Ok, so I’m starting here honestly. I am far from a yogi. My three-year-old is better able to distinguish between right and left than me, and it is known that I fall asleep * occasionally * during Shavasana, especially when the instructor breaks the singing bowl. Nevertheless, over the past year I have fallen in love with this old form of exercise and its modern interpretations. Here are some reasons why I think any mother of young children could use yoga in their lives.
1) Mothers need Zen like no other
Let’s face it, our life is about seeing others who have little space for themselves. Whether you’re staying at home like me or looking after your family by working outside the home, you’re probably juggling a million things. And then someone has the audacity to tell you, “So what are you doing for self-sufficiency?”
Martyrdom does not make us better mothers. Yoga teaches me that exercise that serves the mind and body is self-care in a way that I’ve never seen calories ticking on a treadmill. I feel like a friend of mine says “two inches taller” when I leave a class. My patience for my children, my husband, comes from the calm of my mat when I practice regularly. And for someone who could literally fearfully analyze me to death, this kind of Zen is invaluable.
2) Yoga teaches respect for your body wherever it is
Every mother I know misses part of her preschool body. Okay, maybe not every mother, but we mortals who have not returned to our twenty-two year old self. I think it’s a combination of fatigue, goldfish crumbs and the human condition. Body image problems are common to all women, but they cause massive physical changes in one or more pregnancies, and no wonder we all have problems.
Yoga teaches me (a lot of work is still going on here) to respect my body where it is. My best could be different today than yesterday. And that’s ok A very wise yoga teacher once said to me: “Yoga is not about getting into the poses in the right way. It’s about how you handle it if you don’t get into the pose.”
3) Even if you just breathe, that’s enough
The power of mindful breathing is greatly underestimated. How is the strength to take just a moment. As someone who likes to plunge through the uncomfortable emotions and parts of life, I can solve problems that I avoided by sitting and just breathing. I processed conversations that I didn’t want to think about. I had ideas for blog posts. I literally didn’t think of anything (which could be the most impressive). The beauty of breathing can also be a religious and praying experience if you like things like that. In this world of constant noise, choir and confusion, many of us long for contemplative silence in which we can simply be.
4) It is a community
I have never felt competitive in a yoga class. Not once. I can’t say that about any other group practice environment I’ve ever been in. That actually says more about me than the types of exercises I did before, but still. Maybe it’s the dim lights or the soothing music. Or the fact that I try really hard not to fall on the mat next to me. I never feel like I’m competing with the others in a class. Even if you feel cheesy the first time you say Namaste, you will understand that the culture of respect is contagious.
5) It fits my life
Aside from the fact that I wore the pants every day before I really found yoga, I’m so happy I did. This type of movement makes me feel stronger, safer in my skin and calmer. There is a form of it to cover just about every need. When I’m exhausted, I go to a quiet, relaxed class. Frustrated – maybe a cardio, a warm class. Requires too much heated flow. But with any shape, I feel happier after leaving my mat than before I started. Well, that’s self-help that I can actually get started with. Namaste, mom!
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