and what we’ve built is still there.

Sarah: That’s that underlying thread. I do want to say real quick, because you live in the East Bay, that it’s my teacher Annie Carpenter who is East Bay based and is amazing. That’s what she was saying. What we say in the book and what I quoted her on is that she talks about doing eighty percent. She’s another 275,000 percent kind of person. What happens if you pull back even just twenty percent? That’s the thing with the disconnection. I think people misinterpret it as detachment. You can detach with love. How do you pull back enough to leave space for people to have their experience to grow and expand in? I kept thinking, when you were saying when you’re too connected, there’s no air to breathe. You’re on top of something. If you were on top of a flower — I don’t garden. My husband will come in and correct us in five seconds. He’s like, please don’t use that metaphor. If you’re on top of something, I imagine it can’t really grow and breathe. You have to leave the space for it to do so.

Julie: Yes. I love to suffocate things with over-presence and over-conversation. It’s great. My husband loves it. Our last question. What’s your greatest hope for the book?

Sarah: I just want more parents to feel good about themselves when they’re reading a parenting book. I want there to be a resource out there that will make you realize, A, you’re already doing a great job, and B, there is no perfect parent. There is no manual. Again, these are just these lines for you to color within to find the design that you need for you. If we can help a few parents out there and inspire some people to be nicer to themselves along the way and take ownership over their needs, then think about the impacts that’s going to have on the children, and then on and on you go.

Julie: What a gift. I am so thankful, truly, that I got to talk to you today. I’m so happy I was the one to interview you because this has been a gift for me. I have no doubt that this book and that the conversation will be a gift to so many parents out there. Congratulations. You have a book in the world. I can’t wait for more people to get their hands on it. Thanks for being here today.

Sarah: Thank you. Thank you, Julie. Thank you, Zibby, for having me, and the whole “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books” crew and podcast and listeners. I’m really honored anytime I get to participate in these kind of things with Zibby. Thank you.

Julie: Absolutely.

THE YOGA OF PARENTING: Ten Yoga-Based Practices to Help You Stay Grounded, Connect with Your Kids, and Be Kind to Yourself by Sarah Ezrin

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