Ok, so I’ll start off honestly here. I am FAR from a yogi. My three year old is better at differentiating right from left than I, and I have been known to *occasionally* fall asleep during Shavasana especially when the instructor breaks out the singing bowl. All that being said, over the course of the last year I have fallen in love with this ancient form of exercise and its modern interpretations. Here are some reasons why I think every mama of young children could use yoga in her life as well.
1) Moms Need Zen Like None Other
Let’s face it, our lives center around seeing others with very little room for self. Whether you stay at home like me or take care of your family by working outside of the home, you’re likely juggling a million and one actual things. And then someone has the audacity to say to you, “So what do you do for self care?” Ummm sleep six interrupted hours sometimes….does that count?
Martyrdom doesn’t make us better mothers. Yoga is teaching me that exercise that serves the mind and the body is self care in a way that watching calories tick up on a treadmill never was for me. I feel as a girlfriend of mine would say “two inches taller” upon leaving a class. My patience for my children, husband, overall life spills over from the calm of my mat when I am practicing regularly. And for someone that could literally anxiously analyze myself to death this kind of zen is priceless.
2) Yoga Teaches Respect for Your Body Where it Is in the Moment
Every mom I know misses some part of her pre-kid body. Ok, maybe not every mom, but us mere mortals who didn’t “bounce back” to our twenty-two year old selves. I think it’s a combination of exhaustion, goldfish crumbs, and the human condition. Body image issues are rampant amongst all women, but throw in the massive physical changes of a pregnancy or three, and no wonder we all struggle.
Yoga is teaching me (still very much work in progress here) to respect my body where it is. My best might be different today than it was yesterday. And that is ok. A very wise yoga teacher told me once, “Yoga isn’t about getting into the poses the right way. It’s about how you handle it when you can’t get into the pose.”
3) Even If All You Do Is Breathe That Is Enough
The power of mindful breathing is vastly underrated. As is the power of just taking a moment. As someone who likes to rush through the unpleasant emotions and parts of life, having to sit and just breathe has a way of making me work through issues I’ve been avoiding. I’ve processed conversations I didn’t want to think about. I’ve had ideas for blog posts. I’ve thought about literally nothing at all (which might be the most impressive). The beauty of breathing can be a religious and prayerful experience, too if you’re into that sort of thing. In this world of constant noise, choas, and confusion, I think a lot of us long for contemplative silence where we can just be.
4) It’s A Community
I have never felt competitive in a yoga class. Not once. I cannot say that about any other group exercise environment I’ve ever been in. That actually says more about me that the types of exercise I’ve done before, but still. Maybe it’s the dim lights or the soothing music. Or the fact that I am trying really hard not to topple on the the mat next to me. I never feel like I am competing with the others in a class. Even if the first few times you say Namaste you feel cheesy, you’ll begin to understand that the culture of respect is contagious.
5) It Fits My Life
So aside from the fact that I was already wearing the pants on the daily before I really found yoga, I am so happy that I did. This form of exercise has me feeling stronger, more confident in my own skin, and calmer. There is a form of it to meet pretty much any need as well. If I am exhausted I’ll go for a calm, relaxing class. Frustrated- maybe a cardio, heat class. Needing too recharge- heated flow. But any form leaves me feeling happier after I leave my mat than before I began. Now that’s self care I can actually get on board with. Namaste, mama!