I recently read a quote that goes, “When you practice yoga once a week, you change your mind. When you practice twice a week, you change your body. When you practice every day, it will change your life.” It’s been true in my life, but if you replace “yoga” with cooking, or running, or organizing, it could be true in most situations.
For me, what I call my “yoga mom journey” began in January. Like millions of other people making resolutions, I tried to get my life together in small ways. I joined the local YMCA and resolved to not eat out as much. Of course my main goal was to lose weight, but this time it meant something a little different than it did before. The weight was just a side effect of something much larger going on in my life. Since having my son two years earlier, it’s been difficult to make time for myself. I was mostly unhappy and extremely anxious about everything from work to our household and everything in between. Something had to change.
Our gym had yoga classes, so I decided to check them out. I’ve been practicing yoga off and on since high school, but I never stuck with it very long. So I found a beginner class, learned a couple of things, and then kept going. I’ve been doing yoga for at least 15 minutes five days a week, and I have never felt better.
So How Can It Help Moms?
Science says a lot about yoga. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just for hippies. The government says yoga is the sixth most commonly used complementary health practice among adults. According to the National Health Interview Survey, more than 13 million adults practiced yoga in the previous year. And more than 1.5 million children practiced yoga, too! Since it’s a low-impact activity, it truly is something the whole family can do together.
In my experience, yoga has reduced back pain, improved strength and flexibility, relieved anxiety, and helped with my overall health. I am naturally an anxious person, and my anxiety manifests itself in some pretty annoying ways. I get physically ill and it makes routine tasks seem impossible. The extra weight I was carrying made my joints ache, and carrying my son around hurt my back. With just a month of regular practice, all of these problems eased, and so many other positive side-effects followed.
How Do You Get Started?
As a famous athletic apparel brand once said, “Just do it!” There are so many excuses to not do yoga or any other physical activity. The one I used most commonly was, “I don’t have enough time.” I think as parents and working professionals, we use this too often. It really just boiled down to not making the time to take care of myself. And if I don’t take care of me, it becomes so much more difficult to take care of everyone else.
In the beginning, I would just search for yoga videos on YouTube and do 20 minutes to an hour in my living room. I didn’t want to take my son to the gym day care after he spent all day without me at school, so I found a solution by just doing a flow or two at home. And something really cool happened. My 2-year-old started doing yoga with me! Most of the time he “goes under the tunnel” while I’m doing down dog, but then he actually started doing some of the poses with me. If you hear a toddler yelling, “I do yoga, mommy!” or “NAMASTE!” in a store somewhere, it’s probably my child.
Something else that helped me get more into my practice was meeting other yogis at classes and on social media. Just like with going out to eat, or to the movies, or to the bathroom, it’s just more fun with friends. Letting others in on your habits also helps keep you accountable. There are so many options for classes in and around Huntsville, some of them free or included in a gym membership. They range from gentle and beginner to just absolutely mind-bogglingly challenging, so you can find something for your skill level. Once you get connected to instructors and other yoga enthusiasts online, you can find out where and when they practice and join in.
“But I Can’t Do Those Fancy Poses!”
Of course the initial impulse is to compare yourself to these amazing men and women who are doing perfect crows or wheel poses, but you have to let go of that. Just like with so many other things in life, you cannot compare yourself with anyone else. Your experience is completely different from anyone else’s. Your body doesn’t bend the same way mine does. It’s easy to get frustrated when you see your fellow classmates doing a perfect pose without modification, but you don’t know how long it took them to get to that point.
It takes time to see progress, and it doesn’t always come quickly. Just do you, and concentrate on doing better than you did in your last practice. I have set specific goals for myself based on my physical ability at the beginning of this journey. And just yesterday, with the help of an instructor whose class I really enjoy, I reached one of those milestones! I was able to do a wheel pushup. I’ve been practicing wheel pose for three months, and I’m finally strong enough to do a couple of pushups while I’m there.
Three months. See, that’s not overnight. But what I gained from that time spend on practicing my goal is invaluable. I stretched, balanced, fell, and laughed my way to some peace and quiet. My family has a new activity we can practice together. I found a way to make time for myself. I’m healthier and happier. I still have a long way to go (which you’d know if you saw my goddess pose), but I’m going to have so much fun getting there.
Here are some resources I’ve used to find my inner peace
Rocket City Yoga Week – Mitzi Connell is probably a name you’ve heard if you’ve talked about yoga at all in Huntsville. This website has a lot of good stuff for the beginner and advanced yogi. And she’s recently launched a great magazine you can read there. More details.
Cosmic Kids Yoga – If your children want to get stretching, too, this is a fun way to do it! I know several elementary and middle school teachers who use this in the classroom. More details.
Yoga with Adriene – I use her YouTube channel when I’m practicing at home. You can search for any flow you want to do, including morning, night, gentle, full body workout, and even anxiety reducing. There are lots of other yoga channels, too, but this one was best for me.
Cathy Lighton (Yoga Gypsy) – There are so many talented instructors in the Tennesee Valley, but Cathy’s classes challenge me every single time and leave me thinking, “I didn’t know I could do that!” She teaches all over, and even does group events. I recommend trying one of her classes immediately! More info.
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