I’m a better parent because of my yoga practice. There’s the obvious stuff: I have a stronger body because of my practice. My fuse isn’t quite as short after I’ve made time for my yoga. My years of practicing pranayama mean I can use a Nose Frida like a BOSS. But when I’ve been able to apply the lessons I’ve learned on my yoga mat to my life as a mom, I’ve noticed I’m able to enjoy being a mom so much more, too. Here’s some of the yoga inspiration for moms that has been the most life-changing for me.
Yoga Inspiration for Moms
Less is more.
When it comes to parenting, we live in a culture where we not only want to give our kids the best of everything, but we also think it has to be pretty and polished, too. It’s not enough for your kid to go to school clean with her homework done, but she has to be dressed in a holiday-specific outfit she’ll only wear once (don’t forget the matching bow!) and a lunchbox full of organic food painstakingly shaped into cartoon characters. There was a time that when I gave anything less than 100 percent of my capacity to my child, I felt guilty and ashamed.
See also Just Say No to Yoga Guilt
Then I remembered one of the very first lessons I learned as a yoga student: You notice SO much more about a pose–your breath, your alignment, your mental and emotional reactions to it–when you back off and stop trying so flipping hard. In other words, if you give about 75 percent instead of 100 percent you might get a lot more out of the posture. Your muscles won’t be so rigid and tight. You’ll be able to breathe. Your whole body might even relax and, as an added bonus, you might even find yourself melting into a deeper version of the pose without even trying.
When I am able to successfully apply this little nugget of yoga inspiration of chilling the F out to parenting, I able to enjoy the time I have with my kids more. And they seem to be more relaxed, too.
Use your energy wisely.
There’s a reason beginning yoga students often end up in the middle of a giant puddle of their own sweat while more seasoned yogis are barely phased by the same class. With experience, yoga students learn how to use their energy more wisely. Through my years on my yoga mat I’ve learned not to exert unnecessary energy by gripping my jaw or furrowing my brow. When I’m doing a standing pose, I’ve learned that it doesn’t help to clench my teeth. Because I’ve been practicing for years, I am aware of my tendency to do that, so I notice it quickly and remind myself to focus on the strength in my legs and how my feet feel on the floor instead.
I don’t get as exhausted as I used to by the end of my yoga practice because I’ve learned to use my energy where it matters. When I can apply that to parenting, and I really focus on the end goal–doing just what’s necessary to have happy, healthy children–and letting some of the other stuff go–Pinterest-worthy outfits, guilt, spotlessly-clean rooms–it’s so much more sustainable.
Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. Save up some energy for high school–I hear the teenage years are a doozy!
As a beginning yoga student I’d cringe when my teacher handed me a yoga prop like a block or a strap. It felt to me like something that I needed because I wasn’t “good” at the pose yet. But after a while I realized that props are an amazing way to create more awareness and depth to the pose. And, yes, they make it more accessible to all body types and skill levels, too. There’s no shame in using props to help you maintain the alignment and integrity of your pose or help you to experience it more deeply.
And there’s no shame in calling for reinforcements when you’re knee deep in temper tantrums and noisy toys. Seriously. Hire a babysitter. Ship Junior off to a play date. Let the bag boy at the grocery store put your groceries in the trunk while you strap the kids into their car seats. You will enjoy this whole mom gig way more if you can recognize when you need help and ask for it (and for Pete’s SAKE accept it when it’s offered!).
See also How NOT to Ask for Help
It’s OK to do your own thing.
You know how your yoga teacher offers lots of different options for the yoga poses so that there’s room to listen to your body and choose the version that’s best for you that day? It’s cool if Bendy Lindy in the front row is parting her hair with her feet while she practices Scorpion Pose. That’s really none of my business as I fling myself up into a Handstand against the wall. We all come to our yoga mats with different anatomies, stories, circumstances, and histories. Why would our yoga poses look the same?
That’s how I try to look at parenting. If Hannah Homemaker has one of those embroidery machines and time to hand-make a new outfit for her daughter every day of the week that’s cool. I’m working on other things that are equally valuable and necessary to run my household. And that’s cool, too.
It’s not about achieving perfection, but about the experience of the moment.
“Yoga isn’t about touching your toes. It’s about what you learn on the way down.” – Judith Hanson Lasater
This quote sums up one of my most important points. In yoga, it truly doesn’t matter if you can do ANY of the poses in the way that the yoga stars on Instagram do. If that’s your goal, you’re missing the whole point of the practice.
I remind myself that the same thing applies to parenting. If my goal is to make everything look a certain way–every hair in place, every outfit coordinated, every toy disinfected, every meal worthy of a magazine spread, every photo perfectly edited for my social media channels–I’m missing out on being present with my children. Appearing to others as if I have everything together while I’m falling apart on the inside isn’t healthy for me or my family. (It isn’t healthy to the other mamas who see me portray everything as “perfection” either!)
So, I let go of the need to be perfect in the same way that I’ve learned to let go of the goal to achieve the perfect pose. It’s far, FAR more important to be authentic and present in both areas of my life.
In those moments that I’m able to be present, it feels like complete freedom. And what could be better than that?
What has your yoga practice taught you about motherhood?