I’ve been practicing yoga for close to two decades. The awareness and grounding it offers has steadied me through cross-country moves, crazy deadlines, tragic breakups, getting married and becoming a mother. Yet when I had the second of my two kids in just over two years, I gave up all forms of mind-body practice cold turkey. I just couldn’t take on anything that wasn’t directly related to keeping those kids alive and cared for.
Moving from yogi to mommy
Let me be clear — my younger child was a delightful baby and is now the mellowest 3-year-old boy I’ve ever come across. But his relative easiness did nothing to relieve the cocktail of hormones and exhaustion that accompanied his arrival. He’d cry and I’d start sweating blood.
I’d gone through the whole spectrum of yogini-hood before this point — I started with one class a week at the gym, and gradually amped that up to two before ditching the gym altogether and patronizing a yoga studio where I did 2-3 classes a week and started dabbling in a home practice now and again. A few years later, I embarked on a year-long teacher training, where I practiced nearly every day, either in the studio or at home. Afterward, I settled back in to 2-3 classes a week with some home practice thrown in. After my first child was born, I was happy to get to one weekly class and did some form of practice at home most other days.
Even though I knew there was no one ‘right’ way to maintain a yoga practice, I succumbed to all-or-nothing thinking in those early days of being a mom of two. Like, when you eat a handful of chips and then think, “Oh, screw it,” and then continue to eat the whole bag. Or, in this yoga example, if I couldn’t practice two or three or four or five times a week, I decided there was no point in practicing at all.
But here’s what I’ve come to believe with all of my being: The deep breath you take before you say something crabby to your husband or snap at your kids is a more powerful mind-body practice than the most vigorous 90-minute yoga class.
Making the most of your mini yoga practice
I gradually got back into my practice by meditating while I nursed the baby to sleep. It was 10 blissful minutes of quiet, and it not only helped me purge some stress, it helped me start actually looking forward to bedtime (which had previously been my least favorite part of the day with its dinner-bed-jammies-and-make-it-quick relentlessness).
The process helped me see how even mini-mini practices add up to a whole host of benefits. And once you start doing them, the enjoyable effects inspire you to do more and more of them.
So if you’ve been thinking, “I’d love to do yoga or meditate, but I just don’t have the time,” re-think. If you’d like more practical information on how to weave practice in to your vida loca, visit me at msmindbody.com. And keep breathing!