As mothers, we often try to control each situation or at the least be prepared for all possible worst case scenarios. When our children are little, we pack diaper bags and car bags with extra wipes, diapers, snacks, toys, bandages, every cream you can imagine, a change of clothes for if they are hot, cold, or messy, and the list goes on and on.
“You can never be too prepared”—yet, we often are not prepared for the everyday crazy things that happen just trying to get out of the house in the morning. As our children age, we are beyond diaper bags, however we still search for ways to be a step ahead, control the disasters before they happen.
Here are the top 5 things yoga taught me about motherhood that has helped me through this crazy, rewarding journey of motherhood.
1. Breathe, Breathe, Breathe—Just Go With the Flow!
On my mat, the energy of the my breath can calm any crazy emotion that arises in a pose, push me through the Warrior III I’ve been struggling with, lift my toes from the ground in that arm balance, or help create space in my restorative pigeon.
I have learned through my practice to use my breath to follow intuition and go with the flow. Accept that some days, the poses will flow freely (like a dream outing to the Zoo) while other days, the poses may feel rigid and forced (like a scraped knee literally steps away from the entrance of the Farmer’s Market on a perfect Saturday Morning).
The more I let my practice be what it is, the more I learn motherhood is the same—you have to learn to just go with the flow.
2. It’s All About Balance.
This one pretty much explains itself. We all know that to stay sane in motherhood, we must learn balance. Too much of something (other than love) doesn't always have the outcome we hope for, and not enough of something can lead to the same consequences.
This is why balance is really important. Remembering that no matter how fabulous, fierce, and strong you feel moving through the physical poses of your practice, Savasana is still absolutely necessary for your soul. You need time to shake up your internal snow globe (with Asana), and time to set that globe down and let it all fall back into place. It is about finding the balance.
>3. Patience on the Mat Can Be Brought Off the Mat—And Sometimes Not.
As a mother, patience is sometimes endless and easy, other times…not so much. And by patience, I mean patience with our children, our spouses, and of course (often the most difficult), ourselves.
We can make it through the toughest of days, still smiling with a feeling of strength we didn't know we had. Or we can slump into the couch after tucking them in, feeling as if we simply just aren't cut out for this parenting gig. Motherhood is tough! We can be the toughest on ourselves, leaving little patience for our own temperament, behavior, or energy.
Yoga has taught me that learning and advancing in my practice takes time and patience. That it is a journey, and all the steps along the way make it worth the effort. I have learned to accept where I am, without losing sight of where I want to go.
Knowing this, each precious day I get to spend with my kids is just a point on the journey. No—it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but with patience, I make it through the day, accepting where we are (in table manners, potty training, homework battles, household chores, curfew wars, or whatever else is thrown our way) helps me see that just like my practice, it will ever evolve with patience and nurture. Know that you, Yoga Momma, are doing your best. Trust and be patient with the journey.
4. My Body is Forever Changed and That’s Okay!
Besides the obvious physical changes that may have resulted from carrying a child for 9 months and birthing that child, your body is no longer itself after becoming a mother. Even if you didn’t physically bring your child into the world, your body is forever changed.
"Personal space" takes a whole new meaning. Your aches and pains are second to the needs of your little person. You are exhausted on a level you never knew was possible. Your body needs time to find itself again.
Time on the mat will do that. The mat will serve as a guide to bring you back, perhaps even stronger than you were before—if you have the patience to look in the right direction. Take time to breathe in each pose, explore the sensations of the stretch, find comfort and space in the spine, and learn to listen—REALLY listen to the requests of your physical self.
Forget where you were, and focus on where you are now. Embrace your body! You will find that acceptance you need to not only LOVE your amazing momma body, but also to radiate an energy that your children can’t help but learn to love their bodies as well. Lead by example, show them that yoga is so much more than exercise—it is acceptance and appreciation for the fabulous things our bodies can do.
5. To Raise Whole Children, I Need to Be Whole Too.
You can be a working mom, stay-at-home mom, or a hybrid in-between and feel like there just aren't enough hours in the day. We all LOVE our kids and would like to spoil them with attention, but also know there are grown-up things that must be done as well.
Know that you can tell your children, NO. Know that you can be apart from them. Know that when you care for yourself, you are caring for them as well. Use the moments you have to fill your cup, do it mindfully, and fill your WHOLE self.
That is why yoga is so magical. Whether you squeeze in a 60-minute studio class before picking up the kids, a 15-minute yoga video first thing in the morning while the rest of the house sleeps, or quick restorative yoga practice before bed, you can have time for your physical body, heal emotional wounds, and connect through your breath and movement to something higher than yourself. Make yourself a priority, schedule it on the calendar like any other appointment, you will not regret it!
Mommas—I want to hear from you. What other things would you add to this list?
Image credit: Drinie Aguilar