Sunday, June 8, 2014

Finding balance

Author's note: I found this post on an old thumb drive. It was probably written in 2011. I don't believe it was published, but since I haven't kept good track of posts that I wrote for other blogs, I can't be completely sure.

Before I became pregnant, I used to wake up at five o’clock every morning and blissfully practice yoga for forty-five minutes. I relished the silence, the calm, the feeling of being alone with my True self. After having a baby, my routine went out the window and I have learned to take my yoga-induced bliss where I can find it. 

As a new mother I struggled to find the time and space to practice yoga. I received a lot of advice about how it was essential to take “me time,” and if I didn’t, it was tantamount to mama failure. But as a mother who works full-time, outside the home, and is away from her baby for ten hours a day, my heart told me that I could not sacrifice time with my son for “me time.” On the other hand, I was feeling stressed and exhausted, and I wasn’t able to fully enjoy the time I did have with my son.

I knew I couldn’t give up time with my son, and I knew I had to find time to practice yoga. It took me a few months, but I finally found a way to make it work. The key was acknowledging how important yoga is to me, and being flexible enough to practice yoga outside the comfort zone of my usual morning routine.

Here are a few tips that helped me start and maintain a home yoga practice.  If you are looking for a way to begin, they may help you as well.
  • Decide if yoga is truly a priority. Do you believe yoga will help you create balance in your life? If so, why? Be honest with yourself. Parents have precious little “me time.” If you can only do one or two things a day (or a week) that will help you create balance, is yoga it?
  •  If so, make a commitment to practicing yoga several times per week. This might mean cutting out other activities that do not rise to the top of the priority list. I only have two “me time” items on my list: yoga and walking the dog. I have made a commitment to myself and to my son to practice yoga because it helps me achieve balance, which in turn helps me be a fully-present mama. I take this promise seriously. Every time I start talking myself out of practicing yoga (which occurs nightly), I think back to this promise. Is my reason for not practicing yoga good enough for me to go back on my word? (If the answer is truly yes, say because I am utterly exhausted, then I forgo yoga practice for the night.)
  • Practice yoga that makes you feel good. I used to practice yoga by following a video and I wouldn’t do it unless I had a minimum of thirty minutes, so that I could complete the entire video. If I had remained wedded to that rubric after my son was born, I would get to practice yoga about once a month. These days, I practice yoga for the amount of time that I have. If I only have ten minutes, then I practice yoga for ten minutes. In the past I would have thought a ten minute yoga practice wasn’t worth the bother. Today as a mama, I know that it is not only worth it, but it IS my yoga bliss. Furthermore, instead of following a video, I follow my heart. I practice poses that feel good, work out the stress of the day and help me feel present and centered. 
  • Be flexible. Life as a parent is nothing if not unpredictable. But once you have made the commitment and you know what feels good, you have the tools you need to maintain a regular home yoga practice, even during the most chaotic times. It doesn’t matter if you practice in the morning or in the evening, for five minutes or an hour, indoors or out. What matters is that you are striving for and some days, even achieving, balance through a home yoga practice.