When I step onto my mat, there is nothing else that matters. There are no toys to be picked up, dishes to be cleaned, or clothes to be folded. I am no longer mom. I am me. There is just myself, my mat and my yoga practice.
As I take the first downward dog of the day, I can feel my whole body open up. My spine gets longer, my hamstrings and calf muscles stretch out, and my sinuses clear. For the next 30, 45, 60, or 90 minutes, all I have to do is listen and breathe and move.
Over the years, I have taken many yoga classes. Some mediocre, many (thankfully!) not. While on my mat, I often get more out of my practice that just stretching my muscles. I often get a life lesson. Sometimes it is a psychology class about my ego. Other times, it is like therapy. Yoga calms my mind. It reduces my stress level both physically and mentally. It makes me a better mother.
As I practice my backbends, I have learned to open my heart both physically and mentally. Afterwards my lower back feels at ease, especially after toddler carrying and lifting, and my heart is open to take in and listen to the thoughts and concerns of Big Girl and Little Girl.
Twisting poses, in addition to releasing toxins from my body and boosting my immune system, allow me to rid myself of doubt and negativity. The parenting question, “am I doing this right,” is let go and I can simply enjoy the moments of life – regardless of how crazy they sometime feel.
It is during these quiet times on my mat that I can finally hear myself think. Or better yet, not think at all.
Yoga also reminds me to be thankful. Thankful for the people in my life and for the air that we breathe. Thankful for the body that I am in. I have learned to tune into my body. Accept my body’s limitations. And most importantly, to pass no judgment upon it.
Some days my body works the way I want and looks the way I desire. Some days it needs to rest and rejuvenate and appears a little soft. I have learned to acknowledge my thoughts (good or bad) and then let them go.
My teacher has taught me to move slowly and deliberately – stop rushing. I have learned to focus on doing one thing at a time on and off my mat. When I stop multi-tasking, I enjoy the simple things – like reading to the girls and cooking dinner.
With two young girls, I now mostly practice at home. I never thought this was a possibility until I was forced to make it one. I have learned that like any activity, consistency is key. And I have also learned that a short practice every day is better than no practice at all. Some days I only have 30 minutes before the girls are awake, other days I have more.
The days that I do practice in the morning, I revel in the quietness in the house. I can hear the birds sing outside and tune into the inside. And I salute the sun and myself welcoming another day.
How do you connect with yourself and motherhood?
This has been an original post to World Moms Blog by Angela Y of San Francisco, California.
Photo credit to Lulumon Athletica. This photo has a creative commons attribute license.
I love the idea of yoga, and tried it, but after driving through two red lights after lessons I decided it wasn’t ideal for me! I am inspired to try again, thank you. 🙂
Ahh…I feel more relaxed just reading this 😉 I admit I used to do yoga for the same reasons but just got lazy about making it happen at home. I find it hard to slow down and take the time. But as you said, a little is better than none. I am inspired. There is nothing like a good yoga pratice to keep mind, body and soul in sync. Thanks!
I, too, think practicing at home is very difficult. I don’t know where to start and where to go. Then I discovered a world of online yoga. I have tried a few and found yogaglo to be my favorite.
I have been able to carve out a space in our home. It is in the basement but we did our best to make it pretty. Added an old rug and a room divider so I can ignore the chaos beyond. Even the girls refer to it as my yoga room.
This makes doing yoga at home a lot more practical and available.
I need to try yoga! Strange that I haven’t, when it’s so common on our country.
I can be a workaholic, so activities like this are beneficial to me.
I did yoga for years without understanding why people liked it. This is most likely because the teacher and/or class was not the right style for me. So after many stops and starts, I found a teacher that I love. His rhythm and cue make me guide my mind and body and a now truly love it. So keep trying different classes, studios, and styles.
I, too, enjoy yoga in my life! I try to do it at least once a week to check in with my body. I like the upper body strength that it gives me. It makes me feel stronger, too. Thank you for sharing your story!
That is such a wonderful post, Angela. My recent thoughts are all about getting back to yoga. I haven’t been able to do it freely for more than a year. I do have so many excauses not to do it, though. Financially I can’t afford classes and at the same time as Tara said I feel too lazy to make it happen at home.
You inspired me, though.
I totally agree that yoga classes are expensive, especially if you have to pay for child care.
The website yogaglo changed my home practice experience. It also helps to have a small, dedicated space. And find a time of day that you can practice consistently.
Here is a short video by my favorite yoga teacher that inspired me to continue practicing at home…hope it does the same for you.
Yoga can look so different every time…sometimes I can do yoga by myself, and just love it…sometimes I do yoga with my daughters. Every time I learn more about why I practice yoga, rather to expose my daughter to this beautiful practice of connecting to self and peace, or to watch them adapt what I’m doing, or remember things they’ve seen the past, or how amazing it is to be alone and completely focused on myself. A home practice is so important for me and helping people start their own even with kids in their yoga space, but I also love to go to yoga events and teach and guide others in classes.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I would love to practice with my daughters but really don’t know where to start. Do you have any suggestions?
Excellent post! I am a yoga teacher, and still find it hard to get in my time for mr own practice. To get it in, I sneak up every morning, tip-toeing to my yoga room, trying to make it to the mat before my son wakes up. It is a blessing to me, and helps me to be a better mom and teacher. I now teach yoga to children, and love to see them discover their own inner yogis! It is great for calming children and building confidence.
Thank you for your comments. I totally agree!