Yoga is not just about getting to a studio 3 days a week to sweat it out in cute spandex. Yoga is a way of life, a holistic perspective. and a way to see the world. It has a physical, psychological, and spiritual component.
Yoga is about personal development, reflexivity, and growth. It’s about compassion for my body and my mind. It’s about recognizing when things get hard and breathing through those moments. Because as the good times pass, so do the hard times.
I spent much of my youth playing competitive sports. Soccer, basketball, softball, field hockey, ice hockey, and lacrosse. It’s us and against them. It’s me against myself. And that’s the philosophy of competition that I came to value. Run fast. Sprint faster. Work hard. Want it more.
I pushed my body until it sweat, until it bled, until it shook, until it gave up on me. I never questioned this. Until one day I did.
I found yoga four years ago when my life was chaotic. I was in graduate school and my body and mind were an absolute mess. I was a wreck. I ran several miles a day. But I couldn’t run away from the mess. I was falling apart.
Yoga was not an instant fix for me. It has taken me several years to pick up the pieces and mend the patches. Along the way I became a mom. And yoga has remained a foundational part of my life.
These days I’m running off to teach a class, grade papers, prepare lecture, collect data, make dinner, change a diaper, fold laundry, walk the dog, plan a date night, call my parents, respond to emails, etc. You know, the things that consume our day. We’re always tethered to our iPhone, iPad, and laptops, running from appointment to play-date to the grocery store. It’s funny how easy it is to forget to breathe.
As parents, our to-do lists are never-ending. And I admit, I thrive on this. But the reality is, while it may be temporarily exhilarating, such chaos is not sustainable. As I juggle parenting a toddler, being a supportive wife, a performing professional, and a contributing citizen, yoga continues to play an instrumental role in my life.
So I’ve put together a list of 10 ways yoga makes me a better mom.
- Focus on the moment. Let go of multi-tasking. Be present, even in the mundane. I read Goodnight Moon for the 5th time and focus on sharing the moment. This is the hardest one for me.
- Don’t forget to breathe. Breath is the foundation of yoga and the foundation of life. Calming down. Relaxing my mind and body with my breath. In the midst of a challenge, when I breathe and let my body relax, my daughter’s does too. We breathe through the turmoil.
- Every day is different. Some days I am super mom, other days I barely eek by. Some days I can hold up the weight of my body, other days I can’t touch my toes.
- Showing up. The hardest part often is showing up and being present. When our toddler is up at 5:15 am, sometimes I roll over and just don’t want to be an adult. Like parenting, yoga is about showing up on your mat and welcoming the experiences life throws at you.
- Slow down. Speeding is dangerous. Take time to smell the roses. You’ll be surprised at what you notice.
- Sweat it out. Feeling your heartbeat and muscles quiver is a sign that you are still alive. I enjoy the physical challenge of yoga. I am gratified when I can hold up my own body in a challenging pose. Just like yoga, parenting is physically demanding.
- Self -care. If you need to rest, let yourself rest. If you need silence, make space for moments of quiet. It’s okay to ask for help.
- Ask yourself the hard questions. Who am I? What am I doing in this life? What impact am I making? Does this make me happy? What kind of parent do I want to be? What relationship do I want with my children? These are the big questions.
- Take inventory. Yoga helps me be thankful for the little things in life. I am thankful for moments of stillness and silence. I am thankful for the chaos and confusion.
- Yoga is nuts. Even the poses that seem the most elementary can be extraordinarily challenging. Find your grounding, set your foundation. Same with parenting. Life gets crazy. Nuts. Chaotic. Out of control. It’s hard to juggle all that life throws at you. Root yourself down firmly.
Yoga guides every single aspect of my life. Yoga provides me the tools to slow down with things are nuts, to breath when it all feels like too much, and to find joy in simplicity. Yoga helps me be a better mother, spouse, daughter, teacher, colleague, and friend.