How yoga helped me be a better Mom
Throughout my adult life, I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with yoga. Yoga started as a fitness trend for me a little over four years ago after having my second child. Overweight and struggling with motivation, I thought I would try yoga as a sort of fitness compromise.
After a few fumbling weeks and a never-ending search for the best yoga videos, I finally fell into a rhythm, but to be honest, it didn’t last long. As a naturally competitive person, I thought the goal with yoga was to match the instructors pose for pose, vinyasa flow for vinyasa flow. So I gave up and swore it wasn’t right for me.
So, what changed my mind? Reading about the philosophy of yoga and digging deeper into the subject. Last year after finally having enough of life, I embarked on a health journey to overhaul how I saw myself and how I treated everyday life to be a better person and to be a better mother.
Raising two kids, 14 and 4 (both girls might I add), is a lot of work. I receive tantrums and hormones daily. I’m the wife, the cook, the cleaner, and the boo-boo fixer. On top of that, I’m a freelance designer and writer with seemingly endless deadlines. The days tend to run together and at times, become difficult. Running out of ways to manage the stress and stop the constant mood I found myself in; I started to read.
I read about diet changes, exercise routines, supplements, spirituality……you name it, I looked into it. Everything I read made sense, but nothing spoke to me until I started to go deep into the meaning of yoga.
I quickly learned what I was missing during my failed attempt at yoga in the past. Yoga is not about perfecting the poses. It is not about keeping up with the instructors who have been practicing their entire lives. Yoga is about mindfulness. Yoga is about breathing. Yoga is about practice. More importantly, yoga is about taking time for yourself, every day, to reflect and clear your mind.
After I understood these vital notes, I decided to give yoga another try. I bought a decent mat, picked a place in my house that I could call my own, and made a commitment to myself. I would spend ten minutes every day practicing yoga. Ten minutes, that’s all. A short amount of time that would be just mine. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it quickly became the favorite part of my daily routine.
After a few weeks of my ten minutes a day, I started to feel changes happening. Not only was I looser and more limber, but my mind wasn’t as foggy, I wasn’t snapping all the time, and I felt more at peace with who I was.
So, how does all of this make me a better mother?
It is a common opinion that self-care can have lasting results for women, especially mothers. Although taking care of yourself can feel selfish, it’s the exact opposite. Choosing to put yourself first by carving out a small portion of your day to breath and clear your head allows you to feel more centered in the day to day chaos of being a mom.
Learning the breathing techniques used in yoga can have a significant impact on those stressful days where parenting seems like too much. Like when your toddler decides that the food you prepared has arsenic in it or the clothes you picked out for the day are the worst things they’ve ever had on, taking a moment to breathe before you react can help you and your child on a deeper level.
Another rewarding aspect of yoga is the improvement in your mood and the way you view yourself. After practicing yoga for a solid year, I feel more confident as a woman, wife, mom, etc. The confidence I gain from daily exercise, improved physique, and stamina, tends to bleed over into everything else I accomplish daily, including all the difficult parenting moments.
But let’s also be real here. We all have those days where life is just crap. Nothing goes right, everyone in the house is a wreck, the dinner burned, work disasters were endless, and on and on and on. On those days, those particularly nasty days, that’s where yoga can shine. That’s when you can shut the door to the insanity of the world, hit the mat and do what you can. If that means five minutes of flow and twenty minutes of savasana, that’s totally fine. Nowhere in the handbook of yoga (I wish there were one) does it say you have to follow a step-by-step guide of fifty poses a day to be a yogi.
Letting go of that need to be perfect, my friends, is where the real magic of yoga. We are not meant to be perfect. Not in yoga, not in motherhood, not in our careers, not anywhere in life. Remembering that can lead to some life-changing moments. Some, as Oprah calls them, ‘ah-ha’ moments. Moments where you see your life for what it is. You see it as it is, right now, and understand that it’s ok. It’s ok to be a mess, and it’s ok to have a perfect day. It’s ok not to hold the pose the first or even the fiftieth time you’ve tried it. It’s ok to have bad mom days and good mom days.
What you need to remember is that you tried. You did what you could, and tomorrow, you will try again. You’ll get on the mat, you’ll face the world, and you’ll live for the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful moments of life.