Yoga is my new favorite thing. Again. Not necessarily with goats, but that’s fun too. Another story for another time. It’s all the yoga pictures I had at the moment.
In college, I took it because it was not cardio, and not weight lifting with the jocks. Also it seemed like a fairly peaceful thing to do, in the middle of stressful finals season.
These days, it’s more like my lifeline instead. I look forward to yoga and plan for it. It means a whole hour of peace, calm and mindfulness. It’s one of those things you don’t know you need until you’re desperate for it.
Here are some lessons from yoga that every mom can use and appreciate:
1. You need time and space.
I love getting to stay home with my kids. But when I’m with them, I’m constantly “on” – watching for danger, solving problems, reminding, correcting, teaching, etc. And there’s tears here, whining there, cries for mama.
Yoga means a full hour of no one touching me. (Unless the instructor is correcting you or helping you out. And even then, you can just say no.) It’s time to breathe deep and focus on what’s right in front of me, not scattering in a million different directions.
2. Access your zen.
I am not naturally the most patient person. I also happen to bottle my emotions and my stress until I explode. So, not a good combination there. It would be nice to be able to say that I just easily roll with the punches. But I stress, and I get crabby.
Now that yoga is in the picture, James usually tells me to go out and find my zen. And somehow it works. Maybe it’s that whole separation thing, or maybe it’s the mindfulness, but I come home relaxed.
3. It’s okay to not think about your kids for a little while.
Yesterday I got through most of class before I realized, I hadn’t thought about my kids at all. I felt bad for a minute – and then I realized, that’s okay.
It’s like when people tell you you shouldn’t talk about your kids the whole time when you’re on a date with your spouse, or out with your friends. You are allowed to have your own head space and to focus on you.
4. Practice makes perfect.
My husband asks me why they call a yoga workout a “practice”. I’m probably wrong about this, but here’s what I think. The things you work on in yoga – things like mindfulness, focus, and discipline – all take practice. And having a chance to exercise those things, as well as my body, helps me use them at home and with my kids. As one instructor says, you can take it all with you off the mat.
5. Go at your own pace.
Another reason yoga is a practice is because it’s not about achieving or finishing or perfecting anything. It’s a constant flow. You don’t have to rush or push or stress. That’s hard to do all day with kids, but achievable in yoga.
6. Small things make a big difference.
Sometimes we practice mudras, which are small hand gestures that promote certain feelings. I don’t know if they necessarily have power over my feelings, but they do help me to focus and quiet my thoughts.
Breathing, too. I think I can underestimate how much my breathing affects my emotions. Doing the right breathing patterns can calm me down and even put me to sleep. These small things, things I don’t always stop to notice or think about, can actually help ground and calm me.
Do you yoga? What do you like about it? If not, how do you “find your zen”?