Aaaaahhhh… You know that calm feeling you get at the end of a really good, long yoga practice?…
I’m feeling that right now because I just finished my home practice. I just gave myself a WHOLE hour to move, stretch, breathe, and just be in my body. It was glorious. And you know what? It almost didn’t happen. About five minutes into my practice I hit the pause button (I’m a yoga video kind of girl). I looked at my phone and I thought to myself: I could just knock out ONE more phone call, and then come back to this.
In yoga we call that distracted, unable-to-focus-on-one-thing-for-longer-than-a-few-seconds mind Monkey Mind. The idea is that your mind swings from one idea to the next like a crazed money swings from tree limb to tree limb. My mom friends and I know that it’s also a symptom of being around small children with even smaller attention spans all day long, having a million things to do at any given time, and not getting enough rest… All of that comes together to leave us feeling groggy, distracted, and unlikely to take care of ourselves. (I even put together a little yoga practice to combat the phenomenon known as Mommy Brain. Trust me, it’s a thing.)
Anyhoo. What was I talking about?
Oh yeah, how I ALMOST let myself get distracted instead of doing my yoga practice. (Because we both know damn well that if I had left that video paused and walked away from my yoga mat, I would NOT have gotten my yoga practice today.)
Luckily, this time I caught myself. I pushed Play. I did my practice. And I am still basking in the glow right now.
I don’t know about you, but this is how my yoga practice goes most days. There are SO many times I have cheated myself out of a full practice in a scenario much like the one I just described to you. Sometimes I overcome my Monkey Mind, Mommy Brain. Other times? Well, you know how they say the road to hell (or in this case, stress, burnout, fatigue, and utter exhaustion) is paved with good intentions.
So, how can be sure that we are following through on our intentions to make time for ourselves and our yoga practice no matter what? I think it will always be a struggle for me (It was even a struggle for me before I became a mom!) but there are a few things I do to help me make yoga a part of my super-busy-crazy mom life. And, you can do it, too!
Yoga Home Practice Tips for Moms
Make it stupid easy by planning ahead. Leave your yoga mat unrolled and your props out in the middle of the floor. (You might trip every now and then, but it will be worth it.) Leave your browser open to the video or yoga blog you intend to practice along with if that’s your thing. Have your playlist ready to go if you practice with music. Put your yoga clothes out the day before. The easier you can make it on yourself the more likely you will be to follow through with it and establish a lasting habit.
Block out your time on the calendar and make it non-negotiable. My daughter is in preschool three mornings a week right now (woohoo!). When I get home from dropping her off in the morning, I change into my yoga clothes and I do my yoga practice BEFORE I do anything else—no quick phone calls or emails allowed. Before my daughter went to preschool I treated her nap times the same way—yoga first, then whatever else I can squeeze in afterward.
Be sneaky. Maybe you aren’t as lucky as I am with blocks of time built into your schedule where you can do things without your little one attached to your hip. When the only time I had to myself was my daughters 30-minute nap time, I’d often wait until my husband got home from work and beg, plead, and bargain for just a few minutes for whatever yoga practice I had energy for. Of course, when that didn’t work (because my husband also wanted time to himself after a day at the office), I’d simply wait for my daughter to demand his attention and quietly slip away for just a few minutes of yoga. It’s not exactly as good as a full hourlong practice, but it was definitely better than nothing.
See also Why Every Yoga Mama Needs a Secret Savasnana
When all else fails, invite your kid to join you. Maybe your child thinks your Cat/Cow is an invitation to ride you like a horse. Join the club. Repeat after me: Anything is better than nothing. Just a few minutes of stretching your legs while you play with Leggos will be all you can swing some days, and that’s OK! Make it as fun as possible and know that your kids will remember watching you make the effort.
Savasana counts. Don’t feel like you have to do 100 Sun Salutations every time you get on your mat. Know that there are definitely times when you’ll get a lot more benefit from a calm, soothing, grounding Savasana or other restorative yoga posture. You’ve been running around like a chicken with its head cut off all day (in case you’re not from the South, that’s kind of like a more physical version of Monkey Mind). A super active yoga practice would likely just add the the overwhelm anyway. Don’t have the energy to vinyasa? Fine. That’s no excuse to skip your practice. Just skip the vinyasas, and treat yourself to something gentler instead. And don’t you dare feel a bit guilty for doing it—you deserve it!
Remind yourself that your practice is just for you—but it also benefits your family just as much. When you skip your practice, you aren’t going to show up as the best mom, wife, partner, worker, etc. It’s not fair to you or those who need you.
Forgive yourself when it doesn’t happen. This is probably the hardest thing, but also the most important. It’s so easy to get down on ourselves for missing a few sessions, and before long we just stop trying. Don’t go down that path. It’s a challenge to commit to a home practice. And when you’re a busy mama with mouths to feed and boo boos to kiss in addition to all the normal work and life responsibilities it’s at least 100 times harder. Remember that you are strong. You are capable. You are SO worthy. The next time you miss a day (or week or month) of yoga, please simply think to yourself: Silly, mama. You missed your yoga practice again. Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Try again tomorrow. You got this!