How Becoming A Mom Made Me A Better Yogi

How Becoming A Mom Made Me A Better Yogi

Like most pregnant women, I knew my life would change when I became a mother. That was a given.

What wasn’t a given was how much having a baby would change my yoga practice.

Here are the 5 ways, becoming a mom made me a better yogi.

I Learned Self-Acceptance

Before I became a mom, I was used to being “good” at things, including yoga.

Sure, I encouraged my students to “accept themselves” and “enjoy the journey.” But, if I’m being honest, I didn’t often put myself in a position where my own skills were challenged. I rarely stepped out of my comfort zone.

Becoming a mom changed that.

Between the endless diaper changes and nursing sessions, I realized that it’s impossible to be “good” at being a new mom.

There was so much to learn, so much to do, and so little sleep, I couldn’t keep up. I quickly realized that pushing myself to meet an unattainable ideal, would drive me into the ground.

I had to start walking the walk.

Slowly, I learned to accept myself in all my messiness. I gave up the idea of perfection and embraced being present to the beautiful chaos of motherhood. 

That translated into my postpartum yoga practice. My postpartum body was tired. The poses I was once so “good” at were often hard. I learned to let go of being “good” and enjoyed the experience, accepting myself where I was.

I Learned the Value of Time

Non-parents say they are busy. I said it often before having kids.

But there’s a certain urgency that only parents seem to grasp. Before becoming a mom, my yoga practices were at least 60 minutes and often 90 (I can’t even fathom that now). For the most part, the day had enough hours.

After becoming a mom, I learned how to do everything in less time. From cleaning the kitchen, to building my business, to my beloved yoga, I trimmed everything down.

I learned the fine art of squeezing in what I needed to do between naps and snuggles. I condensed my luxurious yoga practice into an efficient 20-to-30 minutes. It took some time to figure out what to include and what to let go of, but I stuck with it.

Because a 20-minute practice is better than a 60-minute practice that NEVER happens.

I Learned What Attention Was

In yoga, there’s a term – Drishti, which translates to focused gaze. I had been practicing it for years. Like most yogis, I thought I had it down. I was wrong.

I was wrong.

Only after I had my daughter did I feel the true power of Drishti. Infants are programmed to find their mother’s eyes. As any parent can tell you, locking eyes with your new baby is one of the most powerful, emotional feelings.

When I gazed into my daughter’s eyes, and she stared back into mine, I finally understood the true power of Drishti. The rest of the world melted away. All I experienced was that moment with her.

That moment created a new sense of focus in my yoga practice. If I’m not focusing, I’m aware of it now, and I can reach for Drishti.

I Learned That Change Was Constant

Babies are wonderful, but they aren’t exactly compatible with a routine. As soon as I figured out my daughter’s patterns, they changed.

She forced me to go with the flow. To observe and assess, before acting. 

I found my practice changing on an almost daily basis too. As my body recovered from pregnancy and childbirth, it needed different poses. As my babies grew bigger and my arms grew stronger (but more tired), as I spent hours nursing little ones, I showed up to my mat each day with a different body.

Instead of forcing my body into a practice, I arrived on my mat and observed what I needed that day. That listening allowed my practice to evolve with the needs of my body.

I Learned the Value of Rest

Before kids, I spent most of my yoga time in strong, powerful flows. After the trials of pregnancy and childbirth, those practices weren’t cutting it.

My body craved nurturing…more restful, restorative practices became my go-to. And the more time I spent up at night with my newborn, the more I saw the value of resting.

A few minutes to stretch and rest on a mat? Yes, please. The best news was that there was no sweat necessary. I didn’t have to worry about squeezing in a shower on top of it all.

Lessons From Motherhood

I’ve learned more about myself in the past 5 years of motherhood than I had in the 30 years before. Each new stage of parenting brings new realizations and joys. And in the same way, my yoga practice continues to evolve with it.

I can’t wait to see what other lessons I learn about myself, and yoga, as I continue this wild ride of motherhood.

 

Watch the FREE Yoga and Diastasis Masterclass!

4 Ways To Increase Energy: A Guide For Worn Out Moms

4 Ways To Increase Energy: A Guide For Worn Out Moms

If I’m not careful, I can easily give all my energy to those lovely, energy sucking, children of mine. I know when it’s happened because I end my day feeling like a limp, angry, noodle.

As a mom, you give to others, think about others, direct others. All day long, your energy is moving OUT.

Giving is good. But if that’s all you do, you become depleted.

What you need is to bring energy back IN.

So the million dollar question: How? 

Keep reading for four quick self-care activities, proven to nourish you and bring energy IN. Do one or all four every day. You’ll fill your energy tank, and end the day feeling balanced.

 

Four Ways Worn Out Moms Can Increase Their Energy Quickly

 

1. Deep Breathing

The Sanskrit word for breath is prana, which translates to “life force.” So, yeah, let’s bring some of that IN.
A 5-minute breath practice is one of the most potent and immediate self-care tools. It creates calm, reduces reactivity, and helps you take the day’s challenges in stride. I recommend deep breathing first thing in the morning to start your day on the right foot.

 

2. Meditation

We moms DO NOT realize how harsh our inner critic is. A daily 5-minute meditation practice attunes you to your ongoing self-talk. When you first start meditating, you will find surprising amounts of negativity. “I’m not doing a good job.” “I yell too much.” “I should play more.”
Turns out, the criticism you hear meditating is playing in your head ALL DAY LONG. Talk about exhausting.
A consistent, short meditation practice shines a light on your self-talk. Once revealed, you can choose self-compassion instead of self-criticism. Muzzling that inner critic frees up a lot of mental energy.

 

3. Do Things That Light You Up.

As much as I love being a mom, it’s easy to feel swallowed by the responsibility. To counter this, spend a few minutes each day nurturing your deepest priorities. You’ll feel vibrantly alive.

If you need help getting clear on activities you can fit into your busy life, I’ve got a system for that.

 

4. Practice Gratitude.

Our lives are busy. It’s easy to lose sight of the beauty in life.
Start a gratitude practice. Each night, write down at least 1 thing you are thankful for. Let it sink in. Revel in the beauty in your life.You’ll fill with positive energy and realize that the chaos of your life is beautifully perfect.

 

There they are. Four actions to restore your energy. Try it out. You’ll be amazed at what you create.

Watch the FREE Yoga and Diastasis Masterclass!

5 Tips For Doing Yoga With Kids

5 Tips For Doing Yoga With Kids

Tips For Doing Yoga With Kids

“Mama, can we go do some yoga?”

This little phrase is now a regular utterance at my house. But that wasn’t always the case. There was a time when I couldn’t get my love of yoga to rub off on my kids – no matter how much I requested or pushed.

It made no sense to me. How could they not love this practice that I found so fun? How could they see me practicing yoga ALL THE TIME, and not want to join in?

And then one day, I watched my children playing outside. As they moved from one shape to the next, all without premeditation or consideration, it hit me:

Kids don’t need to practice yoga. Their entire day is yoga.

Movement and mindfulness are a child’s normal way of being. For adults, not so much. At some point along the way, we lose our connection to self and the present moment. We have to “practice” finding it on our yoga mats.

Now, instead of inviting my children into my yoga practice, I step into theirs.

I don’t set yoga apart as a special, separate part of the day. I roll out a mat while we are playing and start moving. I let go of expectations and let them join as they like and leave as they like.

The result? They love yoga. They get excited when I roll out my mat because I’m going to be on the floor, connecting with them. Don’t believe me?

 

For those of you that would like to invite yoga into your days, here are 5 tips for doing yoga with kids.

 

1. Connection over Perfection.

Don’t waste a single moment correcting your child’s form or trying to teach them the right way to do a pose. This is your chance to have fun and foster a love of movement and yoga in your child. Don’t let the notion of “right” and “wrong” stand in the way of connection.

2. Keep it short!

Things go downhill after 10 minutes or so. If you hope to get your own full yoga practice in, think again.

3. Play With Advanced Poses.

Children’s bodies are incredibly strong and flexible. My daughter can pop up into a headstand and throw herself into a wheel pose without thinking. And she thinks they are FUN, not SCARY. Play with these poses with your child. She’ll be more engaged in the experience. You’ll learn to approach them with more levity.

4. Be Flexible.

There will be days when your kid is SO NOT INTO yoga. That’s ok. Cut it short if it isn’t working. End on a positive note (like a cuddly savasana together).

5. Practice Breath.

Take a few deep breaths together at some point in the practice. You’ll give your child a tool they can come back to again and again when they need to relax and manage stress.
What are you waiting for? Go roll out that mat!

Watch the FREE Yoga and Diastasis Masterclass!

The Secret To Morning Yoga Success

The Secret To Morning Yoga Success

It turns out I’m just like Gwyneth Paltrow.

Remember that movie Sliding Doors? After Gwyneth’s character (Helen) is fired, she heads home, despondent. The pivotal moment occurs as Helen rushes to catch the subway. She approaches the train just as the doors slide shut (hence the movie title). We watch two scenarios unfold.

In the first, she catches the train and arrives home to catch her deadbeat boyfriend cheating. She breaks up with him and builds a fabulous new life.

In the second, she misses the train, doesn’t discover the cheating, and grows discontent.

Every morning I watch myself either make or miss the train. Let me explain, because this isn’t about my husband cheating.

Lately, I’ve been getting up early to do yoga. Like, really early. Before 5am. Before my kids awake.

It’s the only time when no one seeks my attention, and the only time I know my to-do list won’t dominate my thoughts.

So I’ve been on a good stretch lately. But I’m a mom to two young kids, I’m not a morning person, and I’m eternally tired. Every morning I struggle with the decision to get up or to stay in bed. And this is where I watch myself run toward that sliding train door.

If I get up and head upstairs to my yoga mat, I catch the train. My day includes presence and patience.

If I hit the snooze button, and wake up to my lovely, yet demanding children, I’ve missed the train. I’m on track for a day with impatience, distraction, and disconnect.

The days I catch the train end up better for everyone in my house. I’ve started building structure into my days to give me the greatest shot at catching that train.

Here Are The Secrets To My Morning Yoga Success.

 

AT NIGHT, PREPARE FOR THE MORNING:

  • If you plan to do an online yoga class, queue it up on your laptop. brb Yoga makes this step easy.
  • Close all other tabs on your computer so you’re not tempted to check email or Facebook when you wake.
  • Set the laptop next to your yoga mat.
  • Pick pajamas that double as yoga clothes.
  • Put your phone (or alarm clock) across the room to ensure you don’t hit snooze. If you are using your phone, put it in airplane mode.
  • Fill a water bottle with water and ice and set it next to your alarm.

 

IN THE MORNING:

  • Shut off your alarm but keep your phone in airplane mode! The quickest way to miss that train is to see the notifications that popped up during the night.
  • Chug your ice cold water to hydrate and wake up.
  • Stumble onto your mat.
  • Wake up the computer and press play.
  • Do the yoga!

You may have noticed that ALL the mental work happens at night. This is by design.

If you’re going to catch the train and have a good day, you can’t wait until the morning to prepare. Do everything you can so you don’t need to think or make decisions in the morning. To cut the barriers between you and your mat, you need to be on autopilot.

Any other morning yogis out there? How do you make it happen?

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Self-Care 101: Start With Breath

Self-Care 101: Start With Breath

Breath Exercise For Overwhelmed Moms

Every day I meet busy moms, like you, who want to care for themselves. As you can probably guess, I think yoga is one of the greatest self-care tools out there. It might surprise you to know I don’t recommend yoga as the starting point for these moms.

I want you to start with breath.

Intentional, deep breathing, that you do, most days, for at least 5 minutes. This is so important, I created a free 5-minute breath exercise that I want to get into the hands of all busy moms.

Here Are Four Reasons To Start With Breath:

 

1. It’s simple.

You spend a lot of time in your head. “Did I do that right? Did I remember that? Should I have done XYZ instead?”

When starting a self-care practice, you want something that doesn’t put you up in your head.

If you aren’t used to the physical practice of yoga, there’s a learning curve. “Where does my leg go? Am I doing this right?”

Not so with a breath practice. You already know how to breathe. With guidance, you can shift to a conscious deep breath without overthinking it.

Breath is self-care that serves you immediately.

 

2. It’s a powerful way to bring calm to the body, right now.

Is “overwhelmed” a word you sometimes use to describe your life? Me too.

When your mind feels overwhelmed, your body’s stress response kicks into high gear. Your brain prepares to fight a bear and activates your fight or flight response. Your heart rate increases, your blood pressure rises, and you are now hyper-alert.

That’s the response you want when you fight a bear. But you’re not fighting a bear. You’re caring for a tiny human.

Deep breathing puts the breaks on your stress response. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system.  Your heart rate and blood pressure decrease. Your mind realizes there is no bear and settles into a relaxed state, immediately.

 

3. You can do it anywhere at anytime

Waiting in line at the grocery store? Commuting home from work? Dealing with a particularly stressful tantrum? All opportunities to practice deep breathing.

No mat required, no special clothes. Once you learn a simple breath technique, self-care is available to you whenever you need it.

 

4. Consistent small choices bring big changes.

Your life is so full. But it’s not so full that you can’t breathe for 5 minutes.

Breath is a quick win. And quick wins help you keep going.

Commit to a 5-minute breath practice for the next week. You will have successfully implemented a self-care routine.

You’ll feel calmer and more present for your life. You’ll feel successful at taking care of yourself.

Over time, you’ll be ready to add other self-care practices, like yoga, into your day. With a regular breath practice under your belt, a little learning curve for yoga isn’t such a big deal.

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