The combination of exhaustion, anxiety and frustration that come with caring for children can take a toll on any mom. That’s why it’s so important to develop a self-care routine and prioritize your mental and physical health.
If you only have a few minutes a day to yourself, adopting a yoga practice may be an excellent way to decompress and reenergize so you can be the best mom you can be.
1. Build Strength
Motherhood is a very demanding role, one that will require all the strength you can muster. From lifting the baby stroller out of the trunk to carrying the laundry upstairs, being a mom is a real workout. If you aren’t prepared for it, you’ll quickly lose energy and grow tired. Of course, you’ll still have to power through your to-do list, which can strain muscles and make life even more difficult.
If you’re looking to build strength so that everyday tasks aren’t such a burden, try yoga. Attend vinyasa classes that strengthen your core, arms, legs, back and butt. You might even look into Ashtanga yoga, an ancient practice that links breath to movement and tones every part of your body — inside and out.
2. Improve Mobility
Regardless of which type of yoga you enjoy, a consistent practice can also increase your range of motion and improve mobility. Why is mobility so important? Because you perform some movements more often than others — like bending over to pick up kids — some muscles can develop unevenly. However, stretching them out on a regular basis will help each joint move through its full range of motion to prevent injury and pain.
Practice butterfly pose or frog stretches to loosen tight hips and prevent pinched nerves, arthritis and other complications. Incorporate foam rolling, yin yoga and mobility drills into your practice to further increase flexibility, stability and strength.
3. Boost Confidence
As your physical capabilities grow, you may also notice a renewed sense of confidence. After weeks of practice you can finally do a headstand or sink down a little deeper in pigeon pose. Accomplishing these things you may have never thought possible is a huge confidence booster and will remind you that you can do hard things. Plus, the added bonus of watching your body transform and get more toned
4. Tune In With Your Body
Yoga can help you appreciate and understand your body more, too. As you practice, you’ll learn to notice different sensations, which can help you find your edge or fullest expression of a pose. Listening to your body in intense stretches and subtle transitions will help you become more aware of which muscles might be overworking or underperforming in everyday life. Then, you can focus on releasing them during your practice and throughout the day.
5. Connect With Your Breath and Destress
Yoga isn’t just about tuning in with your body, however. The practice also encourages you to connect with your breath, the inhales and exhales that give you life. Breathing deeply, with slow, steady, even breaths signals your parasympathetic nervous system to calm the body. Long, deep breaths can also help you manage your stress response to help decrease fear, panic, worry and other negative emotions and sensations.
6. Find Mental Clarity
Linking breath with movement and incorporating drishti — or a steady gaze — in your yoga practice will help you find mental clarity as well. As you transition from one pose to another and hold more challenging postures, you’ll have no choice but to train your mind to stay in the moment. Otherwise, you may easily lose your balance or let your breathing become quick and choppy.
While staying present may be difficult, repeatedly reigning in your mind will help you see your life for what it truly is. You’ll learn to appreciate your life and kids and family. And, most importantly, it will remind you that spending time with loved ones is more important than checking another task off your to-do list.
7. Cultivate Peace and Patience
Because yoga and pranayama can help regulate emotions, they can also help you find more patience for your littles. When catastrophe strikes — think screaming fits in the middle of Walmart — your practice will help you step back, assess the situation and respond accordingly.
This way, you can avoid overreacting and, instead, make calm, coherent decisions to remedy the situation. Whether that means immediately leaving the store or patiently waiting for them to finish their tantrum, your reaction will likely be a more peaceful one thanks to your practice.
Keeping Yoga Simple
The best part about practicing yoga is that you don’t need equipment or even a specific place or time to practice. While a mat and a quiet room can come in handy if you have a half hour or so to sweat, these things aren’t necessary to live a balanced life. All you really need is you and your breath.
When you feel your anxiety levels start to rise, take a few deep breaths. If your little one is getting on your last nerve, roll out your neck or place a hand over your heart to steady its beating. All of this is yoga and can be highly effective if you incorporate these small actions into your day. So don’t worry if you can’t stretch for an hour or meditate for 10 full minutes. Sometimes, the simple stuff is all you need.