Moms are busy!
Moms are busy. I get it. I really do — I had my son in July, and now that I have two kids, the newest one being a wee bit on the I-need-mommy-at-all-times-side, I barely find time to run a comb through my hair and brush my teeth. But something that I am adamant about making time for is a daily yoga routine. It is SO beneficial to moms who find themselves constantly on-the-go, constantly needed by someone, or who just find that they are doing things for everyone but themselves on a day to day basis. Stress is a major part of many moms’ lives, and it is also a major factor in many illnesses. We can’t afford to be stressed-out basket cases because our health depends on it. As someone who has struggled with anxiety for several years now, I know the toll it can take on your body, and I know that finding time to do something calming and grounding such as yoga is an essential part of a mom’s day.
Take care of yourself first
Many mothers can feel that they’re too busy to take half an hour a day to do something as “selfish” as yoga. I know I felt that way. How could I lay on a yoga mat and shut my mind off while I needed to put laundry away, do a craft with my daughter, sweep the frighteningly dirty floor, get dinner started and lovingly make a healthy treat for school snack? Then I realized the toll that this constant stress was taking on me. My mind NEVER stopped. I never felt relaxed. I was continually criticizing myself about the things I wasn’t achieving as a mother and wracking my brain over what I should be doing. This is a dangerous and unhealthy frame of mind to be in.
Being a martyr is NOT going to help you become the person and the mother you want to be — taking the time to breathe, to have your own space and to let your mind and body recharge is. I realized this all to late after I started dealing with nearly daily anxiety and panic attacks, and that’s when I knew I needed to change.
Yoga can be a spiritual practice, but if you’re not into that sort of thing then it is a great tool to help you relieve any tension within your body (lugging my 22 pound 9-month-old around all day can cause quite the sore back, I have noticed!) and give you that much-needed half an hour (or more if you can swing it!) break from the daily grind. Here’s a couple helpful hints for getting yourself on the yoga train:
Choose a time of day
Whether it is morning, night, mid-day or afternoon, there is never a bad time to do yoga. It all depends on what works for you and your schedule. I prefer to do yoga at night before bed because it helps me sleep well, it’s a nice way to wind down my day, and that’s when it fits into my schedule. If you’re an early riser, yoga in the morning before the kids wake up can be a really wonderful way to start the day and feel refreshed. If you need a pick-me-up in the middle of the day, a quick yoga session can be a great way to recharge instead of downing that third cup of coffee. Choose a time of day that you know you can fit it in without having your kids jumping all over you (sometimes this is unavoidable!) and when you can be distraction-free. You want to be able to let go and focus on yourself.
Set the mood
If I hurriedly throw out my yoga mat and do yoga in my ratty old pajama pants amidst a sea of kids toys, I do not get the same effect as if I had taken the time to set up my space for a relaxing yoga session. I have a designated spot in my home for yoga, and I set it up the same every time — clear my space of any clutter or toys, make sure I have a big bottle of water, dim the lights, turn on some very zen music, light a candle or two or get my diffuser going with some relaxing essential oils, and put on my comfiest yoga gear that allows me to move my body in the ways I need to. When I create a relaxing atmosphere for myself I know I can truly let myself wind down and turn off my brain. If my living room is a disaster and I have all of the harsh, bright lights on, I’m not going to be able to unwind and enjoy yoga.
Need direction? Youtube it up!
I’ve dabbled in yoga for a few years now and regularly did prenatal yoga at our local yoga studio — so I have a set routine down with my favourite poses that help me relax before bed. But if you’re not up on your yoga poses or just prefer a guided session, do a quick search on youtube for some videos of what you’re looking for! Bedtime yoga, relaxing yoga, yoga for back pain, etc. are all great keywords that will help you bring up the type of yoga routine that you need at the time. If you want to be a bit more indulgent, you could sign up for a one-on-one Skype yoga session with Om Mom and have a yoga-studio-style session with highly trained teachers without leaving your own home!
Make sure your family members honor your me time
My kids, especially my nine month old son, do not understand why I need me time. They’re kids, it’s not something they can compute yet! But I need it for myself and so I can function as well as possible as my own person and as a mother. I am always gently reiterating to them that it’s important to me. This is why I like to do yoga either when they are asleep or when my husband is home so I can enlist him to round up the troops and take them outside to play or at least go in the other room so I can do yoga without having them swarm me while I’m trying to enjoy a relaxing savasana. A moms job is 24/7, and I don’t know anyone who can continually work the way moms work without taking a bit of time for themselves to regroup. Your family members should support you and know that a happy, relaxed mom makes for a happy, relaxed family.
Yoga is something that anyone can do, even if you are starting completely from scratch. It’s a time where you don’t need to think about ANYTHING — just let any thoughts that may come to mind float away. You shouldn’t be thinking about what’s for dinner, what you’re going to wear to drop the kids off at school tomorrow, what time you have to take your daughter to gymnastics — you should only be focused on your body, your breathing, and relaxing. Yoga has proven to be beneficial for fighting the daily stress our lives bring, and it can also aide in any problem areas you need to fix — flexibility, anxiety, depression, arthritis — and the list goes on. I for one can vouch for the benefits as I have seen a huge decrease in my stress level and anxiety.
Moms matter. Moms are important. And moms are only human. Take at least half an hour a day to be “selfish” — your family and your health will thank you!