We are so excited to share the following post from Giselle Shardlow. Giselle is a children’s author of Kids Yoga Stories. She hopes to inspire children by drawing from her experiences as an international primary school teacher, yoga teacher training graduate, world traveler, mother, and yogi. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and daughter. Her yoga-inspired children’s books can be found at www.kidsyogastories.com or on Amazon worldwide.
As I come out of my new-momma fog, I’ve been enjoying the process of integrating yoga back into my life, but in a much different way. This new way supports my life as a stay-at-home mom and new business owner.
I’m finding that attending a yoga class at our local studio isn’t as feasible as it was before giving birth. However, I still yearn to feel focused, calm, grounded, inspired, confident, and balanced – all things that I get out of a regular yoga practice.
Ways for busy moms to keep up their yoga practice:
- Schedule 10-20 minutes every day. Some people say that a new habit can be formed in 21 days. This new habit needn’t take up a lot of time. Try practicing a simple yoga sequence every day at the same time for about 10 minutes. I often set a daily reminder on my iPhone. In our house, when our daughter just wakes up for the day works great for me. Start with a few Sun Salutes, and then see where the practice leads you.
- Set up a yoga-friendly environment. I find that the practice of unrolling my yoga mat in the same place every day (okay, most days… who am I kidding?) was helpful for our daughter to see that it was a specific ritual we did together, just like brushing our teeth. She now proudly brings out her little yoga mat from The Little Yoga Mat. The space then becomes sacred to the process.
- Download yoga classes. YouTube, Yoga Download, Live Yoga Life, and many other sites have loads of great classes. You can choose classes from 20 minutes long up to 1 ½ hours. Classes are often targeted to your specific needs, as well. Yoga videos also provide variety. If you’re just starting out or have been practicing yoga for years, following along to an instructor still comes in handy.
- Find a yoga partner. Being accountable to someone else is super motivating. Set up a relationship with your yoga buddy and text or email after your practice to celebrate stepping onto the mat. I found this relationship to be invaluable especially on days where exhaustion was winning out and I really just wanted to sleep or read. I always felt better after the yoga practice and was grateful for the support of my yoga partner.
- Look after yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Celebrate what you do, not what you’re not doing. With the hormonal soup pumping through your body, it can be easy to engage in self-destructive thoughts. Focus on building a positive mindset. A little fresh air or time reading a book might be just the thing to help you be handle a crying baby or a toddler tantrum. Allow yourself to momentarily shut down, then reboot.
- Practice mindfulness. With our monkey minds full of things we should be doing or fuzzy and muddled from lack of sleep, it is easy to become unaware of our surroundings. Bring yourself to the present moment by focusing on your breath. When you do the dishes, think only of the dishes and breathe. When you are changing a diaper, think only of connecting with your baby and breathe. This sounds crazy, but you’ll begin to notice how much time you spend thinking about the past and future, and not the present.
- Do restorative poses regularly. Get those legs up the wall or recline back with your legs supported in butterfly pose. Even relax in Resting (Corpse) Pose on your back with your arms and legs spread out. Search YouTube for “Yoga Nidra” and listen to a 20-minute guided relaxation. Do this often. Please. It will make a world of difference to surrender into relaxation.
- Focus on your breathing. Sounds simple, right? But so often, we find ourselves disconnected from our breath, breathing quick, shallow breaths into our chest. Instead, engage in full belly breaths to fill your lungs entirely and exhale completely. When you are pushing your little one on the swing, take a moment to focus on your breathing. When you are watching them in the bath, breathe. When you are taking a bus ride together, hold them close and breathe. Sit cross-legged, close your eyes, and breathe. My daughter comes to sit on my lap when I take a moment to meditate. It’s precious. Motherhood teaches me to appreciate the simple things in life, and I feel better for it.
- Reach out. If you would prefer to attend a weekly yoga class at your local studio, honor that, and ask for help in looking after your little ones. If you need to talk through your self-destructive thoughts, ask a supportive friend for an ear. The old saying that it takes a village to raise a child is definitely true. Be in tune with your needs, reach out to ask for help, and give yourself some time and space to rejuvenate. Parenting is definitely the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. For those of us who don’t live near family, it’s even more important to ask for help. Parenting is not meant to be a solo journey. Create the community of support you need.
- Let yoga be in your life. Yoga is so much more than doing a Downward-Facing Dog. The yoga principles outlined in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, translated by Alistair Shearer, teach us about breathing, doing things for others, sitting quietly, concentrating on a single task, being productive and happy, positive thinking, breathing deeply, and relaxing. Look for ways to integrate yoga beyond just the physical postures. I love singing “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” to my daughter right before I put her down to bed at night. Translated from Sanskrit, it reads: “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to the happiness and freedom to all.” Allow this ancient wisdom to seep into your life naturally… and embrace all its magic.
I’d LOVE to hear from you if you have any other suggestions on how to practice yoga as a mom; please email me at giselle at kidsyogastories dot com. There are no rights or wrongs and no perfect formula. Yoga is a journey, an experience, and a lifestyle. Just be yoga, speak the truth, and live your passion. Why not, right?
If you are interested in more information, read about the benefits of storytelling and yoga for children or the history of yoga. Also, check out Giselle’s yoga-inspired children’s books on her Kids Yoga Stories website or on Amazon worldwide. Get more free kids yoga resources in your inbox by signing up for her weekly newsletter, or check her out on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.